Join Bridge Winners
Trials and Errors
(Page of 19)

Our format for team trials is KO based; this year only two teams were contesting for the spot, so the format was 128 board KO. One of our pairs had some other commitments so it was going to be a tough weekend for our remaining two pairs. The 128 boards would be played in segments of 8 boards.

The following hands are from the match and feature actual play. Most of the hands are presented in a quiz format - some of the "right" plays might be wrong and some of the "wrong" plays might be right. It's all about what would have worked at the table.

I haven't rotated the boards, because rotating causes lots of mistakes and in an article this long there's going to be many even as is.

We start with board 5 and our NS opponents have a 2-way checkback accident for -300 instead of plus in a partscore. Nice start but then board 6 follows:

West
1098
982
862
J862
W
N
E
S
1NT
X
?

I picked up the collection above and see the tray pushed on my side with the auction above. Any ideas?

Your options are to run with Meckwell NT defense type escapes i.e. XX shows one minor or both majors and 2m shows the bid suit + another. You can also pass indicating a balanced hand of arbitrary strength giving partner the option to run to a potential 5 card suit. This isn't going to be cheap but how would you try to minimize the damage?

I passed and two more passes followed partner having 3=3=4=3; -1100 but that was the minimum; running to 2 would have been also -1100 but anything above that would have been more expensive. Luckily, there are still 126 boards to play.

Five boards later (board 3):

West
Q54
92
KQ976
1094
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
2
X
2
P
3NT
P
P
P

The opponents are playing 2/1 with Godzilla (a.k.a. Gazzilli) and as I had no idea who was going to be on lead, I decided to show my diamond values with a (very) risky lead directing double. My screenmate's revenge was to put me on lead.

What would you lead?

South seemed pretty confident of the strain as there were a whole level between 2 and 3NT indicating a good diamond stopper. My Q was unlikely to serve as an entry so it seemed pointless to start diamonds. Nobody had mentioned clubs and I had a reasonable sequence there so T it was. The full hand:

West
Q54
92
KQ976
1094
North
AK7
AQJ874
84
A6
East
983
K1063
10
KJ532
South
J1062
5
AJ532
Q87
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
2
X
2
P
3N
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Declarer could have made it double dummy but IRL went one down losing 3 clubs and 2 hearts.

The next segment brought a couple of play problems:

West
J2
7654
AK53
A42
East
AK1097
K32
842
K3
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P

South leads the Q and North contributes the J. Plan the play.

South is capable of leading the Q from AQT98. He is also capable of leading the singleton Q.

West
J2
7654
AK53
A42
North
AJ1098
J1096
J975
East
AK1097
K32
842
K3
South
Q86543
Q
Q7
Q1086
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

East has 9 easy tricks unless the hearts are 5-1. If the hearts are 5-1, who holds the length? My partner decided that South had the length and decided to guard against Qx on South. Banging down the A meant that the spades could not be brought in any more and when the diamonds were 4-2 there was only 8 tricks.

West
98
AKJ82
A832
75
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
3
?

1 opening promised 9-14 and with 12 good looking hcp and 5-4 distribution the hand is clearly on the top half of the range. Partner's raise can be pretty strong as he might have to watch you trying to make 2 with xxx Axxx QJx Qxx.

Would you just compete with 3 or make a general game try with 3 (the length in your hand being coincidental)?

I decided to make the game try and partner accepted.

West
98
AKJ82
A832
75
East
A65
Q753
KJ104
84
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
3
3
P
4
P
P
P

The defense starts with A, 4, 2(even), 5 and K, 8, Q(SP), 7. North continues with 7 (3rd) and you win the ace (encouraging 3 from South). J and A pull the opponents' trumps and the 9 fetches the J from North and 4 from South. North continues with the 2 to South's K and you ruff. How to play the diamonds?

The opponents didn't have to show the spade count but based on long experience against them, they are generally pretty honest without any hidden agenda. North is very likely 4=2=2=5 and South 4=2=3=4. It looks like the Q or the lack of it has no effect on the bidding.

Who has the Q?

West
98
AKJ82
A832
75
North
QJ72
109
Q5
AKJ103
East
A65
Q753
KJ104
84
South
K1043
64
976
Q962
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
3
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

I decided to finesse South for the Q (based on the length). Wrong!

A new segment and new problems.

