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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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If I had a fairy godmother who said: “I can cast a spell which will allow you to always think through the situation clearly and work out the percentage opening lead”, I would be quite happy to accept it.
March 6
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What is the motivation behind banning of drugs for sporting events?

David says that it to level the playing field, so the athletes can compete on even terms. I'm not sure I understand this. If drugs were legal they would be legal for all the competitors, so it would still be a level playing field. I understand that financial inequalities might make the enhancing drugs more accessible to some than to others, but these financial inequalities exist for other aspects such as hiring the best coaches, etc. Life is not always an equal game.

My understanding (if I'm wrong about this, please let me know) is that the motivation behind banning of drugs is that they are harmful to the athlete. Some athletes are willing (perhaps without realizing the dangers) to accept long term harm to their bodies in order to acquire the short term gain from success in their competition. The drug banning is an attempt both to prevent this long term damage and to level the field for athletes who do not wish to take these risks.

For bridge (or any other competition), the same conditions apply. Players may take “drugs” which help them concentrate but are possibly harmful to them in the long run. For example, I will often have a coca-cola before I play a session, as I find that this helps me focus. I know that coca-cola probably isn't the greatest thing for my health. Other players have similar “addictions to drugs” which they find helpful for their play.

Should these be banned? Possibly if they are definitely shown to enhance one's ability and definitely detrimental to one's health. Otherwise, I don't think so.
March 6
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You will live. The hand is 100% cold regardless of the E-W hands.

SPOILER ALERT

Do not read further until you have really given up on finding the solution. You will get great satisfaction from finding it on your own.




As I indicated earlier, the key is to find out how to play the spades. It is easy if West guards the diamonds. Just cash everything else. At the end, West will have to come down to 4 cards, one of which must be the jack of diamonds. When he doesn't discard it, you discard dummy's diamond and play East for the long spades, since West can no longer have 4 spades.

The difficult situation is when East guards the diamonds. Dummy is squeezed first. East discards behind dummy, so when dummy's diamond is discarded East can discard the jack of diamonds and you won't have the complete count. For example, suppose you test the diamonds, and find East with Jxxx. You then run the clubs. East follows to 3 clubs. East's distribution could be 4-2-4-3 or 1-5-4-3, and you will not know which.

The amazing solution is as follows:

Win the club lead, and cash the king of hearts. Then play 3 rounds of diamonds, ending in your hand. Assume the difficult case where East guards the diamonds. Cash your clubs, discarding dummy's hearts. With 5 cards left, you have the ace of hearts and 4 spades in your hand, a diamond and 4 spades in dummy. East is down to 5 cards, one of which you know is the jack of diamonds.

Now, cash the ace of hearts, discarding dummy's diamond.

If East follows to the ace of hearts, he will have 4 cards left, one of which is the jack of diamonds. Thus, only West can have the long spades, so spade to king and spade to ace is a lock.

If East discards the jack of diamonds on the heart lead, you will have a complete count on the hand. You will know the club distribution for sure by seeing what happened on the run of the clubs, and you will know the heart distribution from the fact that East discarded on the heart. This will tell you how to play the spades.
March 6
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Counter intuitive is an understatement. It took me over half an hour to see it.

The solution is so neat I don't want to publish it and give it away, as many will want to try and solve it. However, I will give this hint:

The key, as you might have guessed, is to get enough of a count on the hand so you can determine that one of the opponents can't have 4 spades. If you can do that while keeping your spade holding intact, you will be able to pick up the spade suit.

That is your clue.
March 5
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Correct. I need to count tricks more carefully.
March 5
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Because this gives responder the option of bidding 2 to suggest that as a better landing place. This would be just a suggestion, since if responder knew he wanted to play in hearts he would redouble immediately to force opener to bid 2.

Even if opener isn't willing to sit for 2 doubled, he should redouble. Say opener is 6-1-2-4 or 5-1-2-5. He runs from 2 when doubled (via redouble with 5 spades, 2 with 6 spades), and responder can place opener with 4 or 5 clubs. That may allow responder to scramble successfully to 3.

Of course if opener's spades are good enough so that he wants to play in 2 regardless, he can go ahead and bid 2 instead of redouble.
March 5
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I think that makes sense. Furthermore, if you judge to continue with the jack of diamonds and are wrong (East having 3 spades and 2 diamonds), East may reflexively ruff the jack of diamonds rather than discard a spade, and you will have a reprieve.

Note that if East has 10xx of diamonds and a doubleton spade it would be a nice falsecard to drop the 10 of diamonds on the second round of diamonds. This would induce declarer to play for the spades to be 3-3. Of course, any East who could figure this play out would be up to ducking the first trick which would leave declarer with no play for the contract.
March 5
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Sure I would consider this a weak 2 in third seat. There doesn't figure to be a game opposite a passed partner unless there is some huge heart fit, and if you have that the opponents may have a huge spade fit. a 2 opener gives partner a much better picture of your hand type than a 1 opener (which could be a lot stronger and could have a shorter heart suit) as well as taking up enemy bidding space on a hand which is likely to belong to the opponents.
March 5
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Duncan,

The reason 5 is clear is that South has the worst possible hand he could have for splinter. In fact, I would guess that most players would consider the hand too weak to force to game.

