Join Bridge Winners
2016 Invitational Pairs Qualifier
(Page of 8)

It was late January, and that meant that it was time for the Winterfest Sectional and the Chicago Invitational Pairs, consisting of a qualifying session Friday night followed by a barometer final Saturday afternoon.

Jack Oest and I did not exactly cover ourselves in glory last year, scoring slightly above average in both sessions, but we decided to give it another shot.

See how you do on these matchpoint deals from the qualifying session. The field is stronger than average for a Sectional but quite uneven.

First, a couple of "double or not" problems:

1. East-West vulnerable, North deals

South
QJ3
K8
K9652
J62
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
4
4
5
?

Partner opens 1, which can be light but not insane, RHO doubles, and you bid 2 to show a constructive spade raise (or would you have redoubled, planning on showing a stronger raise?). LHO jumps to 4, partner bids 4, and RHO bids 5.

Do you double?

2. Both sides vulnerable, West deals

South
AK982
943
K4
1075
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
?

West opens 1 and the opponents have an uncontested 2/1 auction to 4.

Do you double?

Solution 1:

West
10854
Q9432
AQ7
4
North
K9762
7
103
AKQ109
East
A
AJ1065
J84
8753
South
QJ3
K8
K9652
J62
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
4
4
5
?
D

I held the South hand and passed 5. Jack led a high club. Declarer ruffed the second round, lost a heart finesse, and eventually lost a diamond for down one. +100 scored 26/38 matchpoints. Doubling would have only picked up another 3.5 matchpoints. (Note that, at double dummy, 5 can be made from the East hand, but 10 tricks are the limit when West declares.)

Solution 2:

West
QJ763
A
93
KJ863
North
Q87652
J10852
92
East
1054
KJ10
AQ76
AQ4
South
AK982
943
K4
1075
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
?
D

With best play, 4 can make 10 tricks, so doubling risks turning an average-minus result into a near bottom. Twelve pairs played in 4 undoubled, and seven made 10 tricks. Three declarers were doubled in 4 and two succeeded.

Luckily, Jack did not face this problem: East Blackwooded over 4, so he got a crack at 5. Declarer mistimed the play and failed by two tricks: +500 netted 35.5 matchpoints out of 38.

Here's one to bid:

South
AKQ93
1096
J
KJ86
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
2
P
3
P
?

LHO deals and opens 1, and partner overcalls 2. You bid a forcing 2 (3 might have been a fit-jump, but I didn't want to wheel it out undiscussed), and partner rebids 3. 4 now would be Kickback, and you have not discussed what 4NT would be.

What call do you make?

South
AKQ93
1096
J
KJ86
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
2
P
3
P
?

Unless you want to ask for keycards now, there doesn't seem to be much alternative to 3. Partner bids 3NT.

What call do you make?

South
AKQ93
1096
J
KJ86
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
?

Passing is a reasonable matchpoint shot, but I decided to move toward slam with 4. Partner bid 4, an offer to play (his 4 would have been Kickbackand 4 a cuebid).

What now?

The full deal:

West
J5
KQ754
AK108
73
North
104
A82
Q2
AQ10542
East
8762
J3
976543
9
South
AKQ93
1096
J
KJ86
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
4
P
4
P
?
D

After long thought, I decided to pass 4, because it rated to be an acceptablematchpointcontract, and I didn't think slam would be that good. Partner had passed up the chance tocuebidthe A, after all, so placing him without that card meant he would need both outside acesandthe Kfor slam to have play, and with that good a hand (and likely the Qin addition) he probably would have cooperated over 4.

Jack had made amatchpointbid of his own by bidding 4 rather thancuebiddingthe A, but based on his hand, it was difficult to see slam in the cards: I would need strong black-suit holdingsplus a diamond control. Whether 4 is the best bid or not, it is certainly reasonable, and I expected +480 tomatchpointwell, even though 6 was virtuallylaydownand 6 would make on the layout.

So how did we score? Below average! Was that because the field found the excellent 6? Hardly—only two pairs bid these cards to slam. The most common result was +490 in 3NT, when East led his partner's suit. You know what they say: any holding is a stopper when they lead something else.

Now try a couple of opening leads:

1. East-West vulnerable, East deals

West
J86
A96
J82
K987
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
3
P
3
P
P
P

Partner opens 1, RHO jumps to 2, and you pass. LHO cuebids 3 (no specific agreement) and passes his partner's return to 3.

What do you lead?

2. East-West vulnerable, East deals

West
J86
A96
J82
K987
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
4
P
P
P

Look familiar? Partner opens 1, RHO jumps to 2, you pass, and LHO simply jumps to 4.

What do you lead?

Solution:

West
J86
A96
J82
K987
North
94
K3
AQ10763
A52
East
AKQ2
105
K95
J1064
South
10753
QJ8742
4
Q3
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
3
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

The player who faced the second auction (the jump to 4) led a club, which rode to the Q. Declarer worked on diamonds, and the defense scored only two spades, the A, and the K for +50.

