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Segment from Hell
(Page of 8)

After a disaster set in the national teams championships semifinals (qualification round robin), I planned to write the article with this title. At that time, I didn't imagine that I would have an even worse set in the finals against the same team. This is the sequel to http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/segment-from-hell-the-prelude/

With 11 IMP lead after the first 10 board segment we sat first for the 2nd segment. My screenmate appeared and he was the same guy as in our disasterous set in the semi finals. This time he was playing with his regular partner.

The first board gave me a bidding problem:

South
Q9863
9874
J32
A
W
N
E
S
P
2NT
X
4
?

LHO's 2NT promised either majors or minors at least 55 and 7-11 hcp. Partner had to select his call from the following menu:

  • 3 any = natural overcall
  • 4 = both minors at least 55
  • 4 = both majors at least 55
  • 4M = strong one suiter, declares that it's our hand
  • X = the remaining hands with about 15+ hcp (note that I'm limited to 8)

RHO's 4 was pass or correct promising a place to play also if facing both majors.   In retrospect, I could have simplified the situation by opening 2 Ekren (3-8, majors 44/45/54/55) but my offense defense ratio is exactly the right one for a disaster. Now my options were a card showing X or a committal 4.

  What would you do?  

The full hand:

West
K
102
A10987
J10975
North
AJ54
AQ5
6
KQ432
East
1072
KJ63
KQ54
86
South
Q9863
9874
J32
A
W
N
E
S
P
2NT
X
4
X
P
P
P
D
4X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

I decided to double and partner passed. I didn't want to bid 4 for the following reasons a) East has promised a four card major (or good fillers in both majors) and his stuff is behind partner's cards b) I had no guarantee of 3 card spade support.

I won some Sklansky IMPs as 4 is not so great (move the K to RHO and think about the play on T lead indicated by the P/C 4). In real life declarer gave us a present and went 3 down and we lost only 3 IMPs against the making 4 at the other table.

The next hand was a pretty easy constructive bidding problem followed by a pretty easy play problem:

South
K8
A4
AK108
AQ1064
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
4
P
4
P
?

Partner's bidding shows about 9-11 4=4=1=4 or 3=5=1=4 with slam suitability. You can deduct that by your cards; systemwise partner has shown 4+ hearts, 4+ clubs, a spade stopper and a diamond control (A/K/singl/void) and 9-11 range.

What now?

North
A974
KQ105
5
8753
South
K8
A4
AK108
AQ1064
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
4
P
4
P
6
P
P
P

If partner had a real piece of junk, he should have bid either 5 or regressive 4NT depending on the type of his junk. Because 4 promised some slam suitability, I decided to jump to 6 to give the defenders as little information as possible. (I was willingly giving up a reasonable grand facing a prime 10 count of Axxx Kxxx x Kxxx as my estimate was that the other table would miss six after a likely 2NT opening. Partner would have splintered with a prime 11 hcp).

6 looks like a good slam. West starts with 5. Plan the play.

This one was pretty easy IMO. Win K, cash the A, then the A, ruff a diamond and lead a club up executing the standard safety play in clubs. LHO follows low on the A but RHO discards a diamond. LHO is 2-5-2-4 and makes three trump tricks.

As I had guessed, the other table played 3NT and we lost 11 IMPs.

On the next hand we missed a reasonable (little bit over 50%) nonvulnerable 4 and played 3 (we had two 8 card fits). LHO holds all the clubs and the 5-0 split dooms both 4 and 3. We lost 3IMPs for 3 -2 against 4 -1 at the other table.

The next hand brought another 5-0 trump split:

West
K8652
9732
J
A54
North
AQ94
AK
AQ843
108
East
J10654
106
QJ7632
South
J1073
Q8
K9752
K9
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Partner initiated a slam try but with my absolute minimum junk I had to decline. East started with Q, ducked by everyone (East was not the guy to underlead even in this auction) and continues with a low club to West's ace. Back comes a low heart.

At this point there are two realistic options: a) entering dummy with a diamond and taking the spade finesse b) cashing the A and follow with a spade.

Line a) wins against Kxxx(x) in West's hand but risks defeat if West has a singleton diamond and East the K. Line b) wins against all 3-2 breaks but risks going down on any bad trump break.

Partner followed the Bramley rule (don't go down with a "safety play" when trumps are 3-2) to see for the third time in a row my LHO holding all the trumps. There was no way to make this after the A. At the other table our teammates bougth the contract with 4X and somehow managed to go down; 5 IMPs away.

Another bidding problem for us followed:

North
A7
Q86432
4
AK65
W
N
E
S
P
1
2
3
P
4
P
?

Would you move on?

North
A7
Q86432
4
AK65
South
K985
K1075
AJ8
73
W
N
E
S
P
1
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

Partner's options on the first round were 3 or a heavy splinter. Even with my prime hand I didn't want to cooperate due to my bad K and length in spades. I considered natural 3NT but I had the small doubleton club as a ruffing value and both contracts were in my hand to protect the K.

