Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Steve Bloom
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Yes, but if West started with four hearts, you can't make the hand anymore. You said in the article, “Or if the long hearts are with the long spades.” Unfortunately, you can't try to set up the clubs and then play hearts, hoping that West is 4-4 in the majors. Suppose, in my (2), that West is 4-4-3-2. You make if you play on hearts, but not if you play on clubs.
There are three possible lines, but you can't try to combine them against good defense.
A. Spade queen, East showing out, hearts. This works if hearts split or West has four or more hearts.
B. Duck a club, win heart return, club ace, spade queen, East showing out (if West shows out we'll revert to the heart elopement-ruff line), club ruff, making if either hearts or clubs split.
C. Duck a club, win heart return, spade queen as East shows out, give up a spade and try to squeeze East in hearts and clubs.
Your line is B, but gives up on A and C. Notice, if A works, West will overruff and play a trump, or heart. If C works, West will overruff and play another heart, killing the squeeze.
Still, I think your line is overwhelmingly correct when West shows four diamonds. Different diamond counts would lead me to try one of the other lines.
April 10, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Nice hand, but the title, “Another String …” seems to be a bit of an overbid. It's more like you have a few arrows in your quiver, but will have to choose one to shoot.

We can assume West has all the trumps, or the hand is pretty easy. Say you duck a club and West wins, and plays back the jack of spades. Where do you win it? You can win in dummy and try to ruff the fourth heart, or win in hand and try to set up clubs, but you can't try both. It's one arrow or the other. Indeed, you will never be able to test clubs and fall back on ruffing a heart in dummy.

Since West seems to have four diamonds, the first line succeeds when West is 4-4-4-1, while the second works when he is 4-2-4-3. That is clearly more likely, so the club split is the best arrow.

Here are two problems for the BridgeWinners community:
(1) What is the best line of play if the opponents lead fourth best (so West appears to have five diamonds)?
(2) What is the best line if you suspect that West held only three diamonds?
April 10, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Regarding the 2NT opener for big clubbers:
(1) We use a 1H relay, and show spades by bidding 2C over the relay. As Kit says, finding a major suit fit is very important.
(2) According to Rodwell, the main reason to use a natural 2NT opening is to better define balanced ranges when the opponents interfere. Sorting out hands is easy if you get a free auction.
(3) I think we gain more than we lose by keeping low on our strong hands, but there is a big trade-off. We have lost swings that start 1C - 1D - overcall when the auction went 2NT - 3NT at the other table. Fourth hand can suggest a lead against us.
(4) Don't underestimate the value of a free 2NT opening to describe some other hand. Balanced 20-21s are rare. If you can find a good use for 2NT that arises frequently, that is a nice bonus. Unfortunately, the C&C committee refuses to add any new 2NT openings to the database, but that is for another thread.
April 8, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
3NT, as is so often the case, was the best game contract. Maybe you should have punted with 3D and let partner try 3NT. 3NT would be even better if your methods hadn't helped them find the diamond lead.
April 6, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I Blackwood, looking a bit foolish here. I'll tell my teammates I saved over 4H.
April 5, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I agree with Danny, but in our partnership, pass is always the weakest option.
April 5, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Henry,
This is complicated stuff. Phil! Phil! We need you!
Your red and blue door example is correct, but only because you received unbiased, useful, information. Monty eliminated a door before we chose, and changed the odds. In contrast, if we had chosen a blue door and he revealed that the prize was not behind Red 1, we have learned nothing. Our odds are still one out of four, and the color odds haven't changed either.
In bridge, the expected value of a player's longest suit is just under 5 (say 4 3/4). If a player tells you that his longest suit is five cards in length, either through an opening bid, overcall, or lead, you have learned very little about “useful spaces”. If a player happens to drop 5 spades on the table, then you have learned a little - sometimes spades is not his longest suit. Likewise, if you play spades yourself and discover the count in that suit, you have learned something useful.
When a player voluntarily gives you information about his longest suit, that information is biased. It is useful, but only when that length deviates from the expected value of 5.
The best examples in Phil's article are situations where the opening leader's suit splits 4 and 3. Most players place a card using the 10-9 empty spaces principle. This is backwards. Since the opening leader's longest suit had only four cards, he is more likely to hold any missing card. His actual length was less than expected, opening up more spaces than usual.
April 5, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Henry,
I play the spade jack at trick one to try to read if West had AKxxxx. As to your odds changing because West has 5 spades to East's 3, that is bogus arithmetic (see Phil Martin's Monty Hall Trap). West chose, naturally enough, to lead his longest suit. That he has more cards in this suit then his partner does not change the original odds. There is a big difference between biased information - West led from a five card suit - and unbiased information, i.e., West dropped five spades on the table.
April 4, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
On the first hand, I like the auction 1C - 1D - 1N - 3N. Why look for a spade fit when opener will typically hold four spades only with a 4-3-3-3 distribution? On this layout, 4S is usually down if trumps are 4-1 (even if the long diamond sets up, the defense might be a tempo ahead), and always down if trumps are 5-0. 3NT will survive a bad spade split if diamonds are 3-3.
Sometimes partner chose 1NT rather than 1 spade because of weak spades and scattered values, say, Jxxx KQJ Qx QJxx. 3NT is laydown and four spades has no play.
If South does bid 2S and is raised, then bidding 3NT along the way has to be right.
April 4, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
As a straight percentage problem, leading the jack loses to stiff king onside, or 109 doubleton off. Leading low to the queen loses to singleton 10 or 9 off, and so is just slightly superior (the 109 doubleton being more likely than a singleton).
However, neither play is right. Why not start with the jack from dummy, to try to get a feel for East's holding? If it looks like spades are 5-3, I would continue the suit, and force some discards. Getting a count on the hand should help me decide whether to play East or West for a singleton club.
April 4, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I would bid 4NT, Blackwood. My best hope is that the next hand bids five clubs. I'll continue to 6 spades, and hope to sound like a player with a club loser, not a void. I'll gamble out 6S if there is no interference, and partner shows one key.
April 4, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Time to put this one to rest. There are two excellent plays available, the ten, for all the reasons spelled out by Georgios Loussis, and the three, even though the three only garnered one vote.

