Monday, April 26, 2010

Last weekend in bridge

This past weekend was a good one in bridge for me. I averaged .7imps/board in 135 imps hands and 56% in 48 matchpoint hands, 38 online with Sean, 24 with Sean at the Atlanta club Sunday night, 35 online with Giorgia, 20 online with randoms, and the rest online with Gideon. It wasn’t too long ago that I would get sad when I spent a Friday night eating out alone and then sitting at my computer the rest of the night. In January, I started enjoying it but regularly got quite frustrated with various things.


Last night, Sean and I had an interesting session – I thought we would be well into the 60’s but only were 56%. There were 3 “beer” opportunities, and I apparently botched all 3 of them. I will write about them in the next couple of days when I get some free time, which looks like it might be hard to find this week. Actually, one of the beer hands was in the hand I posted earlier today. Near the end of the hand, declarer played a diamond to her K and my A, and instead of cashing spades and then leading a diamond to Sean’s Q and 7, I led a diamond back so he had to let me win a spade at trick 13.

Passive Defense and Squeezing Declarer

One of the best guidelines for defense is that when the auction indicates partner has virtually no high cards, make a passive lead and just wait on your tricks to come. Another good guideline to follow as opening leader is that when dummy (or declarer) has a long suit that is likely to run, make an aggressive lead. Try looking at only the auction and the west hand to start with today. I totally do not condone this bidding but it is what happened at the table and I found myself on opening lead.
Dealer: E
Vul: EW
West East
AK84 JT76
Q96 J8
A85 QJ76
JT5 973

West North East South
Pass 1
Pass 1 Pass 1NT
Pass 2 Pass Pass
2 Pass Pass 2NT
Pass Pass Pass
A heart lead is definitely out, a spade lead could work out but this really doesn't seem like the hand to try to set up spades - declarer likely has 4 to at least the Q. A club lead is unlikely to give up a trick, and a diamond lead could work out well but could be disastrous if partner doesn't have 2 honors. By the first guideline, you should lead a club, refusing to give declarer a spade trick and just making sure you don't give up any natural tricks. By the second guideline, you should lead a diamond, the most aggressive lead. Your Qxx of hearts looks bad for the defense as it is likely dummy's hearts will run, or that they will all set up with only 1 loser, so finding partner with 4 or 5 diamonds to the QJ (or QT with the J in dummy) might make that a good lead.

On this hand, the diamond lead works great, after winning the K, all declarer can do is cash his 7 tricks, for when the defense gets in, it's wide open for them to take 4 spades and 3 diamonds. However, switch the J and 8 of diamonds and it's a very different story. The diamond lead is disastrous because it not only gives declarer a diamond trick he couldn't get on his own, but it also doesn't set up anything for the defense. East still cannot get on lead to lead a spade through declarer, and declarer can cruise to 9 tricks (4 hearts, 4 clubs, and a diamond).

Back to the original deal - let's take a look at the ending after a club lead. Declarer wins the first club on the board and then attempts to duck a heart into west (but that's not possible because east's 8 pops up on the first round, so he plays A, K and another heart. West then continues the passive defense by leading another club, taken with the ace. Upon cashing the last round card in dummy, declarer squeezes himself, but there really isn't anything he could do to avoid it - playing like this up to this point was necessary to prevent east from leading through his pointed honors. Here is the lie of the cards with the 13th club left to cash.

West East
A8 QJ7
The bidding makes it clear that south's distribution is 4-3-3-3, so west should have no problem figuring out what to pitch behind declarer. Interestingly, what east pitches doesn't matter as long as he hold QJ of diamonds. Declarer must unguard either his diamond or his spade and west pitches the opposite suit. So either west's 8 will be good to win trick 13 when the Q falls under the AK or east's diamond Q will take trick 13 after declarer's now-stiff K falls under the A.

The result is making 2 for 120, but that still should be a good matchpoint score for EW because NS rate to make 3H for 140.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

1m-1M-2M on 3 card Support?

I'm spending the day in Atlanta and enjoying a GT baseball game and thinking about some bidding sequences that have caused some problems in the last couple of days.

