Join Bridge Winners
The Cowboy and the Lady
(Page of 7)

The years have changed this city. My inn is still the same, but the old dirt road is now paved with cobblestones. Endless lines of money lenders, gambling houses, and obscure churches fill both sides of the street, all preying on the souls of the hopeless. Maybe this is what they call progress?

My first afternoon opponents are Shady Sally and Doctor Footless, two of the better known players in the event. My partner is not familiar, but the light in his eyes is dimmer than usual. I guess that makes the odds about even.

All vulnerable I pick up 3 AQJ5 AK53 KJ102 and open 1, showing at least a doubleton. 1 is clearly superior to 1 with such a strong hand. Over 1 we can easily find a diamond fit, but it may be hard to find a club fit after opening 1.

 

Partner raises to 2. This Inverted Minors convention may be a sound idea, but without additional agreements one is better off without. Yet Inverted Minors without further agreements is what the card stipulates, so that is what we play.

 

Slam is clearly in the picture, and lacking more sophisticated tools, the best way to investigate is a splinter. Over 3 my partner bids 4, probably intended as a positive bid. I like to play that 4 is somewhat negative, showing a minimal hand not suitable for 3NT. With extra values and no wasted spade honors partner can make a control bid instead. This is not common around here, and I certainly do not expect it in an individual tournament.

Me
3
AQJ5
AK53
KJ102
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
X
7
P
P
P

 

I bid 4 and partner counters 4, both control bids. Given that partner had the option to splinter over 1, he'd better have the king, and I know enough to ask for keycards. If partner has only one, or two without the queen, slam should at least be decent. If he has two plus the queen then I can count thirteen tricks: 5 clubs, 4 hearts, 2 diamonds, and 1 spade, plus a spade ruff in the hand with shorter trumps. 2 should show a 5-card suit, but in case partner has perpetrated 2 on an ugly Axx Kxx xxx AQxx then 7 still has decent chances.

I bid 4NT, and partner indeed bids 5. Footless doubles to ask for a spade lead, and I see no reason not to bid 7. It is possible that 7NT is cold, but investigating this option with an unknown partner is asking for disaster.

Shady Sally leads the queen of spades and partner tables the dummy.

Dimwit
A104
K3
Q76
A9843
Me
3
AQJ5
AK53
KJ102
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
X
7
P
P
P

 

A gun is a deadly weapon in the hands of a professional. Give it to a baboon and it will more likely shoot its own foot, or worse. Partner expected 5 clubs for my splinter, so combined with his ace-fifth the queen seemed irrelevant. What he overlooked is that I can think for myself. His Inverted Minor typically shows five clubs, so if I have 5 clubs as well plus all the keycards then missing the queen of trumps won't prevent me from bidding the grand.

This highlights the biggest difference between duplicate and money bridge. At money bridge partners tend to know their limitations, and are careful to let the stronger player take the big decisions. But with nothing at stake and a new game starting soon, every baboon wants to be the hero.

Dimwit
A104
K3
Q76
A9843
Me
3
AQJ5
AK53
KJ102
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
X
7
P
P
P

 

Everybody learns that with nine cards missing the queen you play for the drop. You make whenever the suit splits 2-2, or when the queen drops singleton, together well over 50%. Cashing an honor and finessing is slightly worse, but only slightly. And since there is usually some information to go on, it pays to keep your nose in the wind.

What is going on? It is common to lead a passive trump against a grand slam, especially when the opponents have shown all keycards including the queen. So when someone does not lead a trump, it can be an indication that it is them holding the queen. On this hand that argument is moot, as it would be pretty strange to lead a trump instead of the requested spade. Perhaps the doubler has king sixth. With more they might have bid, which would give Sally queen-jack third. It would be inconceivable not to lead a spade from that holding.

 

Another argument for finessing through West presents itself. If the spades are indeed 3-6, then that changes the odds more than enough to make a finesse through West better than playing for the drop. A fancy college professor may give you a complicated formula for computing the odds. Ignore them, these mathematicians don't know shit. A little common sense is all you need in this game. When West is known to hold 3 spades and 2 small clubs, while East is known to hold 6 spades and 1 small club, lefty has 8 cards left and righty only 6. The odds for playing West for the queen of clubs are therefore 8 against 6.

 

So that's it, should we finesse through West?

Dimwit
A104
K3
Q76
A9843
Me
3
AQJ5
AK53
KJ102
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
X
7
P
P
P

 

There is another piece of information to go on. It is an argument that a mathematician would never think of, but I believe it to be a strong clue. It has nothing to do with computations, but is all about experience, and about knowing people.

We were quick to assign Footless with king-sixth of spades, but why would he double with that holding after I've already shown a singleton spade? The spade lead is unlikely to be important, but double may help me pick a winning line, or place the distributions in the end-position. In general good players are eager to make lead-directing doubles to help partner find the best lead against 3NT, but against slams, making such a dubious lead-directing double is rarely done.

I can only think of one good reason to make this double, and that is: East fears another lead. There is only one possible lead that East could truly fear, which makes the right play in trumps almost a certainty.

Sally
QJ76
9742
J1042
6
Dimwit
A104
K3
Q76
A9843
Footless
K9852
1086
98
Q75
Me
3
AQJ5
AK53
KJ102
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
4N
P
5
X
7
P
P
P
D
7 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

I am enjoying this tournament more than I thought I would. True, being paired with a random monkey against two of the better players in the room is not easy, but it does give me one big advantage. While I will usually be able to read them, they will never be able to read either one of us!

In real life the club queen was found by Meike Wortel partnering Jacek Pszczola, playing against David Berkowitz and Alan Sontag in a Florida regional. Would you have finessed through East? Would you have doubled with the East hand?

58 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top