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Rigged Coins
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In Monday morning, after a disastrous tournament, I was discussing the hands with my teammate while waiting for our ride to the airport. At one point he asked if we had any boards where we would think that we were really lucky. None came to my mind but there were lots of hands where we had lost a coin flip one way or another and practically none of the flips went to our way.

The following contains some bad beat stories (so be warned) but mostly there are hands where you need to make a decision and the right decision is the one, which would have worked at the table. Your opponents are representing their countries and mostly world class players.

You are sitting West and have to plan the auction while the tray is on the other side as in the critical point, you are not going to have time to think.

West
A543
10542
106
AJ5
W
N
E
S
1
P
3
4
P

Partner has shown a preemptive raise but has enough stuff to avoid 1100 territory against 9-11 BAL. You pass with your flat minimum and need to think what would you do if it comes back with a raise. Take your time...

... It comes back with a raise. Would you double or not?

West
A543
10542
106
AJ5
W
N
E
S
1
P
3
4
P
5
P
P

Some years ago this same declarer guessed my AJx in auction 3-6 where the heart suit was QT in dummy against declarer's K98xxxx. I'm sure  I didn't flinch during the auction and opening lead.

Now I probably should have doubled but didn't; my excuse was that I might give away the contract and in case it would go down, we would pick some IMPs anyway, because the auction at the other table would certainly be different. They went down 2 and we picked 7 IMPs, which could have been 12, if I were a man instead of a mouse.

The full hand:

West
A543
10542
106
AJ5
North
K1086
963
AQJ4
94
East
972
AKJ87
752
62
South
QJ
Q
K983
KQ10873
W
N
E
S
1
P
3
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

The first coin flip:

East
K109532
KJ6
KJ8
4
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2NT
P

Partner has shown 12-13; either notrumpy hand with 2 or 3 spades or short spades. Would you raise?

Partner decided to pass as we were not vulnerable and the game figures to be bad. Both 3NT and 4 were in the 20% range. However, everything worked and we lost 7 IMPs against 4.

West
J8
Q943
AQ4
QJ65
North
Q76
A52
109752
K2
East
K109532
KJ6
KJ8
4
South
A4
1087
63
A109873
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P
D
2NT West
NS: 0 EW: 0

How would you defend here:

West
North
AQ93
QJ
AJ4
AK106
East
J865
762
K86
J32
South
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
2
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
10
J
7
2
0
1
3
8
Q
A
1
1
1
Q
7
8
3
1
2
1
J
6
K
A
0
2
2
Q
A
8
2
1
3
2
J
6

Partner's opening shows 9-14 hcp (9-11 if balanced, like here). Partner leads the 3rd best 5 and declarer tries the ten, and you win the trick with the J. You return a club and partner alarm clocks with the Q warning about hearts. You surely could have figured the heart thingy out without any alarms, especially as the declarer starts the hearts, partner winning the 2nd round with the A. Your heart play showed 3 and preference to spades.

Despite your spade preference, partner shoots back the Q, declarer winning the A and countering with the J. What would you do now (plan the rest of the defense).

With all the information available, your only task is to prevent declarer from reaching his hand. So you need to duck the K, win the next diamond and then continue with a spade. If you get in with the J, you need to play another spade to lock declarer to dummy and let partner win the last club for down one.

West
K72
A543
Q3
Q954
North
AQ93
QJ
AJ4
AK106
East
J865
762
K86
J32
South
104
K1098
109752
87
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
2
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
10
J
7
2
0
1
3
8
Q
A
1
1
1
Q
7
8
3
1
2
1
J
6
K
A
0
2
2
Q
A
8
2
1
3
2
J
6
5
3
1
4
2
4
K
7
5
2
4
3
6
4
K
A
1
5
3
3
J
10
2
2
5
4
8
10

Flip another:

West
K86
1093
K108
AJ104
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P

Assuming you would prefer to be dummy in NT contract, would you pass, invite with 2NT or bid game with 3NT?

The powerful intermediates makes the hand better than the point count would suggest; however the flat shape diminishes the hand value. I evaluated that hand as an invite and bid only 2NT. Partner passed normalish minimum and we missed the great (vulnerable) Meckwell special. Only two pairs had bid 3NT; unfortunately one of them was sitting against my teammates.

West
K86
1093
K108
AJ104
North
72
Q4
J9743
Q872
East
Q95
KJ652
AQ2
63
South
AJ1043
A87
65
K95
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2NT
P
P
P
D
2NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Would you double here?

