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All comments by Steve Bloom
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If North was going to play diamonds this way, the hand was cold. Just don't draw both trumps early. One trump, club to ace, diamond ten, jack, ace, club ruff, trump to hand, club ruff, diamond.

This is the right line anyway, maybe South wouldn't unblock.
June 11, 2012
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Don't know. I think you have to set up the diamonds. After a trump, and West shows out, play diamonds. If East shows out, we can make the hand when East has something like - - QJxx AKxxxxxxx, by leading the club queen and discarding a diamond.

This risks the contract when East is 0-0-3-10, so I am going to have to think about this for a while.
June 10, 2012
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Ron Gerard once told me that huddles always show extra values! That's an exaggeration, but true most of the time.
June 10, 2012
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I try 3C. If partner jumps to four of a major, I try 7. Over 3 of a major, 5NT pick a slam seems right, or just 6NT. Over 3D? Who knows. Probably 4NT, 5NT and play 7 opposite a king.
June 9, 2012
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The South hand said, (1) I have short diamonds, and then (2) I have even shorter diamonds, but still don't know the right strain. Doesn't that sound like, say, AKJ10xx AQx x Kxx? So why didn't partner bid the obvious four spades? His 5-count was now huge. Indeed, couldn't you have a diamond void on the auction, making 6S possible?

I gave this to my wife/partner, and she considered 2H an underbid, and couldn't imagine not bidding a game on the next round.
June 9, 2012
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Nice points. Here is another common example: Most pairs play the auction 1S - (2D overcall) - 2S - (3D) - 3H as an artificial game try, with 3S competitive. I think 3H should be a natural game try, with double showing a club side suit.

Likewise, on a auction like 1H - (1S overcall) - 2S - (3S), opener needs to distinguish between distributional two-suiters and strong two-suiters. If opener bids, say, 4C and next hand bids four spades, is a pass forcing? I like using double and 3NT as surrogate bids, showing strong two-suiters, and setting up a forcing auction.
June 9, 2012
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Good morning Bob. I got a cryptic phone message from Jeff last night, saying he has some Hamman hands to tell me about. Can you give me some hints?
June 9, 2012
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True (though I think you mean the spade king), but you don't know that, North could easily have AJxx in spades. Had the diamond held, you might lead a club up for another diamond finesse, and a club would now beat you.
June 9, 2012
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As a lifelong overbidder, I find it hard to support your view on either of these hands. On the first, I'd have gotten to the five level, down two, and lost 3 IMPs for my efforts.

On the second hand, both Easts might well have driven to an awful slam (though 6D has play). They'd have gone down 3, probably undoubled, and won a ton of IMPs for accidentally finding a save!

Think of all the ways to gain by overbidding - (1) The contract turns into a lucky make. (2) The cards lie poorly, and both finesses lose, so the contract turns into a lucky save. I can't tell you how often we have bid something like 1S X 4S to a hopeless game, down a trick or two, and found our teammates were making four hearts. (3) The contract should go down, but they guessed the wrong opening lead, and it made. (4) Their contract should go down, but you would have found your typically hopeless opening lead, and let it make. (5) The pressure of your overbid caused them to misjudge, and bid one more. (6) Forcing to game early left you the room to find the best strain. So you played a poor five clubs while they played a hopeless 3NT. (7) Forcing to game early made it sound as though you had extra hidden values. Game went down two, when trumps split 4-1, but no one doubled. Your teammates had an easy double after the invitational auction got to the same game.

All of these gain large numbers of IMPs. In your two examples, the overbids cost 3 and 5 IMPs respectively.
June 9, 2012
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My guess is North blanked out. He knew they were off the club ace, and that he had a lot wasted opposite short hearts. He simply didn't picture throwing partner's spades on his hearts.
June 8, 2012
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Nothing in the auction suggests that the opponents were willing to stop at a partial. 3NT was more or less forcing, and if by some chance North passed, the penalty, at 100 a trick would be quite sufficient.
West might well be planning on bidding four hearts or doubling four diamonds. To bid four clubs now, and double four hearts because the auction sounds funny is silly. To bid four clubs now, and double four hearts, trying to persuade partner to give you diamond ruffs makes more sense.
June 8, 2012
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Having only two spades worries me - my guess is partner has strength, but is offshape. Guessing 3 of a minor, and hitting partner's doubleton would be fatal, so I overbid with 3S, planning to pass four of a minor. I checked with the boss, and she considers the cue-bid forcing to game, so passing 4 of a minor might get me in a lot of trouble. Oh well.