How do you feel about rebidding NT with a singleton (even in partner's suit) or raising a major suit response or opening 1D with 4 diamonds and 5 clubs playing a standard system? I actually feel pretty strongly about not rebidding 1NT with a singleton. After 1m-1M-1NT, I like responder to be able to comptete to 2M with a 5 card suit, knowing opener has 2 or 3. And rebidding NT is really just a NT opening that doesn't fit in with you other NT opening ranges so the distribution rules should still apply.

Therefore, 1-3-4-5 hands cause a problem. Whether to open 1D or 1C depends on whether the diamonds are good. With good diamonds, I strongly favor opening 1D. You can get both suits in (albeit with possible distortion of minor suit length, but it normally isn't a problem) if partner responds 1S and raise 1H to 2H especially in matchpoints. This also means responder needs a way to find out about whether opener has 3 or 4 card support. I recommend 2NT as some sort of ask about support and min/max.

The deal that started this disagreement is below:


Giorgia and I had the auction 1D-1H-2H-4H-P, clearly a very bad contract. But switch her major suits around and she would surely bid the same way and it would be a great moysian game. Neither of us were really wrong - more like a philosophical difference that a regular partnership should have some agreement about. And we are not a regular partnership. Yet.

Off to Chipotle again and then bridge at the Atl club with Sean.
Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Attitude or Count Disagreements?

I've been finding a lot of situations lately where there are disagreements on which kind of signal to give. I suppose I've been looking for things like this more because I have been making a more conscious effort to be a better defender. Playing with some new people lately has also been more conducive to carding disagreements.

People generally say attitude is their primary signal. When in doubt, giving attitude is a good rule to follow. But in some cases one person is in doubt and the other thinks it's a clear count situation or something like that. That's part of what is so hard about defense - being on the same page as far as what signals you give on certain situations.

To say you'll always give attitude to partner's leads and always give count when the opponent leads the suit means you'll never have a misunderstanding about what signal is given but sometimes those aren't the signals you need. A good player/partnership will be able to recognize most of the times when the exception to the rule occur.
Dealer: N
Vul: NS
In the latest situation, you're defending 4♠. Partner wins your lead with the K and at trick 2 shifts to the K in a side suit, declarer playing the ace. Is this a count, attitude, or suit preference situation? In a small informal poll of my peers, a slight majority gave count while most of the others gave attitude. I think I was able to convince most of the people that attitude is the correct signal here, but I can understand people wanting to give count because it seems that the location of all the club honors is known already. If partner has led from the ♣KQ, he's getting 1 club trick eventually and there doesn't seem to be a rush to take it. In fact, he won't cash it regardless of what the count in clubs is because he'll want to get you in to capture dummy's J. So, partner doesn't care about the count in clubs. Partner also doesn't need a suit preference signal. He will know to lead diamonds next if you have nothing in clubs. It seems that no signal can really be of use to partner... unless he has led from ♣Kx, in which case he needs to know whether you have the ♣Q so that when he wins his trump trick, he will know whether to lead a club to your Q and get a ruff or to lead diamonds, where you must have an honor or two by process of elimination.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Hesitation Problems

You hold: void, KQ8542, J3, AT972. None vul, you open 1H. The auction continues 1S-2H-2S; 4H-4S-X-P to you? I think so. It's close but it sounds like 4S will be making. I have less defense than partner is expecting (only 10hcp, extra heart and club length) so unless partner has a really good trump stack, which also seems unlikely, 4S will be making. I mean, he only raised to 2H so he couldn't have too much. Double by partner should be based on spade honors and a clear interest in defending because with a typical hand with nothing in spades, he could pass and it would be forcing. We've bid game, presumably to make so we aren't going to let the opponents play 4S undoubled.

If partner takes 25 seconds to double, does that change things? Yeah, sure. It makes bidding on look more attractive. The slow double in this case clearly indicated that partner is unsure of the double, probably based on something like 4 spades to the QT instead of 4 to the KQT which would be an easy double. No director was called on the hesitation and my opponents at the time would probably have been clueless as to the many inferences and unauthorized information I could have obtained from partner's hesitation. And I did not bid 5H even though I knew well that it must be the winning call in this case. Partner's hand: JT9x, AJxx, Txx, QJ Result: 4SX made while at the other table 5H was set 1 trick.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kickback in Gatlinburg

Amidst the breaks in rehearsal for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and to keep me awake, let me tell you about my most fun hand from the Gatlinburg tournament.