West
73
863
A1065
AJ54
East
AK62
QJ75
9
KQ83
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

North leads the 8 (3rd/top). Plan the play.

West
73
863
A1065
AJ54
East
AK62
QJ75
9
KQ83
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

North led the 8 and with 7 top tricks I needed to establish two more. If hearts behave and the opponents do not cash too many tricks, there should be 9. However, it is very likely that the opponents will attack diamonds and having bagged a diamond trick, they can go back to spades.

The good news is that the defenders cannot see your cards and at some point they might play you for an extra queen, which you might have (as you are at the bottom range of your 9-11 NT).

I decided to win the first spade (South encouraging with the 4) and played the 3 from my hand making the signal clearly readable. A club to J collected 2 from South (reverse Smith) and T from North (also reverse Smith). I continued with the 6 to T, Q and K. South returned the inevitable 4 (3rd/5th). What now?

West
7
83
A1065
A54
East
K62
J75
9
KQ3
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

The diamond switch is logical but nasty. You cannot afford to lose 3 diamonds but you cannot stand the defense winning a diamond and switching back to spades (and then possibly back to diamonds).

The technical line is to win the A and hope for blockage. However, with North Smithing diamonds the blockage is very unlikely.

I decided to play low and North won the J to continue with a low diamond South's K and my ace. The rest was easy: up and with hearts 33 and North holding the A, the defense had only one diamond trick to come.

West
73
863
A1065
AJ54
North
J98
A109
QJ83
1092
East
AK62
QJ75
9
KQ83
South
Q1054
K42
K742
76
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT West
NS: 0 EW: 0

The last board of the segment was a bidding problem (at least for me).

West
J1097
Q3
K8
Q10765
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
P
?

Would you balance? Note that you are holding the maximum of your 0-8 range so partner is not expecting more.

I decided to X and got what I deserved :) Partner bid 2 with his just less than an overcall hand and managed to make 8 tricks against the makeable 1. Bidder's game!

Next segment and more problems.

West
A
Q
Q10976543
J102
W
N
E
S
1
3
4
P
P
P

What would you lead?

West
A
Q
Q10976543
J102
North
Q10842
J8
K
Q7543
East
73
K1097642
J
AK8
South
KJ965
A53
A82
96
W
N
E
S
1
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

The diamond lead is pretty natural and I decided to lead one. The declarer won the K, played a spade to K and my ace, ruffed the return high, drew partner's last trump and discarded the from dummy on the A. (West needs to lead a heart or East needs to switch to heart at trick two after a club lead to beat the contract as South has no quick entry to untangle the diamonds and take the discard.) Flat board but a chance missed.

West
Q1074
5
A98
KJ1075
South
KJ63
AQJ863
J5
2
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
2NT
P
4
P
P
P

Partner leads the 2 (3rd/5th) and 5 is played from the dummy. Plan the defense.

West
Q1074
5
A98
KJ1075
North
A852
K7
K43
Q643
East
9
10942
Q10762
A98
South
KJ63
AQJ863
J5
2
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
2NT
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

You can either beat the hand by pushing two club intermediate honors through creating a force to let you score your 4th trump or you can switch to the singleton heart and obtain a heart ruff. What you cannot do is to return a lazy diamond as I did. I was lucky as declarer won the K and banged down the A. My teammate, however, won the K and played a low spade and when the S9 appeared he picked West's trumps for one loser and kept trump control to make the hand.

You can work out the winning cases for diamond return; there are some but they are much more unlikely than the actual layout.

The next segment was pretty uneventful as we grinded it 27-2. The segment to follow was far from grinding (and we made a tactical error by switching directions).

North
KJ1076532
A2
10
A3
South
9
Q7
Q763
K109752
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
4
X
P
P
P

East starts with the A and West contributes the 2(even). East continues with the 6, T from dummy and 8 from West. What now?

North
KJ1076532
A2
10
A3
South
9
Q7
Q763
K109752
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
4
X
P
P
P

The club switch and the club spots clearly suggests that West holds the singleton club. You need to pick up the spades for one loser and you cannot lose a club ruff. You should win the club in dummy and lead the 9. When West follows with the 4, what should you do?

West
A84
109543
J842
8
North
KJ1076532
A2
10
A3
East
Q
KJ86
AK95
QJ64
South
9
Q7
Q763
K109752
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
4
X
P
P
P
D
4X North
NS: 0 EW: 0

The only chance to make the contract is to go up the K, because you are 100% certain to go down if East has the A. If East has the Q, you lose two trumps and a heart. If East has Ax in spades, West will ruff the club return with the Q.