East
Q974
A10432
J753
W
N
E
S
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
P

Your partner has opened with Ekren 2 promising both majors at least 44 and at most 55 and reasonable values for his 3-8 range. Opponents seem to know what they are doing; would you double for a spade lead?

My partner judged to double knowing that in many cases the contract would go at least two down with spade ruff at trick one. However, this time the double lead to a disaster as a low spade was the only lead which let the contract make:

West
J10743
K10852
QJ8
North
K95
A6
6
AKQ8642
East
Q974
A10432
J753
South
AQ862
J3
K975
109
W
N
E
S
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
P
X
P
P
P
5X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

I decided to lead the 3 to show some values in addition to my known heart length and values. Without the double, I might lead a spade but in that case I would lead the J and partner should pitch on that instead of ruffing.

Some might call us lucky as our teammates were -500 in 6NTx and the losses got compressed; however many of us have made worse slams than 6/6/6NT.

What would you do here:

West
KJ6
KQ63
AKQJ103
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
4
P
P

Partner has promised 9-11 hcp and 4+ hearts. His typical hand is 9-11 balanced as we play "strong" 12-14 NT. He is very likely to hold only 4 hearts as we would open 1 on any hand (in range) with 4 hearts and no longer suit.

Your options are:

  • any number of clubs to end the auction
  • any number of hearts to end the auction
  • 4NT to suggest two places to play at the 5 level
  • 5NT to pick a slam and typically showing singleton spade
  • 5 to pick a slam with void

I deciided to take the middle-of-the-road action with 6. Typically partner would hold some stuff in the red suits and even facing KJxx Axxx Jxx xx I would have some play (middle-of-the-road because partner could hold AQ and A as sometimes the opponents have all the top spades).

West
KJ6
KQ63
AKQJ103
North
QJ73
85
9752
986
East
A862
AQ94
104
542
South
K10954
10732
AJ8
7
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
4
P
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

Note North's pretty aggressive 4!

Another club slam decision in the same match:

East
AKQ2
K82
AKJ1096
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
1
P
2
3
4
5
P

Your partner would have bid over 1 with any reasonable 5 count so you cannot expect much. Would you raise?

My partner raised to 6, which is more or less automatic IMO. However, this time the layout was such that there were only 11 tricks (3-0 trumps and 4-2 spades):

West
765
7
J9876
8753
North
J10
AQ65
K1043
Q42
East
AKQ2
K82
AKJ1096
South
9843
J10943
AQ52
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
1
P
2
3
4
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 East
NS: 0 EW: 0
J
1

Who has the Q in the next hand?

West
North
A643
KJ72
108
K32
East
South
K10
A84
AK73
10876
W
N
E
S
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
2
K
3
1
0
6
9
K
4
1
2
0
2
5
7
J
0
2
1
J
4
7
10
0
2
2
5
A
8
3
1
3
2
3
Q
8
A
0
3
3
2
8
Q
A
3
4
3
10
5
2
4
3
5
3
K
9
10
6
3
6
3
9

You have complete count and two ways to play: a) take the heart finesse b) cross to K and lead the last spade from dummy discarding a diamond to force East to lead from Qx to J7 on the dummy and your A8 in the hand.

The hearts are 3-3 so initially it is a coin flip. Are there any indications from the play?

My teammate had seen 5 facecards from West and only one from East so he decided that the last one would be on East and took the end play line. Once again, we lost that coin flip. The full hand:

West
QJ5
Q106
J952
AJ9
North
A643
KJ72
108
K32
East
9872
953
Q64
Q54
South
K10
A84
AK73
10876
W
N
E
S
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
2
K
3
1
0
6
9
K
4
1
2
0
2
5
7
J
0
2
1
J
4
7
10
0
2
2
5
A
8
3
1
3
2
3
Q
8
A
0
3
3
2
8
Q
A
3
4
3
10
5
2
4
3
5
3
K
9
10
6
3
6
3
4
6
K
4
1
7
3
6
9
7
J
2
7
4
9
8
Q
7
0
7
5
12

Our opponent finessed J at trick 2 and later played club up to the K to make when hearts were 3-3.

Conclusion: Bridge consists of random swings, which should balance. However, sometimes the variance takes you to the downswing and then you just have to suffer. Next time there might be upswing coming.

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