I was playing with MiniMeck with Barbara Heller as my LHO and white  vs. red, I picked up: T, Txxx, AJTx, AJxx. It's 2H-X to me. Obviously, I bid 4S, which is by agreement RKC Blackwood for hearts. Barbara doubles, Matt redoubles, showing 0 or 3 keycards, pass and I bid 5H. Hey, 6H could make opposite this if Matt happens to have AK and a minor suit K and a minor suit singleton, which is barely possible. Anyway Barbara opted for 6C with her Axxxx, A, x, QT9xxx, which was off 2.

Gatlinburg was, as it usually is for me, short and sweet. I'm sure I had some article-worthy hands from the KO and BAM Saturday, on another day. MiniMeck, Arjun, and Ricoh managed a satisfying 8th in A/X in the Sunday Swiss.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rule of 15

Are you a follower of the rule of 15, which says that if it's 3 passes to you, you should only open the bidding if your high card points plus spade length is 15 or more? It's typically a very good rule, and it is based on the idea that when the points are balanced, the side with a spade fit is more likely to go plus on the board, because they can get the contract at the two-level while you would have to go to the 3 level in some other suit. Anyway, Tuesday night at the local club I picked up: K, 9xx, AJxx, KQxxx. both vul, it's 3 passes to me, and without a second thought, I pass it out. Partner happened to have a 9 point hand with Qxxxxx of spades and everyone else in the room was in 2S or 3S going down 2 or 3.

Here is another example of the my bidding judgment that is perhaps against the field, but not at all related to the rule of 15. This hand is from 2 weeks ago. I held: xxx, KJ, AKQ, AKJxx. In second position, unfavorable vulnerability, I opened the hand 1C. The auction progressed without interference: 1H-2D-3C-3D-3S-4C-4H-6C-P. 3C was game-forcing with 4 card club support. 3D and 3S were cue bids, 4C was key card blackwood for clubs. Over 4H, I should have bid 4S to inquire about the Q of trumps and possibly any kings. I would have gotten a 5S response, showing the CQ and SK and denying either red king. Then I could have bid the better scoring matchpoint contract of 6NT opposite: AKx, QT9xx, x, Qxxx.

I know a lot of you would open 2NT or 2C with my hand but game chances are very unlikely if partner can't muster up some response to 1C, and 1C will surely get us to a better partscore than either of the strong openings. Yes, I distorted my shape a little bit with the reverse into a 3 card suit, but I think that isn't such a big deal. It seems like a better lie than opening 2NT without a spade stopper and barely 1 heart stopper. In retrospect, though it is not too unlikely that partner has 4 diamonds and a stiff club and we may wind up in a 6D contract that is, for example, ona 3-3 break.. Put a small spade in with the diamonds and this is definitely the correct way to bid the hand using fairly standard methods. Put a diamond honor in the spade suit and this is sure a 2NT opener also.

What Signal Are You Expecting?

Defensive signaling quiz today.

You hold: 9, AKQ63, 8, T98764. At imps, the bidding has gone, starting with you: 1H-1S-4H-5D; all pass. You lead the ace and dummy hits with: KQJ76, J7, 94, KQJ5...

What signal do you expect from partner at trick 1? If you continue with another heart at trick 2, what signal do you expect from partner then?
attitude; count
attitude; suit preference
count; suit preference
suit preference; more suit preference
lowest card in suit
what's a signal? free polls
These polls aren't working too well. The html code I was given to paste doesn't have ana ctual vote button, and I don't think people want to be that interactive with this thing anyway.

If partner has 5 hearts, you need suit preference at trick 1, and it partner has only 4 hearts, you need count so that you know you can cash another heart. Yes, most partnerships play that at the 5 level, the K lead from AK asks for count, for just this situation, and an A lead is usually an unsupported A, and asks for attitude. Leading an unsupported A is more common and more frequently the correct play at a high level contract. So, the correct answer is that you should lead the K, partner should signal count, and then when you cash the second heart, partner gives a suit preference signal.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why Did Partner Played the Spots that He Did In that Order

Today’s hand has the simplest auction one could have short of a pass out but it presents a few crucial defensive signaling situations that can be quite nebulous. I was west in this deal last night at the local club and at first I blamed allowing them to make 5 on a system failure. My partner and I were playing upside-down count and attitude and odd/even discards. I have modified the deal very slightly so as to not allow declarer a chance to make more than 2 on best defense but this deal just as well illustrates the defensive points I want to make. In retrospect, my partner should have figured out the situation.

