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Watertown Sectional, Day 1: Pairs
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I'm not sure why I can't sleep in on tournament days, but here I am, so I might as well get a couple of hands out of my system.  I'm playing this weekend with Stephanie Hamilton, whom I first partnered about 25 years ago in the under-50 game at Jade Barrett's club.  We did well in the afternoon and were leading at the break, notwithstanding a possible PP (see http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/director-please/).  I had the rare pleasure of accepting congratulations from several fine players.  

One of our good scores came when I held J653 AJ5 AT9 K73 and raised partner's 1NT opening directly to 3NT, scoring +460.  I initially thought that we had beaten out all the +450s (as partner also had four spades), but the recap sheet showed that pretty much the whole room showed the same good judgment and we lucked out on the opening lead.

 

The afternoon was a bit more of a challenge, as I failed to cash out against a couple of contracts which needed that defense and we were somewhat below average, placing us in the middle of the overalls; amazingly, all nine of the overall winners were within a single board.  How would you and your partner bid this hand after East deals?

West
8
K108742
J1093
63
East
AK102
AJ93
AKJ109
Assume South overcalls in diamonds.

West
8
K108742
J1093
63
East
AK102
AJ93
AKJ109
W
N
E
S
1
1
1
P
4
X
4
P
6
P
P
P

We reached slam via this auction for an above-average result, and it wasn't until 5:15 this morning that I figured out how to find the grand.  East can bid 5NT (Grand Slam Force, or Josephine for those who are older than I) and West replies 6 showing A or K with extra length.

My favorite hand was this one, for both the bidding and play.

West
AK10764
Q3
A964
6
East
83
K10754
2
KQ953
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
2
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

Plan the play on a diamond lead.

West
AK10764
Q3
A964
6
East
83
K10754
2
KQ953
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
2
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

If you win and reflexively ruff a diamond, you can't make it--there is no way back to your hand, so the opponents can win your play from the board, draw dummy's other trump, and cash a diamond when they get in with the other ace.  There are hands where it's right to duck at trick one, but this isn't one of them.  I won and played a club up, catching North on the tines of Morton's Fork (my favorite coup; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morton%27s_fork_coup).  In practice, he won the ace, and I could not be prevented from ruffing a diamond and pitching the other two on clubs.  Had he ducked, I would have been able to ruff two diamonds, losing only a trump, a heart, and the last diamond.

My bike ride over to the tournament site should keep me awake for the first session of today's Swiss, and I'll hope for not too many difficult defenses in the second.

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