North
K
Q87532
J975
A4
South
AQ6432
96
KJ1087
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Plan the play part will follow after your forced moves. East leads the A, you ruff in dummy and West follows with the 8. You play the 2 to K, ruff a diamond (East plays the 2(remaining even, if he's honest) and West contributes the Q). You pitch your two diamonds on AQ and both opponents follow (East has the J).

Plan the play now in the position below:

North
Q87532
A4
South
643
KJ1087
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You need to limit the trump losers to three (including a ruff by shorter hand). 

What do we know about the shapes and high cards?

If East has a singleton club, he surely holds AK of diamonds and most likely seven of them, because leading an unsupported ace is generally on lower priority than leading a singleton in partner's potential suit. Anyway, if East has a singleton club, he is going to score a club ruff - if he has JT bare or any three card heart holding, he cannot ruff profitably; assuming that East holds AK of diamonds, West needs AK of hearts for his opening so we can disregard singleton club and AJ/AT/KJ/KT bare (when A and a low heart from hand prevents a profitable ruff).

Based on the above, the correct play seems to be K first and then A to hand and then a heart from hand (If declarer enters hand with A without cashing the K, the defense can lock declarer to dummy with a club return after the first heart)

Both defenders follow to the clubs. You are in your hand and need to select the correct heart. Which heart is that?

North
Q87532
South
643
J108
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

The defense still holds AKJT4. If East has JT/AJ/AT/KJ/KT, any play works. If East holds J4 or T4, you need to play a low heart and later ruff the club switch with the Q. If East holds K4/A4, nothing works. If East holds singleton J or T, you need to play the Q and later use the power of your intermediates to force out A and J/T and finally beat the 4 with your 5. If East holds singleton A/K/4, nothing works.

West
1087
AKJ4
Q8
Q963
North
K
Q87532
J975
A4
East
J95
10
AK106432
52
South
AQ6432
96
KJ1087
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

This time Q would have been the correct play.

South
8652
108
1087
K763
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
2
X
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

X was explained as  penalties promising four card spade suit. What would you lead?

West
3
AJ53
KJ653
J54
North
KJ1097
962
Q2
AQ10
East
AQ4
KQ74
A94
982
South
8652
108
1087
K763
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
2
X
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

The auction suggested that West was something like 0=4=6=3 or 0=4=5=0 and East was loaded in spades making the spade lead completely pointless. I decided to lead a club and partner won the first three club tricks with T, A and Q. Later the declarer misguessed diamonds for one down.

At the other side the X was explained as hearts. This time the misinformation on my side of the screen hurt the opponents more than me.

We lost the segment 15-29 and went back to our initial seating (The CoC gives the token on alternate segments and states no restrictions to seating.)

West
QJ6
Q102
KQ73
642
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2NT
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
P
P

What would you lead?

West
QJ6
Q102
KQ73
642
North
9
3
J852
AQ109875
East
52
K96
A10964
KJ3
South
AK108743
AJ8754
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
1N
P
2N
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Against two-suiters the trump lead is typically effective. However, based on South's strong bidding, he has the tops of his majors and probably can take the heart ruff even with the trump lead in case dummy has two trumps. I was worried that he might be able to discard a diamond on a club and decided to attack that suit with the plan to switch to trumps after we have taken our minor suit trick(s).

If I had planned to go to the five level, I would have bid the South hand differently i.e. 5 directly on the 3 relay indicating interest only in major suit goodies. IMO, South's sequence showed also interest in minor suit aces. OTOH, South had displayed tendencies to plan only for the present and the raise to 5 might have been decided only after the 4 bid. I'm too biased to estimate if I was idiotic or not.

The board above was from segment 8; at the half time, we were leading by 35.

Three segments later, I was facing a simple play problem:

West
AQJ9865
Q7
QJ87
East
432
85
Q1097
AK54
W
N
E
S
4
P
P
P

North leads the T (of course), you win with the A and South follows with the 6. You continue with a low spade from dummy, 7 from South and you?

