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All Western Regional Wrap-up
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Yesterday ended the All Western Regional, and not a day too soon. I'm completely exhausted! After a promising start, the tournament went south, and I had a couple of the worst tournament days I've had in a long while. I guess now that I'm playing against the big kids I should expect that more with stiffer competition. I still have so much to learn and improve on.

In our last event yesterday, I played in the A/X Swiss withKurt, Andrew and Nathan. It was a big field, and promised to be a lot of fun (which it did turn out to be, irrespective of results).

We won our first match against a good team by 7, the swing board being a game that we'd bid that our opponents did not. One bright spot was that I don't think we missed bidding any games, even though some we bid didn't make!

In the second match against an excellent team, there were two interesting boards. The first one lost us 13 IMPs, because we were in a different contract than at the other table. There was interference, and how each pair dealt with the interference influenced the final contract.

My partner picked up the following hand,

North
xxx
KQJxx
Ax
xxx
with me opening up the bidding. It started out:

1 (me) - 2NT (lefty) - ?

What's your bid with his hand? Decide before reading on...

He decided to bid 4 directly, as a move to prevent the opponents from finding their fit, rather than using Unusual over Unusual to show his long heart suit on the way to getting there. As it turned out, this prevented us from finding our heart fit, as my hand was as shown below in South:

North
xxx
KQJxx
Ax
xxx
South
AQ109x
xxx
KQx
xx

It just so happened there was a 5-0 spade split on my right, which I did have some hope of picking up had I planned for it. But of course I didn't, and with limited transportation to the board, I was down 2. (I think the best I can do is down 1, but there may indeed be a way to make it with ruffing finesses.)

At the other table, the bidding went:

1 - 2NT - 3 (good hand with hearts) - P - 4 ... all pass.

I don't really know how you decide which suit to play the contract in given the double fit. Maybe it's the person who wants to play the hand most who decides! Had we bid things this way I don't know whether he would have taken me back to spades after I raised his hearts, which would also be reasonable. But the fact of the matter is that hearts split nicely and the contract was much easier to make, especially since it was played from my hand. A ruff is harder to find, since the person with the void is on lead. (If they lead a , you can get in and pull trump immediately, before a ruff is possible.)

The second swing board was one where each side had a fit -- us in and them in . I was hoping partner would not compete to the five level as I had reasons from my hand to believe they weren't making their game, but I understood his reasoning for doing so. We won the auction, and he was down one. At the other table, the other pair also competed to 5. However, a defensive error allowed the contract to make. So that was another big swing. We played the other boards pretty flat, but those two swings cost 24 IMPs resulting in a big loss.

Match 3 was a bit frustrating. We had a really good match overall, winning six out of the eight boards and were doing very well in the match overall. However, we gave most of it away on one board with a distributional freak hand disaster.

I picked up the following hand in second seat, both sides vulnerable:

South
KJ10764
KJ10
953
6

Partner was dealer, and passed. Bidding proceeded as follows:

P - 1 - P - 1NT (semiforcing)...

... at this point I'm thinking this is sounding VERY interesting.

... 2 (partner) - 2 - P - 4 ...

I'm waiting with anticipation for the bidding to come around to me, as I'm thinking of cracking it, sensing that my partner has "stuff" and my cards are well placed. Unfortunately, my partner had other ideas, and after a long think, got back in the bidding with5. This promptly got doubled, and he was down four for -1100. Doh!

At the other table, the auction went a bit differently:

3 - 3 - P - 3N

4 - 4 - X - P

P - P

4 went down 1, for -200, so ultimately we lost 16 IMPs on that board and erased all the good work done by both sides in the rest of the match, and wound up losing the match by a little.

The full deal is shown below:

West
Q2
Q642
KJ
K9753
North
3
Q10842
AQJ10842
East
A9853
A9875
A76
South
KJ10764
KJ10
953
6
D

It is definitely tricky to deal with these super distributional hands and know what the right thing to do is. I find that I am more likely to make a bad decision (i.e., bid one more) if i feel like I haven't really shown my hand yet. And a 7-5-1-0 hand is certainly hard to describe in one bid. So I certainly have sympathy for partner's action.

Match 4 was a disaster. I was all excited that we'd bid to a 6NT slam on one board, but of course it wasn't hard to find (given that I had a 2 opener, and my partner had "stuff"). The slam was bid and made at the other table as well. We tied two boards and lost the other six on this one.