Picture how partner will react to the three. Where is the two? If declarer has it, then you have played low from something like J109xx or Q109xx, which is impossible. So you must have the two, and are trying to encourage. Voila!
April 3, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
The save feels like 800 or 1100. This could be right at IMPs, but the field never protects you in matchpoints, so I don't save.
April 3, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Agree. Sloppy analysis on my part. The diamond count is marked.
April 3, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
No, this is still very tough. Say you shift to a small spade, which keeps declarer from dummy if partner can beat the eight. Here the eight wins, and South wins a club finesse. Next comes the diamond queen. Now what. On this layout, you must win, but if South held, say, KQJ109xx – Qxx AQJ, you must duck.
OK, perhaps ace of spades, spade, to get a signal from partner, but then South has KQJ10xxx — Qxx AKJ, and you've let the game through.
April 3, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Without followup discussion, I bid 2D, and then 2S over 2H, hoping to pattern out.
April 2, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
The QJ of hearts together are worth more than 3 points, and the club ten is a bonus. This is a much better hand than, say, KJx Qxxx 8xxx 8x. If we bid 1NT and partner raises to three with some random 18 count like AJxx xx KQx AKJx, then we have overbid, but game has play. More often, this is a partscore hand, and getting the notrump in before South bids 1S or 1NT almost always works well.
April 2, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
This is a textbook position. Playing the ten, and losing to the king may dissuade partner from continuing the suit with A9xxx. He might decide you had J10x and look for your entry. Playing the jack will “place” the ten in declarers hand, so partner will always continue the suit. Either you have the queen, or declarer has KQ10 and a second stopper anyway.

This is the same theme as my poll question, but I had never seen that variant before.
April 1, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Henry, you misunderstood my remark. I said and voted for downgrading, but added that I would choose an overbid rather than opening a four-point+ spread 1NT. If I could open either 1D or 1NT depending on strength, then I would downgrade.
I have to choose a reasonable lie. Here, I am closer to 15 than to 17, so downgrading is easy. But, I am much closer to 17-19 than to 12-15, so I would like to know my systemic options. Since all five of his peers upgraded, I suspect that they understood the system nuances and considered overbidding the lesser lie.
March 31, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I downgrade, but would like to know my options. Can I distinguish easily between balanced 12-13 and 14-15? If not, then a five point spread is too high, and I would upgrade.
In our methods, we play a 12-15 notrump, and 1C, followed by 1NT is 16-17, or a very good 15. This is a 1C opener.
March 31, 2012
.

Bottom Home Top