As you can see, NS should make 4 clubs without any trouble: 6 , 1 spade, 2 via 2 finesses, and 1 ruff (or possibly 1 and 2 ruffs). In notrump, there are 8 tricks once the defense plays 3 rounds of hearts. West leads 4th best , east wins the K and continues with the 3, top from a remaining doubleton. South splits the honors, west wins and leads the 9 back to declarer’s Q.

Put yourself in east’s position now. Clearly you are not defeating 1NT but it’s matchpoints so minimizing the overtricks could be very important, especially since many people will be in clubs. You can make several valid assumptions from the defense so far. Partner started with 5 hearts and must have the 8 as well. If he did not have the 8, he would duck trick 2 and wait for you to regain the lead and lead through declarer’s Q8 into his A9x. Another assumption you can reasonably make is that partner has a sure entry, for if he didn’t, even with this heart holding, he would duck trick 2 so you would have another heart to lead when you get in. Now that we have that figured out, what is partner’s sure entry? He could have led back the 8 or the 9 at trick 3, so the 9 must suggest a spade entry.

Okay, so how do we discard on the run of the clubs? Dummy has pitched a diamond and a spade on the hearts so far. We can safely dump a diamond, but then we see partner discard the 9. Playing odd/even, this should be encouraging for diamonds. Do we believe this signal or the signal on the 3rd round of hearts? What do we pitch on the next club? We can probably safely let go of one spade and maybe partner’s and declarer’s next discard will clear things up. Sure enough, declarer dumps a low spade and partner the 5. What is partner trying to signal? Do you think the supposed suit preference at trick 3 was really a signal or was partner merely playing top from a sequence? The bidding marks declarer with only 5-7 points in the pointed suits, meaning partner must have one of the aces.

I think this hand might convince me to give up odd/even discards. It’s totally not consistent with upside-down count and attitude, so it’s one signal stuck in the middle of a hand that doesn’t really flow with the rest of one’s signals, not to mention not being able to find an appropriate card sometimes. At least if you’re playing upside-down attitude discards, you could discard the 8 and then the 10 and that would clarify that the 8 was low. Lavinthal is a discard method I kind of like as well. There’s no possible confusion, except maybe in the suit preference part of it. At least in a case like this, whichever diamond west discards first tells partner he has the spade ace. In odd/even, does discarding an odd card in a suit followed by another odd card in the same suit cancel the first odd discard in an attempt to say, “sorry, partner, I didn’t have an even card to discard so maybe 2 odds make an even.” Would it make more sense to discard the 8 and 10 first in an attempt to say “Sorry, partner, I don’t have an even spade, but maybe 2 evens will make an odd.” No, 8 + 10 = 18, which is still even, but 9 + 5 = 14, which is even.

Discarding the Q first might get the message across that west doesn’t have the ace, but that gives declarer the option of a finesse for a 9th trick. Yet another way to think about the hand is that west will not mind blanking his ace, whichever suit it is, but might need to keep several cards in the other suit (his Jxx or Qxx might prevent a 3rd or 4th overtrick), so the suit he discards first should be the suit he has the ace in. This line of thinking is a bit far-fetched to me, but it’s a possibility.

Anyway, at the table, my partner believed my diamond discards more than the heart signal so he ditched all of his diamonds on the clubs expecting me to have the A or even AQ of diamonds and declarer wound up taking 4 diamond tricks. He came down to Q95 and K while I had A, 84, Q and declarer still had AJT5. Making 5 for -210 and zero matchpoints. There’s so much to potentially think about on defense and it’s good if you and your partner think along the same lines and know what signal to expect from each other.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2♣ Opening in Canapé Systems

So, about a week ago I bought Ken Rexford's book on his Modified Italian Canapé System. If you know me at all as a bridge player, you are well aware of my interest in canapé bidding systems for a number of reasons, mainly that is fun and while it is actually a very natural system, it still confuses the opponents by frequently concealing your best suit for the first round of bidding. So, I spent a good bit of time thinking about how to improve my system, which I use with Sean and Ramesh but am interested in teaching it to and playing it with anyone else who is interested. There are definitely a few kinks that I have yet to work out but lately I've had more and more success with it. Anyway, if you are interested in a good book on the theory of canapé, check out this book.