Typically, if the choices are underbidding, and risking the wrong strain, or overbidding and finding the right suit, but at the wrong level, it is worth overbidding.
June 8, 2012
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Yes. If the hearts are very friendly, both lines work, and all this is academic. The cases we really need to compare are these:
(1) West has two small hearts and not J9x in trumps.
(2) West has Qxxx in hearts and exactly J9 in trumps.
(3) West has Qxxxx in hearts and two or three trumps.
(4) Either player has Qxxx(x) in hearts but spades and trumps are friendly.
I should redo the math, but my gut says that (1) and (2) are more likely than (4), but (1) and (2) are less likely than (3) and (4). So I start on trumps.

However, you are right, and the conditional (4) is actually around 7 or 8%, so the two lines are very very close.
June 7, 2012
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Well, the auction would often go 2C-2D-2S-2NT, leaving you quite well placed, where partner could show a fragment on the way to 3NT. When partner jammed the auction, your plans were spoiled.
June 6, 2012
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Was this hand brilliant? I'm not so sure. The odd lead-inhibiting double marked the clubs for declarer, and the way the play proceeded was easy to anticipate. Essentially, declarer played for the diamonds running. The alternative, after the diamond finesse held, was diamond ace, diamonds, which would make whenever the diamond king was doubleton, or the spade ace was onside. That looks like a better percentage line.

Without the double, declarer would always continue with a club to the king, and (possibly) go down. But the double somehow talked Wheeler out of her normal club lead, which would set the hand easily.
June 6, 2012
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Who cares where they win the diamond? Spade ace, heart to king, heart to jack, with E showing out. Diamonds. No one has a winner to cash and you take five diamonds, 3 hearts, two and two.

As far as not being worse off - in your line, you cashed two diamonds, no honor dropped, so you went after hearts. The finesse is on, but fourth, and you can't get to hand to take a club finesse, so you go down even with diamonds 3-3 and both finesses on.
June 5, 2012
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I mostly follow Jeff's (first) line. Think of it like this - suppose you knew ahead of time that both red suits split. Setting up the diamond suit gets you up to 11 tricks. You'll probably try to drop the heart queen, then fall back on the club finesse.

Playing on hearts makes when either finesse works. So hearts must be better than diamonds.

I win the ace of spades, play a heart to the king and a heart to the jack. If West shows out, shift gears and go for diamonds and clubs. If the finesse wins but hearts are 4-1, cash the diamond ace and king, and give up a diamond if an honor drops. If both follow low, its a toss-up, but I would try another diamond.
June 5, 2012
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Hit the Next button. I've inserted a comment to that effect.

The play went trump to the ace, singleton heart shift, to the ace, heart continuation, to the jack, ruffed with the trump nine.
June 4, 2012
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Thanks for all the feedback. I ran a simulation, and 3NT was the best guess, with four spades a close second. At the table, Betty tried four spades. I held QJ109 Kx x AK108xx, making 3NT hopeless, and 5C mostly on the spade finesse and no second trump loser. Four hearts might be the best game, but that was now out of reach.

Four spades, after the defense attacked diamonds needed clubs three-two and spades three-three (AK clubs, club ruffed with the ace, trumps). Since spades were three-three with the king offside, four spades was the only game that would make. Luck is nice …
June 4, 2012
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Betty actually opted for the 2N move. We have to start with 2D to show an invitational notrump hand. 2C - 2NT is artificial. Her plan was to invite in notrump if I showed spades, and settle for 3C if I showed a minimum with long clubs.
June 4, 2012
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