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Oren Kriegel Doesn't Play at My Club
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I have a partner with whom I regularly play on the first Tuesday of the month.  Having learned at the last minute that he was out of state, I showed up solo and learned as well that there was a special game that evening.  I was matched up with a fellow flight B player, and with minimal discussion, we sat down, table 7 of 12, sitting East (me)/West (him).

Most of us know that the normal way to run a 12-table game is to play boards 1-24 with a relay and bye-stand, so that there is a full comparison.  And of course our director knew that too.  But as this was an ACBL-wide game where extreme scores were rewarded, he chose to put out all 36 boards and play three-board rounds.  This also had the advantage of cutting a few minutes off the ending time.

The ACBL got Oren Kriegel to write up analyses of all the boards, which are available for reference at http://web2.acbl.org/documentLibrary/play/analysis/JFA.pdf (conveniently saving me the trouble of typing in all 1224 cards).  These write-ups tell what would happen with four competent and sane players.  It is obvious that Oren has never been to my club.  I’ve written up what actually happened at my table with some comments about results elsewhere.  There is an asterisk next to each board where we had the expected result and a plus sign for each of the other tables in the room with the expected result.

One thing you might notice as you’re reading are all the singletons.  Statistically, 44 of them would be expected over 36 boards; there were actually 54 in this set (about a 6% chance), of which 8 were kings (about .8%), including on the first three boards, making the Rabbi happy.

*+++++Board 1: normal +980, average, though opening leader gave me a fighting chance by leading the 9.

++++Board 2: opponents went for 3NT on the misfit.  It made, but not as much as .  71%.

Board 3: Our opponents stopped in 4.  After a spade to the jack, I foolishly continued the suit, costing us two matchpoints.  42%.  Interesting results were 3NT-2 and 3 making 4.

Board 4-6 NP

Board 7: Kriegel writes that East’s 1 “should” end the auction, but at our table and a couple others, South rebid 1NT, in all cases making exactly, 57% for us.  At one table, North got to declare a notrump and somehow took nine tricks.  Not quite a top, as one East went -300 in 2.

++Board 8: 1 (P) 2 (2!!) / P P 3 X / 4 (denying a heart stopper for some reason).  Kriegel notes the challenge of making 3NT, but in practice, all four pairs who were there made it.  Partner went off two for a bottom.

+Board 9: A normal auction, but our South found a path to nine tricks, a top for us.  A couple of Wests made the “sick” heart overcall, leading to -200 or worse.

Board 10-15: NP

+Board 16: We set 1NT for 64% when declarer unnecessarily pitched the fourth spade from dummy.  Every table had a different result on this one: 2 E -2, 1 N 1, 1NT N -1, 1NT N 1, 1NT N 2, 2 N -1, 2 N -2, and 2NT N -2.

Board 17: For some unknown reason, West overcalled 1NT.  We played in 2NT after a transfer and invite and went down too many for a bottom.

++Board 18: At some point in the defense, they didn’t want to cash a third club and set up declarer’s nine, so switched to hearts giving us ten tricks, a result matched by a couple of other tables for 86%.

++Board 19: Declarer chose not to establish hearts, but I was either squeezed or pseudo-squeezed (I don’t recall the exact order of play) into pitching a heart, so he took 11 tricks for an average.  It looks as though N-S do best to play in the spade Moysian, not mentioned by Kriegel, nor do I see a sensible way to get there.

Board 20: Our opponents found clubs, but stayed at the five level, giving us 36%; one pair did reach 6.  The only pair which played 3NT, the contract predicted by Kriegel, made only ten tricks.

*++Board 21: We had the normal result for only 29%, as half the tables were in 3NT (with four different results) and one failed to reach game.

+Board 22: Our opponents were fortunate to stop in 2, but lost control and ended up down three, giving us a top.  A couple of E-W pairs went for 1100 in spades.

++++Board 23: A normal auction at our table combined with generous opponents gave us +660 and a top.

++Board 24: Four E-W pairs were allowed to play spade partials.  At our table, the auction went as Kriegel predicts, but after a spade lead, West switched to a diamond to try to establish a fourth defensive trick, rather than cash his heart winners, one of which went away on the diamonds, giving us a bottom.  Kriegel also writes, “However, if South somehow becomes declarer (don’t ask us how)…” How about if North doubles to show a single-suited hand (e.g., Brozel) and South bids 2 (pass or correct)?