There are some things I dislike about Rexford's system, mainly the fact that the 1 opening could be on a void. In my canapé system, the 1, 1, 1♠, and now 2♣ openings are the same: either one-suited in that suit or 4 in that suit with a longer side suit. hands with 5M and 4♣ are awkard to bid after opening 1M because of the difficulty of accurately showing the second suit (having to treat it like a one-suiter or a balanced hand), so I finally gave in to testing the effectiveness of 2♣ being a possible canapé hand instead of just single-suited with clubs, and the problems seemed to be relatively few.

The structure Sean and I came up with yesterday for how to bid over 2♣ as 11-16 hcp with either a canapé hand with a 5+ card major or single-suited with clubs is as follows:
2: artificial 1 rd force, may be any strength; if game-forcing, no 5 card major
     2M: 5 card suit
          raise: invitational
          cheapest bid in other major: mixed raise
     2N: max w/ long clubs
     3♣: min w/ long clubs
2M: 5 card suit, constructive but not forcing, usually tolerance to play 3♣ opposite a one-suiter
2NT: artificial game force w/ a 5 card major
     3♣: no 3 card major
     3: at least 1 3 card major
     3M: 5 card suit

The other option for dealing with the 5M and 4♣ hands in canape is to use 2M openings to show these hands, which really is easier to handle, but the value of a 2M preempt is too good to use for something else. Now, if we could use 2 as a weak 2 in either major, then I wouldn't be opposed to this treatment, but then this wouldn't be a general convention chart system.

Edited Sept 1, 2010:
The rest of our opening bids are now:
1♣: balanced 12-14, any 17+ unbal, any 18+ bal.
1//♠ :11-16, 4+ card suit, could have longer side suit (1M could be 4441 w/ shortness in other major)
1NT: 15-17
2: 11-16, 4-4-1-4 or 4-4-4-1
2/♠: good weak 2 (9 to 12) in 1st and 2nd seat. 3rd seat much less disciplined
2NT: 5 to 10, 5-5 minors

Please see my other atricles on canape bidding.

This Weekend's Bridge Results

So, this weekend included almost nothing but bridge, watching golf, and baseball. It was kind of nice, actually, once I got over the disastrous first 3 rounds Saturday morning at the Macon club. I'll blame it on being in the morning. Anyway, here's a defensive hand that I should have beaten but did not. I led 4th best spade against 1NT, declarer taking partner's Q with the A. She then cashed 3 hearts, and led a club. Partner inserted the J and declarer won. I paused for a couple of seconds, thinking that maybe it's right to play the K, but followed low. Next was a diamond to the Q and a diamond back to the K. Now I had no choice but to play K and another spade, giving declarer her 7th trick with the SJ. Yes, declarer could have played the hand better but I should have figured out to unblock the CK. Normally splitting the honors there wouldn't be right with a likely diamond entry to dummy but partner knows that I need to know how he could get in again to lead spades through declarer, and that should help. Declarer has shown up with 3 aces and the presumes SJ so must have the missing DK and maybe or maybe not the DJ. And I don't want to be on lead anyway. If another club comes next, I would be forced to break diamonds, which gives declarer a trick, or lead spades, which also gives declarer a trick. And if he plays diamonds next, I would have to take air with the first diamond or take the 2nd and 3rd round of diamonds and again have to lead a spade into declarer's jack. So, thinking it through a little more, it is clear to play the CK under the A. It seems like a strange time to have to stop and think for awhile, but I guess it's appropriate.

Final tally: +55 imps in 172 hands: 44 hands with Sean, 13 w/ Val, 30 w/ Carol, 8 w/ Harlan, 19 w/ Ramesh, 17 w/ Gideon, 12 money hands with robots, 21 w/ Bob, and 28 w/ Emory. And this time the best results were with Emory (+69 imps in 28 deals), as should be the case. In addition, much time was spent at the partnerhsip bidding table testing out new methods for our canapé system and sort of teaching it to others.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My favorite bid in bridge: the takeout doubler makes a subsequent double which is penalty. Generally this only happens against me and one or both of the opponents has a misguided idea of what the doubles mean. And often times I get doubled by such opponents when we have an actual fit but I go down 1 and get a bad score.