One big swing was a contract where we were in NT and the opponents were in hearts -- we open 1NT with five of a major and really don't have a great way to find 5-3 fits. Another board was one where the opponents went to 5, and we doubled, setting them 3; unfortunately, it turns out that 5 makes, so we lost some IMPs on that, since the other side were in the makeable game. We failed to set a contract at our table that didn't make at theirs. We also weren't able to find a 3NT game that was tricky to find. All in all, it was getting to be a good time for lunch!

In our penultimate match, we had two very interesting boards. One was a very sketchy slam which we stumbled into. As North, I picked up the following hand:

North
A52
KQ8732
2
QJ2

It was a nice shapely 12 count, and I was delighted when my partner gave me a two-over-one response. The bidding proceeded as shown below.

North
A52
KQ8732
2
QJ2
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

When partner bid 4, I was a bit puzzled and took the wrong inference from it. Since I'd shown a six-card heart suit already, I was curious about the delayed raise, and decided he must have some slam interest. I was also thinking about our double fit in hearts and clubs, and figured that he had to be short in spades (since I was short in diamonds). Well, it was more like I was hoping he was short in spades. So I decided to cue bid my A and see what he had to say. When he now bid 5, I was thinking he must be worried about diamonds, which of course, I wasn't. So I bid 6!

I think the reasoning about having this double fit was good; everything else was pure optimism on my part. The hands fit together like a glove as it turned out, and the important finesse was on. Having the long heart suit on which to pitch a spade loser allowed him to wrap up seven, for +1370. Understandably, they didn't bid slam at the other table, especially since our teammates interfered in their bidding with a 2 overcall. The other side ended up in a sensible contract of 4, making six.

The full deal is shown below:

West
K1094
J95
J643
94
North
A52
KQ8732
2
QJ2
East
QJ63
106
KQ975
K8
South
87
A4
A108
A107653
D

The second interesting board of the match was another distributional wonder. I picked up the following hand as North, no one vulnerable, east the dealer:

North
KJ9642
KJ
KQ93
3

The bidding started on my left as follows:

1 - 2 - 2 ...

What do you bid with my hand? Decide before turning the page.

Most sensible people would simply bid 2. It's 100% forcing as I'm an unpassed hand. So why not see if we actually have a spade fit before blasting to game? Well, I didn't, which was really a dumb move. I blasted to 4, figuring that my partner must have some spades, given the opponents' heart fit and lack of negative double. (I'd pictured my partner with 3 or 4 spades and 6 clubs.) Wishful thinking worked on the previous hand, but not on this one. I was down four (undoubled).

It turned out to be a great board, however. At the other table, the auction was a bit different:

1 - 2 - 2 - 2 (yes, sensible bid by their North!)

4 - 5 - X - all pass

The full hand is shown below:

West
A3
1083
J62
107652
North
KJ9642
KJ
KQ53
3
East
Q1085
AQ97642
A4
South
7
5
10987
AKQJ984
D

In fact, it turned out my 4 bid wasbrilliant! It prevented my partner from sac'ing in 5 and getting doubled, down a bunch. Our opponents didn't double us because they figured we had a place to run (which as it turns out, we didn't). The best place to be on this board is 3NT. But would you bid that with a spade six bagger? With the competition it would be hard to get to.

We wound up winning this match by a lot. One more match to go!

We won the final match of the day by a small margin, to finish with 57 VPs, not enough to place. There was a fascinating auction in that final match, one that would not be repeated. My hand and the auction is shown below

North
xxx
xxxx
KJ109x
Q
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1NT
2
P
3
X
3
P
3
X
4
X
P
P
4
P
P
P

As it turns out, East meant 2 as Michael's. Her partner had three spades, and raised spades at one point, not understanding that it was a Michael's bid. My partner and I took turns doubling the intermediate contracts, but for some reason neither of us saw fit to double the heart contract, because neither of us had length in that suit. But as the auction made absolutely no sense, and they were already way too high and probably working on a misfit, one of usshould have doubled. We set them three (vulnerable) against a plus at the other table for a ten-IMP gain. But it would have been nice to have come back with a +800 instead!

All in all it was a very fun day. That being said, I'm glad the tournament is over. I have a lot of things to work on in my game before the next tournament comes around!

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