Board 25: Here South walked the dog, “sacrificing” in 4 after E-W had a constructive auction to 4.  With nothing left, we doubled and did not find the double-dummy defense for 7%.

*+++++Board 26:Not much to say here.  36% for the normal result, as some pairs got gifts.

*+Board 27.  We were one of two pairs to have the recommended auction (relieved to be on the same page with a new partner).  Alas, we got no gifts and only 21%.  We would have done much better if eight tricks were the limit of the hand, as several pairs reached 3.

So, we played sensibly over three boards and had 22% to show for it.

For boards 28-30, we sat at the table of the club’s best players, a three-time NABC champion and a player with an NABC second, who unfortunately forgot to read the part of the zero tolerance brochure about criticizing partner.

+Board 28: North, looking at the best Chinese Poker hand of the evening, upgraded to 1NT.  West judged well to step out with a 4 call over the Texas transfer and North judged equally well (notwithstanding her partner’s subsequent remark) to bid 5.  We set it easily with two clubs and a spade shift, but West, playing for an impossible layout, declined to cash the second spade, switching instead to a diamond.  This produced an interesting position.  After cashing the trump ace, declarer played a top diamond, pitching a spade, and continued with a third round.  If East discards, declarer can discard the last diamond and claim via the marked finesse.  In practice, of course I ruffed; now declarer can draw the last trump, return to hand with a trump, and finally pitch the last spade.  Drawing trump first would not have worked, as there is no way back to hand to take the pitch, and there is no way to draw trump ending in hand without the unnecessary risk of a first-round trump hook.  Going plus was enough for a 64% board.

+++Board 29: We had Oren’s recommended auction.  South led a club, which I won with the ace to play a diamond up.  South ducked and I crossruffed the minors, drew two rounds of trump, then played a spade up.  This time South decided “not through the Iron Duke,” compressing the defensive tricks in that suit and leaving me with eleven tricks and a tie for top.  North pointed out that once I’ve shown up with a stiff diamond, I’m very unlikely to also have a stiff spade.  And that of course I had a stiff diamond to play it at trick two (I disagree).  I replied that I’d be sure to lead away from my queen toward Kxxx the next time she was on my left.  Incidentally, the diamond duck doesn’t necessarily cost, as if South were to have risen, I could later pitch a spade loser on the king.  I *think* that a low spade on opening lead is the only legitimate way to hold declarer to nine tricks, though several tables had that result one way or another.

+Board 30: Oops—I forgot to upgrade, as did most of the Easts, and so played only 2NT.  After winning the A at trick one, I attacked hearts.  The question of finessing on the third round is difficult.  If I had had a clear path to eight tricks by going up, I would have done so, but in the end went with the odds.  North naturally pitched two clubs and so I probably should have gone right in the suit, but I finessed again.  After the opponents cashed their spades, North exited with a diamond, giving me the king and my contract.

South said that North should have exited with a club, not having counted out that North had none left.  Well in that case, North should have allowed South to win the last spade.  I commented that cashing the A (as recommended) would have made it less likely that the opponents could have a safe exit after running the spades, in addition to the obvious advantage of a stiff queen.  It also puts North under more pressure on the long hearts.

Several declarers made ten or eleven tricks.  There are several reasons to guess the clubs right—if North pitches, if you mess up your entries and can’t finesse, or if you decide to play safe for seven tricks.  I got 43%, the same score as I would have gotten for down one with better defense.

*++++Board 31: A couple of pairs overreached to slam, as expected, and one declarer took only ten tricks, so 71% for the normal result.

*+Board 32: Our opponents bid the sensible 3NT and I guessed well to lead a diamond.  86% for down two.

+++++++Board 33: Our uncontested auction was 1 1NT 3 3NT.  I agree with partner’s later comment, echoed by Kriegel, that 2 would have been better; my thought had been that we were more likely to have an eight-card fit in hearts than in spades, but it is at least as important to determine if NT is playable.  However, I don’t understand 3NT with a maximum fit for partner and two unstopped suits.  Fortunately, North led fourth from his longest and strongest and we got a top.

An undeserved 86% for the round.

Boards 34-36: NP

We had matched Kriegel’s results on 25% of the boards; the rest of the room had 31%.  Fortunately, we usually did better and ended up with fourth place our way.

Oren, if you’re reading this and you’d like to see how the other half lives, drop me a line the next time you’re in Boston and maybe we can play at the club.  I’d be happy to put up your entry fee.

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