Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Steve Bloom
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Tongue in cheek, of course, but I do remember scoring 1430 in a Swiss match while the many-time National Champions at the other table bid P - P - P - P.
June 3, 2012
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Matchpoints is a sad distortion. This problem is pretty close in Matchpoints, since our median score might be negative. Clearly our mean expected score is quite high, and passing the hand out in IMPs is ridiculous.

I still open in Matchpoints for these reasons: Our opponents will have to judge the hand well to go plus. Most pairs our way will go plus, so opening might lead to a negative score, but passing the hand out rates to be below average anyway.
June 3, 2012
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I remember this hand. It came up in a KO. Partner had passed QJxxx xxxx A Axx, because too many honors were in the short suits. We passed the hand out, but didn't score too well against the 1430 at the other table.
June 3, 2012
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To Aviv: We use our judgment. Usually 3S shows most of the values in the two suits, but could easily have a red suit ace, or Kx(x). I would not bid 3S with KJxx A Kx KJxxxx, but would with both black tens.
To David: 2H was an option on round 1, though it is nonforcing. This hand is a maximum 2H. My partner chose 2D and faced this problem.
June 2, 2012
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Assuming no trump loser, I will make if the heart queen falls in three rounds. I see two extra chances - start hearts early, so I can overruff if West has two small hearts, or try to develop the spades. I can't try both, and spades looks better to me. So:

Win in hand and club to queen. If East has all four clubs, I can still finesse and trump a heart. I'll need a lucky heart lie. If both follow, I ruff a spade and draw another trump. If trumps are 3-1, I'll probably need to drop the heart queen, but I may survive if the spade ace drops early. If trumps split, the play is easy. Heart to ace, spade ruff, heart king, heart ruff. If the heart queen is still out, take a ruffing finesse in spades.

Comparing the two lines - playing hearts gains when East has Qxxx in hearts (16%) so long as West doesn't have J9x in trumps, though you may survive that if the spade ace drops, call it 14%. It also works when West has Qxxx in hearts and the J9 of trumps. It costs the contract when West has five hearts and trumps are 2-2.

Playing on spades works when trumps split, spades are 4-3, with the ace onside, a little over 12%. In both lines, I can take advantage of a doubleton spade ace, when trumps split. The spade line adds in Jx in spades with West, or five hearts with West, when trumps split. West will certainly hold five hearts to the queen and two or three trumps much more often than 2% of the time, so the spade line is better.
June 2, 2012
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3N could easily be right - give partner a nice hand like KQx KQxx AQJxx x, and we might make (and might finish down four!). So you can go high with 3NT or low with 3D. I don't see any other realistic options, but you didn't include 3D as a choice.
June 1, 2012
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You lost me here. Declarer has scored three diamonds, set up three spade winners for six, has the heart ace, and you give him a club winner. That's eight.
May 30, 2012
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Nice analysis, John. At the table, you might play differently, depending on the auction and opponents. If LHO had a chance to bid and didn't, I would lean toward the more balanced pattern - QJ, rather than a singleton honor.
May 29, 2012
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Sloppy play all around. Forget the lead, which was bizarre. Why fly up with the club ace? And why did Granny waste a key trump spot on the fourth spade?
May 29, 2012
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Barry is right, but the spade back gives you other options. A strong defender would never let you set up a black suit squeeze, but ordinary defenders??? In any event, you run hearts pitching the diamond from hand and cash one diamond. At that stage, you have to decide who has the club length. If East, cross in clubs and cash the last club. If West, cash the diamond.
May 29, 2012
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Nice point. Pass loses a lot of its luster if you bar partner.
May 29, 2012
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Qx is too weird on this auction. North announced 6 diamonds yet South asked for the queen. I can't believe South would bid this way with J10xx.
May 29, 2012
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I need to know if the diamonds can be established. Since partner is marked with the diamond queen, I would expect partner to play low-jack or jack-low with QJx. Likewise, low and ten from Q10x. This unusual play should be announcing QJ10x in diamonds, so I am with Bill Hall here.
May 28, 2012
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I chose 4C, though it tortures partner. I'll correct 4H to 4S. No one has voted for 4D, but that's the call chosen by my regular partner. She argued: (1) I'll try 4S next, if doubled. (2) That avoids any ambiguity, and gets partner off to the right lead against 5C.
May 28, 2012
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It just occurred to me: If West held Qxxx K10x Axx Q10x, he could beat the contract (when South holds KJxxx in clubs) by ruffing the diamond and playing a club to partner before cashing the spade queen. So the actual defense should mark the club ace.
May 27, 2012
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Oddly enough, if declarer has KJxxx of clubs, West can't play a club to his partner's “ace” for a heart through. South keeps the queen (the carding marks the king, and the distribution), and North leads the last trump, strip-squeezing West.

Since West might try this defense anyway - necessary if partner has AJ of clubs, and East might have bid with six hearts and the club ace, I think declarer should get the hand right. But the club ace might not be so marked in declarer's mind.

As to the actual play, I still don't see how declarer could gain by playing on diamonds. Losing a trick to the small trump might sometimes come back, but never with interest. If declarer didn't want East to win the third spade and put a heart through, then he should start on clubs.
May 27, 2012
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Yep. Those pesky trump aces!
May 27, 2012
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I don't understand the line of play chosen by declarer - running diamonds and letting someone score the little trump makes no sense. After the spade jack dropped, it looks like declarer could continue trumps, hoping the spade queen was with the heart king, as here, or start on clubs. Either line would work.

The observation - “If declarer also has the club J there is no way your side can take more than 2 tricks” is not valid. Declarer would still need to guess the clubs, if partner holds 10x, so long as West shifts to the heart king. Shifting to a low heart gives declarer two entries to dummy to lead clubs, the heart ace, and the later heart ruff. Shifting to the heart king forces declarer to make a club play immediately. The next heart locks declarer in hand, and he'll have to guess clubs.
May 27, 2012
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Agreed.
May 27, 2012
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Bidding 5NT to show one of two voids doesn't bother me - presumably partner could ask with 6C.

Let's change the E-W distribution around, giving West something like Ax QJxxx K10x Axx. 4H is down one, but four spades makes for N-S. On the N-S cards, 4S is usually a good save or make.

Should South overcall? Doubtful. So that leaves North. I would double 2NT with the North hand, and, unfortunately, lose the diamond lead.
May 26, 2012
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