West
AQJ9865
Q7
QJ87
North
AJ642
J862
10932
East
432
85
Q1097
AK54
South
K107
K1093
AK543
6
W
N
E
S
4
P
P
P
D
4 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

Of course, I went up with the A (which guarantees the contract if spades are 2-1). When I continued with the Q, South won the K and carefully cashed the K and continued with low to the A to receive the club ruff for down one. Luckily, this defense and play was duplicated at the other table.

A new segment and a new problem.

West
A1092
KQ9
832
A97
W
N
E
S
1
2
?

Your options are negative X showing 10+ with 4 spades or 2NT showing about 14 equivalent balanced with stopper(s) (2NT is invitational against 9-11 so partner would bid game or force to game with any 11+) and might bid game with good 10.

X or 2NT?

I decided to bid 2NT for two reasons: 1) this hands look like 14 hcp NT 2) if partner bids 3m to X, I would have no idea what to do as his range would be somewhere between 9 and 12.

Partner raised to 3NT and North started with the 2 (3rd).

West
A1092
KQ9
832
A97
East
8764
7
AKQ7
Q1065
W
N
E
S
1
2
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

South plays the T and you win with the K. Plan the play.

West
A1092
KQ9
832
A97
North
KQJ5
532
654
J43
East
8764
7
AKQ7
Q1065
South
3
AJ10864
J109
K82
W
N
E
S
1
2
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT West
NS: 0 EW: 0

The defense will probably give you a 2nd heart trick (and set up the hearts with communications at the same time) so it's all about guessing the minors. In diamonds there might be a guess; in clubs there is surely a guess. I could have started the clubs from the dummy (and that probably would have been the technical play) but I decided to bang down the A and then I ran the 9 (not covered). This time it worked. After the K, South continued with a low heart and I won the Q. I continued with a club up and cashed the last club. South dropped the 9 and J on the top diamonds as I unblocked the 8. North discarded the 5 on the last club and I played a to the A North playing the J. When I played the low diamond towards Q7, I stated to my partner that in pairs this would be easy but in teams play the Q. I was really shocked when the T came down and I made the overtrick.

We are now in segment 13 (boards 97-104)

West
AJ10754
A107
10653
East
Q93
J983
Q106
AK7
W
N
E
S
1
X
3
4
P
P
P

North leads the A and partner tables his hand a bit reluctantly. What's the general plan?

West
AJ10754
A107
10653
East
Q93
J983
Q106
AK7
W
N
E
S
1
X
3
4
P
P
P

If the spade finesse works, the rest should be manageable. The A can be from AK so South might have the K. So I ruffed, entered dummy with the A and ran the 9, unfortunately, to North's K. 3 comes back and South will cover cheaply whichever you play from dummy. What now?

West
AJ10754
A107
10653
East
Q93
J983
Q106
AK7
W
N
E
S
1
X
3
4
P
P
P

Even though South holds KJ of diamonds, he still might hold one of the honors and double finesse in hearts will give good chances to make. The proper continuation would probably be to the K and finesse. Ruff the diamond return and give away a club. Ruff the club with Q and take another heart finesse.

I continued with a club to dummy and North played the J. Instead of taking the finesse, I continued with a club (with the intent to use a low club ruff and Q as the entries for the finesse. The clubs were, however, 3-3 and North won the Q to continue with a diamond to the following position:

West
AJ
A107
6
East
Q3
J983
W
N
E
S
1
X
3
4
P
P
P

I continued with the J to the Q and North showed out. A heart to T endplayed North with just enough entries and trumps for the endplay to be effective. The easy way would also have been the winner as the full hand was:

West
AJ10754
A107
10653
North
K
K52
A98743
QJ8
East
Q93
J983
Q106
AK7
South
862
Q64
KJ52
942
W
N
E
S
1
X
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

At the other table my teammate lead the Q (most likely denying the possession of AK of diamonds) and the declarer dropped the K and took an easy overtrick with the double finesse in hearts.

After 112 boards the opponents were down 154 IMPs and decided to play one more set and the let everybody travel back home. The most interesting board of the segment was the one where my partner took a 6 sac and when tabling his hand stated that he had to do it, because we need to bid at least one slam during the weekend. I felt that sting as I had lazily bid 4 on one competitive board where we had a reasonable 6. On no other board were there a good slam for us. We lost an IMP on the sac when it went for -1400 against their 1370.

Post mortem:

Everybody makes mistakes in a long KO match. Live with it.

Bid your vulnerable games and then make them.

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