Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Richard Lawson
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Partner's hand:

AQx
xx
Qxxx
Kxxx

West has AKJ of diamonds over this hand. Against 3S the defense can take two spades and two clubs.

I was the “slow” bidder. Against almost anyone else I'd feel good about making a penalty double, but my LHO is such a conservative bidder, I couldn't imagine him making a 3S bid vulnerable at teams without expecting a make.

Once I eventually decided I couldn't double 3S, I had to decide between passing or bidding. It's quite possible that going -140 is the only winning action, but it went against all my bridge instincts to let them play undoubled when we have more high-card points. 4H could be a disaster, of course, going for -500 when in fact 3S was going down one.

I took so long to take a bid my RHO asked my partner to acknowledge I was hesitating. In the end I decided to bid 4H as a two-way shot. Either it was making or it was a good white sacrifice against 3S. Given that we had the majority of the high-card points, I rated a double to be unlikely.

The success or failure of 4H depends entirely on the opening lead. A spade lead allows 4H to make; a diamond leads to down two. Partner actually got a club lead, and was down one.

The sad thing is we talked the opponents out of going down. At the other table, North/South were silent and partners bid 4S freely. So we were down one at both tables.

After the hand partner said he always intended to pull a penalty double, but the more I thought, the less certain he felt he would be allowed to do so ethically. Thus the poll.
Jan. 15
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This is incredibly useful. Thanks for the detailed analysis.

How did you arrive at these figures? By hand? I've been looking for a good bridge single-dummy analyzer for quite some time but can't find one.

I used to be a math major with a predilection for statistical analysis, so I understand the methodology but find the actual calculations tedious, which is why I keep hoping that someone has found the tools to do that for me. :)
Jan. 11
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I had the dealer wrong. This was Board 8. West dealt. I'll fix that.
Jan. 4
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Peg Kaplan has declarer's hand almost exactly right.

K9x
AT
AKQJxx
AQ

Leading either a diamond or a high heart honor kills the contract.

You still have to defend accurately on a diamond lead. On the run of the diamonds you have to reduce to AQJ KJ - Kx. When declarer now plays Ace of hearts and exits with the Ten, you hopefully have been told by partner they hold a heart card so you know to unblock the King of hearts under the Ace. Partner, who started with Q8xx and has hopefully been following the heart spots, has to overtake your Jack with the Queen and cash the Eight, which squeezes declarer in the black suits.

While the King of hearts lead makes the defense easier on this hand, it fails if you switch declarer's club and heart holdings. A diamond lead gives you and partner the chance to work out the best defense, but requires you both to be paying attention.

Of course give declarer:

Kx
Ax
AKQTxxx
Ax

Congratulations, diamond leaders: You've found the only lead that allows the contract to make.

In summary: bridge is hard.
Dec. 26, 2018
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FWIW, 6C makes on the actual layout. Clubs break 3-2 and the opening leader has the King of hearts.
Dec. 11, 2018
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Thank you everyone for the kind words of encouragement. I will continue to publish these reports until bridge dies out altogether. I have fun writing them, and that should be all that matters.
Nov. 21, 2018
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Sounds like there is not much of an appetite for these kind of articles on the main page of BW. I'll hold off posting more until we get a robot-dedicated forum.
Nov. 20, 2018
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They lead small from xxx. The robots don't understand the concept of attitude leads yet.
Nov. 20, 2018
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Very good point. West is unlikely to be leading a doubleton heart, so odds are very good I can set up the Nine of hearts.
Nov. 20, 2018
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I had never read the original article before. That was actually quite a dark and grim read. I think he was going for dark humor and missed.

Thanks for linking, anyway. Great to see where these terms come from.
Nov. 8, 2018
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I did this many years ago in a KO match. It reads like a Victor Mollo story, but I did it intentionally, deciding it was the best line:

AJ8
x
AKxxxx
xxx

KQTxxx
Ax
-
AKxxx

In a very competitive auction we got to 7S on a heart lead. Since the opponents had bid very high on so few points, I was pretty sure the trumps were at best 3-1. So the only way I could set up and run the diamonds (assuming they were 4-3) was to hope trumps were 3-1, diamonds 4-3, and that somehow the Eight of spades would be an entry. Two legitimate lines: hope the Nine of spades is singleton, or take a second-round finesse of the Eight. A good line that combines your chances: Win the heart, spade to the Ace, ruff a diamond. If the Nine of spades hasn't appeared, lead another spade, intending to finesse the Eight. This of course depends on your read of the trumps being 3-1.

Instead of all that, I decided to Grosvenor the opponents. My shortness was undisclosed, and in fact I had invoked Blackwood along the way. So I won the Ace of hearts, ruffed a heart, and then ran my trumps, stranding the AK of diamonds in dummy with no way to get to them.