I was on lead against 3, and I led a low trump. Declarer won in hand and led a diamond to the 10 and king. Jack switched to the Q, cashed the A, and played his second trump. I won the A and returned the J, which Jack overtook to give me a fourth-round spade ruff for down two: +100.

Leading the A would theoretically have been equally effective, but the defense must be more careful with the spades. If declarer draws trumps and leads a diamond to the 10, blocking the spades fatally allows declarer to escape for down one. This is the position after A and a heart. Declarer unblocks the K from dummy and draws trumps, then leads a diamond to the 10 and king.

West
J86
J2
K987
North
94
AQ76
A52
East
AKQ2
95
J104
South
10753
J87
Q3
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
3
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Should East work out to underlead on the second round of spades after the Q fetches the 7 from declarer and the 6 (upside-down attitude) from West?

West
J86
J2
K987
North
94
AQ76
A52
East
AKQ2
95
J104
South
10753
J87
Q3
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
3
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Declarer's play of the 7 scrambles the defenders' signals, making the 6 unreadable.

West would only discourage with the 6 from653. With 106x or 10653, he can afford the 10. Declarer's failure to win the A and (try to) run the diamonds marks East with that card. Looking at running diamonds in dummy, East would not risk switching to the Q from AQJ(x), and declarer would probably have covered with the K in that unlikely case. Thus, East has AKQ(x), andthe 10 is immaterial: if declarer has three spades, East's low spade will be high, and if declarer has four spades, the J stands up on the fourth round.

West would encourage with the6 from J86, J76, or J876—not J106, J1086, or J1076, with which he would play the J (not to mention the possibility of a spade lead at trick one from those holdings).

That makes West's holding the J a roughly 3:1 favorite.

The fact that South actually followed with the 7 is irrelevant to calculating the original odds of West's spot being encouraging or discouraging. As in restricted choice calculations, you either look at the originalholdings or you weight the remaining cases. One example: because South can follow with the 8 or the 7 from J1087, the case where the 6 is discouraging is given only half weight. For more on this topic, see "The Odds in Signaling" and "A Dying Art Form" byAndersWirgren(in theNovember 2005 and August 2007Bridge Worlds, respectively).

Are 3:1 odds enough to justify underleading on the second round of spades? I don't know. There are more issues than the spade suit in a vacuum: How likely is declarer to have bid 2 with four spades? If that chance is to be discounted, thenunderleadingspades can only cost. Plus, when the underlead is wrong, it costs two tricks, because the diamonds run.Is it necessary, atmatchpoints, to collect +100 against 3—at the risk of declarer making an overtrick—or is enough toguarantee the set by playing spades from the top?

This is more thought than most players—myself very much included—would give this problem at the table, except perhaps in theReisinger. Taking the money by cashing the top spades is probably the right approach for a number of reasons: Beating contracts is good for morale and partnership harmony (who wants to take a deep position and turn a plus into a minus?). Quickly cashing the spades saves you energy, saves partner the agony of sitting there without the J while you contemplate blowing up the whole deal, and saves everyone time. Plus, a matchpoint analysis likely indicates that it is the percentage play.

I'm happy to have led a low heart, so we avoided the headache of how to handle the spades.

This deal caught my attention (click NEXT to follow the play):

West
9763
AQ54
J8653
North
985
AJ1084
K3
K72
East
Q1042
K2
J9762
Q4
South
AKJ763
Q5
108
A109
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
1
1N
P
2
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
3
7
10
0
0
1
4
K
6
8
1
1
1
9
2
A
6
3
2
1
Q
3
4
K
2
2
2
2
5
6
8
1
3
2
A
4
6
7
3
4
2
10
3
K
4
1
5
2
J
10
J
9
3
6
2
K
5
5
Q
3
7
2
3
5
8
2
1
8
2
10
9
9
Q
1
9
2
2
Q
A
8
3
10
2
7
J
7
J
3
11
2
N/S +650
13

You arrive in 4 after West has shown both minors and East has bid diamonds. West leads the A (East plays an upside-down 7) and continues despite the discouraging signal. You lead the 9 to the ace and get mixed news when West shows out. Your spade spots are robust enough to pick up the suit without loss, but dummy entries are somewhat limited.

You run the Q. Say East wins and continues with a heart,which goes to dummy. Now you play a winning heart from dummy, which East ruffs low (if she discards, so do you, and then you pick up trumps with two finesses). You overruff and play a club to dummy. A fourth heart puts East on the horns of a similar dilemma. She ruffs, and you overruff, but now you can draw the last trump and lead a low spade to dummy's 8 to cash the fifth heart for +650 and an excellent matchpoint score.

Speaking of an excellent matchpoint score, one pair found a way to make 12 tricks in spades. How did that happen? West led a heart to East's king, and East returned the Q. Declarer hopped with the ace and cashed the A. Now a heart to dummy and a spade,not covered. A third spade picked up the trump suit without loss, and dummy's K was the entry to takethree discards for +680. Not surprisingly, that result was a worldwide top.

Jack and I finished 5th overall out of 88 pairs and 3rd in our direction. We had good carryover (for a change) and high hopes going into the final session.

(To be continued.)

26 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top