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Two from the Buffett Cup
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We're two days into the Buffett Cup, and the mahjong game ended early tonight, so I had some time to write a brief update.

The form of scoring is nominally board-a-match, but it is not what I or any of the rest of the Americans consider board-a-match. You either win, tie, or lose the board—we're using the European/WBF method where winning a board is worth 2 matchpoints and a tie is 1—but a 10-point differencecounts as a tie. That form of scoring seems absurd to the US players, but apparently it's common in China and sometimes used in Europe. You can't always get what you want, but in fairness, it seems that the US team is the overall beneficiary of this policy, since we've pushed a few boards with a -10 point differential.

The first day was the "team" day, which meant that each eight-handed team was split into two teams. Jill and Sylvia were matched with Bob and Peter as USA A, while Ron and I with Bart and Kit were USA B, a coincidental reunion of our 2017 Reisinger team. The US team did reasonably on day one and trailed Europe by 6 Buffett Points, which I think is one board. Don't hold me to that, though. China was a bit back from the other two teams.

Day two was "pairs," but don't let yourself think that means the event was scored by matchpoints, it was still "BAM." In the pairs format, there are three 24-board sessions, and you compare your scores with each other pair for one session. In the first session, our team played well but not very quickly, and two pairs were given time penalties. I wish Ron and I could donate some of our time to the other pairs, as we finished with at least 30 minutes on the clock every set. The second session was not nearly as good, and we blew the lead we had taken in session one. Europe is now ahead of us by 1 Buffett Point (no idea what percentage of a board that is). China played about average on the day and is still in third.

There is one more set left in the pair portion, which we will complete tomorrow. We are only playing 24 boards tomorrow, and there is a field trip planned for the afternoon. We will be visiting a volcanic park, I believe, but I have no idea what that is. I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

The Buffett Cup concludes with two days of individual play, where everyone plays 14 boards with each of their seven teammates.

OK, on to actual bridge. On the first board of our afternoon match against China, I held:

South
J72
AQ1074
AK
962
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
?

With both sides vulnerable, my lefty opened a Precision 1. Ron doubled, and East passed, giving me my first decision: offense or defense?

I would have preferred to have slightly stronger hearts to go for the throat at the one-level, and I expected to have enough material to make game, so I advanced with 3NT. That bought it, and I received the Q lead:

North
AK85
93
Q52
K753
South
J72
AQ1074
AK
962
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
3NT
P
P
P

How would you play?

North
AK85
93
Q52
K753
South
J72
AQ1074
AK
962
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
3NT
P
P
P

It seems right to duck the Q. It's a virtual certainty that the A is onside, but you can lead up to the K later, and West can't play anything that will hurt you.

The Q wins, and East plays the 8, upside-down attitude. West continues with the J, and you win dummy's K as East follows with the 4, leaving:

North
AK85
93
Q52
75
South
J72
AQ1074
AK
9
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
3NT
P
P
P

What now?

North
AK85
93
Q52
75
South
J72
AQ1074
AK
9
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
3NT
P
P
P

It looks like West started with AQJ10, so you have a lock (unless he started with 3=5=1=4 shape). Cash the diamond and spade winners, and exit in clubs for a double-endplay. In the four-card ending, West will lead a heart into your AQ107, and then you'll exit in hearts, forcing him to give you another trick.

In fact, West had 1=5=3=4, so there was no problem, and I scored up +600, winning the board against -500, when my counterpart chose to go after his opponents.

The full deal and play:

West
10
KJ852
863
AQJ10
North
AK85
93
Q52
K753
East
Q9643
6
J10974
84
South
J72
AQ1074
AK
962
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
8
2
0
0
1
J
K
4
6
1
1
1
2
4
A
3
3
2
1
2
10
A
3
1
3
1
5
7
K
6
3
4
1
7
2
K
4
1
5
1
Q
9
4
8
1
6
1
5
6
9
10
0
6
2
A
7
10
J
0
6
3
5
3
6
7
3
7
3
Q
K
9
9
0
7
4
8
5
J
10
3
8
4
A
K
8
Q
3
9
4
N/S +600
13

I might be preempting a future Kit's Korner article, but I'll show you this deal from yesterday anyway:

West
AJ109
76
KQ76
J108
North
KQ754
J5
A982
92
East
82
842
J543
Q653
South
63
AKQ1093
10
AK74
D

South played in 4, and Kit found three winning defensive moves. He led a trump, preventing declarer from ruffing twice in dummy. Declarer won in hand and led a spade up, which Kit had to duck. A club to hand was followed by a second spade. Kit won, and a second trump would be no good: declarer wins, ruffs good the spades, and claims. Instead, Kit knocked out the A, holding declarer to 11 tricks.

Nice defense, but we were shocked to see that Deep Finesse says 6 is cold. If you enjoy double-dummy problems, you might consider how to make it.

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