In another context 6 would have been fine. Here I got a spade lead and West was forced to grab his singleton A and he had no problem delivering the ruff. Surprisingly we won 6IMPs against 230 at the other table.

Next a bidding problem for lots of IMPs:

North
AJ108653
Q8
J1052
W
N
E
S
1
?

Both 2 and 3 are preemptive overcalls. What would you do?

West
42
AJ104
K8
K10942
North
AJ108653
Q8
J1052
East
Q7
63
A7643
QJ87
South
K9
K9752
Q9
A653
W
N
E
S
1
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

We play sound vulnerable preempts facing a non-passed partner. The hand has 7 losers but about 6.5 playing tricks. The proper value bid seems to be about 2.5 spades so you can either underbid or overbid. This time partner decided to underbid, probably due to the lack of 9 and/or 9.

On my turn I just counted the assumed trumps (16 or 17) and decided that I have more defense than offense and was hoping that either or both 3 level contracts would go down. Whatever the reasons, I completely misjudged and we missed a making vulnerable game and could not defeat 3 for the loss of  12 IMPs. An initial 3 instead of 2 would have given me an easy raise to game.

Next board dealt me a monster:

South
3
AKQJ3
A
KQJ1096
W
N
E
S
1
?

What is your bidding plan?

South
3
AKQJ3
A
KQJ1096
W
N
E
S
1
?

My plan was to bid 2NT and then after partner's preference to ask for aces. It was not to be.

South
3
AKQJ3
A
KQJ1096
W
N
E
S
1
2NT
3
P
3
?

Now it looks like partner doesn't have much. The spade bid has made me vulnerable to forcing game (on a diamond lead I can make 4 hearts if neither opponent holds more than 4 hearts) so I cannot gamble 4 any more. However, 5 looks pretty solid from my hand so I decided to bid it. LHO counters with 5 passed to me:

South
3
AKQJ3
A
KQJ1096
W
N
E
S
1
2NT
3
P
3
5
5
P
P
?

What now?

West
J1095
54
J752
A72
North
Q8742
1062
63
732
East
AK6
987
KQ10984
4
South
3
AKQJ3
A
KQJ1096
W
N
E
S
 
1
2N
3
P
3
5
5
P
P
5
5
X
6
X
P
P
P
D
6X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

I decided to compete with 5 (which was beatable by a black lead) but the opponents bid more. The declarer lost the obvious three red tricks and finessed the spades to go -300. At the other table our teammates won the hand with 5 (no double) and we earned 6 IMPs.

On the next board we could have saved -300 against a vulnerable game but we had some hopes of beating the game. At the other table the opponents managed to take the save undoubled so we lost 11 IMPs.

Next a bad beat or, alternatively, a bad bidding story:

North
K86
103
A7
KJ7654
South
AQJ10
J86
Q94
A92
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

The defense started with 4 to the Q and back came the 5 (consistent with A942 vs KQ75). My mental computer was planning how to play clubs, when West played the A and East discarded. During the next heart trick I managed to count that I don't have a club guess any more; at least some silver lining.

At the other table East had overcalled in diamonds and West lead a diamond against 3NT. The declarer won the A, played the clubs from the top and made 11 tricks and we lost 13 IMPs.

Even though 4 is the spot to be, I cannot see any means to reach that with our methods. The 1NT opening is forced by the system and our 4 suit transfer structure does not cover North's hand unless he wants to lie (1NT-2-2NT(superaccept)-3=short). Next time the hearts are 44, the Q is doubleton in West's hand and spades are 6-0; have fun, all you great bidders!

Finally the last board of the torment arrived and still no rest for the wicked:

South
A42
KQJ109842
A5
W
N
E
S
2
P
2NT
5
P
P
5
?

West's opening shows 7-11 hcp and at least 55 rounded  () or pointed () suits. East has shown at least invitational strength and has asked for clarification. West would have doubled with diamonds.

What now?

West
Q10942
A6
K109872
North
K1065
J765
7
Q643
East
QJ9873
AK83
53
J
South
A42
KQJ109842
A5
W
N
E
S
2
P
2NT
5
P
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

I was pretty solidly in the middle of my range without any extra offence nor extra defense so I decided to pass. Partner's hand suggested more defending a heart contract than being dummy in a diamond contract so we sold out.

The bad news was that 5 was unbeatable, both in theory and in practice. At the other table teammates failed to take the push and failed to lead a club so 5 made for a double game swing to end this set; 13 IMPs out.

I planned to do some kind of aftermath but I would be too biased. Some of the bad things were something that just happen in bridge. Some were slaps by the great shuffler. Some were bad judgment. 

Next time I'll just sit out against these guys.

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