The opponents had a chance to set me by holding onto clubs and pitching diamonds. In fact they both did the opposite, and at trick nine I claimed the last five tricks with my AKxxx of clubs.

The sad thing is this was only a push. The other table also got to 7S, and made it when the Nine of spades was, in fact, singleton and diamonds broke 4-3. We lost the match, when we would have won if they had stopped in 6S or if they had gone down in 7S.

Still, this bit of work does meet the strict requirements for a Grovesnor: I had a legitimate way to make the contract but eschewed it. This gave the opponents a chance to set me that they didn't have before. But because they couldn't believe I would strand winners in the dummy, they didn't take advantage.
Nov. 7, 2018
Richard Lawson edited this comment Nov. 7, 2018
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Andy and I had our one and only major fight over exactly this kind of hand. Intermediate hands with 5-4 in the majors opposite partner's 1m opening are so difficult to describe. If you push too hard, you find that partner has opened a shapely 11-count and you're in something like 3NTx down a few. If you soft-pedal, now partner is - KQxx KQxxx Axxx and you make 6H.

The agreement that saved our partnership is (as Danny commented above) Reverse Flannery. Over a 1m opener, 2H shows 4+ hearts, 5+ spades, and intermediate values. There are asking bids partner can make to get more details about shape and strength. Usually, partner just places the contract - 2S, 3C, and 3D are all to play.

Bobby Wolff would probably disapprove, but honestly, Reverse Flannery filled a big hole in our system. We've had no major bidding disagreements since.
Nov. 2, 2018
Richard Lawson edited this comment Nov. 2, 2018
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I watched as my teammates bid this grand, and I can't pin my finger on what exactly went wrong. Change West's hand very slightly - KQxx Qxxx xx AKxx - and the grand is cold. In a Flight A event, half the field bid this grand and went down.

How would you and your favorite partner bid this hand?
Oct. 8, 2018
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I did some research into gambling addiction back when I first started playing poker, so I could keep an open and honest look at my own behavior to make certain I wasn't succumbing. I'm pretty sure I did not.

One common story among gambling addicts is that they hit it big early in their gambling experience. They got addicted to the rush, the high, before finding out how rare it is. They throw good money after bad trying to recapture that feeling.

So if I had won 11 pots in a row before learning how to control my bankroll, I might be too broke to even play bridge right now. :)
Oct. 4, 2018
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I understood just fine, Serge. I have a similar dislike for Jxxx leads.

The decider in this instance for me was the quality of the intermediates.
Oct. 3, 2018
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Very good questions.

My partner in this weekend's NAP Regional Finals and I like to lead top of 9xx or lower and second-high from 9xxx. But…

Ancillary to the question posed in the poll is what do we lead from 98xx. One of us says the Nine and the other of us says the Eight. We're both in agreement on Seven from 97xx or 87xx.

Once we agree on what to lead from J98x, we'll know what to lead from 98xx.

Interested in your thoughts on this.
Oct. 3, 2018
Richard Lawson edited this comment Oct. 3, 2018
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Personally, I would bid 3NT with the above hand. Yes, I give up on slam opposite AJxx xx Qxx Kxxx. But it also avoids ambiguous auctions. By bidding 3H you can very easily end up in 5C/5D down one or just making with 3NT cold for ten tricks.

Preempts work.
Oct. 3, 2018
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I once doubled a 4C contract playing rubber bridge holding four inescapable winners in my hand. We set it one and everyone at the table made nasty comments about my double. Sure, I had them set in my hand - but what if partner revoked?

I quickly learned that most rubber bridge players are risk-adverse. Take the money in hand. Winning 7 points on the rubber is always preferable to losing 2 points even if the odds were better-than-even at making 11 points.
Oct. 3, 2018
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In my favorite partnership, this is Blackwood agreeing diamonds.

Absent that, it has to be a cuebid. There should be no choice-of-game implications since North is very clearly showing long, strong diamonds.
Oct. 3, 2018
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I like to play poker. Here is the definition of the difference between a good poker player and a bad poker player.

When the cards are running against you, a good poker player loses money. A bad poker player loses a lot of money.

When I was still a novice poker player, I got into a three-way 15/30 limit Hold ‘Em. Figuring that I was bound to win 33% of the hands, I got into every pot. Instead, I proceeded to lose the next eleven pots until I was broke. It was humiliating. As statistically unlikely as it is to lose eleven hands in a row playing three-handed, it doesn’t change the fact that I was playing bad poker and getting punished for it.

I took that lesson to heart. When things are not going your way, don't start playing badly trying to catch up. Your advantage is your greater skill; *use* it. Don't throw it away chasing a mirage.

That applies to bridge as well as poker.

Now, I had to learn that lesson personally. I did at one time push to try and make up for previous bad results. That's the fallacy of sunk costs, and it's human nature to believe in it. I did when I was much younger and inexperienced.
Oct. 3, 2018
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