Given that, if there is a slam opposite this hand, North will be able to drive to slam without any cooperation.

Take a look at your example hand of: Axx Qx AKxxxx xx. Match that hand opposite any hand which is worth a splinter. Keep in mind that South has forced to game with no spade honor and no ace or king of diamonds. Also keep in mind that one avoids splinters with no control in one of the side suits. I think you will see that there is almost no hand South can hold where you don't want to be in slam, so North has a slam drive.
March 5
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I can't imagine East winning the ace of clubs if he has a doubleton spade. It is trivial for him to see that he can deprive you of any dummy entry by ducking. So, I'll play for the spades to be 3-3.
March 5
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If this is accurate, instead of Jeff and Eric they have Geoff and Eric. Nothing has changed.
March 5
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Marty,

Standard is sometimes better vs. NT when there are unblocking considerations. A couple of examples:

Partner leads the king (assumed from KQ), dummy has stiff small, you have A10x. If partner has KQ9xx, you must play the 10.

Partner leads small, dummy wins stiff ace, you have K10x. If partner has Q9xxx, you must play the 10.

There are probably some other similar positions.

It is for these reasons (and the ace from AK reason vs. suits) that I prefer to play standard at trick 1 and UDCA later.
March 5
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No. It is correct as written. When you are scrambling, you want to make as few artificial bids as possible. If 2 showed spades, that would give LHO a free shot to double (or not double), which can only help the opponents.
March 4
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Ducking in both hands is clearly wrong. As Michael points out, you won't be happy seeing a club shift, which is what you will probably get if West has a singleton heart.

Between the others, it looks pretty close. Vacant spaces says the ace of diamonds is more likely to be with West. On the other hand, playing small and winning the king works when West has a stiff heart or J10 doubleton regardless of who has the ace of diamonds, and these possibilities may cancel out the vacant spaces argument.
March 4
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From South's point of view: South has the UI from the failure to alert that North has mis-interpreted the 3 call. South may not take an action which is suggested by this UI vs. a less successful LA. South's hand is as minimal as can be for a splinter, so I think South's 5 bid is clear. However, suppose South had made a 5 Q-bid as some suggested. What would happen? Clearly North would have bid 5, which North would think is a Q-bid. And now South would have a 100% clear pass, since from his point of view 5 is a signoff. In fact, if I were South and were trying to take advantage of the UI I would have bid 5, since it is almost certain that North will come back with 5. Thus, the 5 call by South was not only the correct bid, it was the bid which was NOT suggested by the UI.

From North's point of view: North doesn't have any bridge UI, but he does have the UI from South's huddle over 4. I don't think this means anything. Clearly South must have some kind of problem to come up with this apparently strange 5 call. In addition, what is 5 all about. North thinks South has described his hand with the 3 call, and North has placed the contract. South has a mandatory pass if he has what North thinks he has. The 5 bid clearly says this is not the case, so North can figure out what is going on. If the 5 bid had been made in 2 seconds that might be UI which suggests passing, but if anything the huddle before bidding 5 suggests the opposite.

From West's point of view: I agree that West would likely have doubled 3 had West known it was a splinter. Had that happened, it would definitely have cleared up any ambiguity in North's mind (North must have been wondering what he was doing holding 4 spades with East having made a takeout double and South having a 3 preempt). It would only have helped N-S get to the right contract.

What about the opening lead? From what I understand, the mixup was clarified before the opening lead was made, so no MI there. Would the double have made a trump lead more attractive? If anything, I think the opposite. With no double a spade lead isn't safe, since North might have AJ10 of spades. With a double, a spade lead is safe. A trump lead is never safe.

Thus, I don't see any point of damage.
March 4
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If you have the queen it is doubleton, unless declarer is doing something strange.

In addition, I don't understand why he didn't shift to a diamond rather than a spade.

I think this one is on your partner, not on you.
March 3
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Why in the world would your partner play the jack of clubs on the second round of clubs? I foolishly believed that declarer had 4 clubs, in which case I stand by my statement that cashing the king of spades can't swing the contract. His falsecard makes no sense to me. Not only does it mislead you, but it gives declarer an extra hand entry which might come in handy.
March 3
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I don't like it. The problem is that the opponents didn't move towards game, which places a lot of high cards in partner's hand. He is almost certain to hang you and bid too much, which is what happened. The best chance for a plus score is to defend 2.
March 3
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Thanks. Fixed.
March 3
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Do you remember declarer's hand? I'm having a difficult time constructing a consistent layout where cashing the king of spades costs the contract.

Also, if partner has nothing in spades higher than the 10 and a strong diamond holding, it seems odd that he would lead back his smallest spade, showing spade strength.
March 3
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