An example of this is 1D-X-2D-P; P-X-P-P; P. OR 2H-X-3H-P; P-X-P-P; P.

If you make a takeout double, and then later double the same suit again, it is not a penalty double. I've seen this work both ways. One where the doubler's partner bids and the doubler thinks his 2nd double, with something like a 15 count and 4 good trumps, is penalty. And I've seen it where the doubler's partner leaves the double in with a nothing hand, thinking it was a penalty double, but in fact the doubler has an appropriate 17 count.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bidding after opener's jumpshift

I've been told that reading about failed slam bidding is not exciting to read about, but today I have many examples of that to write about, mostly from the club GNT qualifier I played in today. Pushed the opponents into a slam they weren't going to bid, bid 4 slams that went down, and stopped in game on 2 more cold slams. But I won't write about that, at least not now.

Here's a bidding theory question that came up a couple of days ago while I was kibitzing, that sort of goes along with a quiz I posted a week or two ago. the auction is uncontested: 1H-1S-3D-3H. first, the 3H could be a temporizing bid or it could be a limit raise, right? Opener bids 3S next. If responder then bids 4NT, is that RKC for spades or hearts? If he cue bids 4C and then 4D, is 4NT then RKC for hearts or spades? I think it is for hearts. Unless you're playing 6 key card blackwood in this instance, counting both major kings as key cards. Making a forward going bid over 3S confirms that the 3H bid was not just a preference or temporizing bid but real support because he could bid 3S or 4m to show a slammish hand without 3 card heart support.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Preempting Life

In bridge, preempting is an attempt to prevent the opponents from bidding effectively – essentially, it is taking a chance that partner doesn’t have a good hand either and that by bidding higher right away, you’ll put yourself in a better position to score well. Life, however, isn’t a competition so you’re not trying to prevent anyone else from having anything but just trying to be prepared for the future changes that might or might not occur. Occasionally in bridge, it backfires and you go for -800 or so, occasionally you keep them out of game or slam or they get to the wrong strain, and sometimes it really doesn’t have much effect. In life, it can work the same way. Preempting life can sabotage the current state, make the future changes not so glorious, or it can help you move on to bigger and better things, or it can have no effect at all.

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, preempt has these definitions:
1) to acquire (as land) by preemption
2) to seize upon the exclusion of others
3) to replace with something considered to be of greater value or priority
4) to gain a commanding or preeminent place in
5) to prevent from happening or taking place
6) to make a preemptive bid in bridge

So, what does it mean to preempt life? I define it as planning ahead to have activities to fill certain voids in life in the near future that inevitably will be there when some current activity ends. This can include preparing for a new job before you quit the old one, making new friends in anticipation of a falling out with a current friend or a current friend’s move, planning a weekend visit somewhere to preclude being home and alone and bored, trying to get involved in another social activity after it gets to be too cold to play tennis, or trying to develop a new partnership with the anticipation that a current partnership is going to end. Since this is the bridge blog, I suppose I should write more about bridge – if you want to read about more life preempts, see my other blog.

My philosophy on preempts in bridge has changed a good bit over the years. I used to preempt with almost any 6 card suit regardless of suit quality, but as I have improved and learned more about the game, I now insist upon having a good suit to preempt. It’s not that preempting on bad suits really goes for a big number too often but rather, the benefits of taking up a little bidding space does not outweigh the number of times it gets partner off to the wrong opening lead, or subsequent defensive plays, thinking you actually had an honor two in the suit. Now days, I am much more likely to open 2S on AKJxx and out than Jxxxxx with a side A. Defense really is the most important part of the game and your defensive bidding really should help guide the defense. Getting partner to lead a suit you hold 6 to the J in instead of a likely more attractive lead is generally not worth sticking in a bid just to be a nuisance. I could say the same thing about my overcall style now. I’d much prefer overcalling with a 9 point hand with an AQJxx suit than a 14 point hand with a Qxxxx suit. With the ladder hands, it seems to be better to pass for now and maybe compete later if they try to stop in 2D.

In bridge, they say you shouldn’t preempt with a good hand because it inhibits your side from bidding effectively, something that is more important when you have the good cards. Much the same with life – you shouldn’t preempt when it is going well. Or should you? Should you always have a “backup plan ready to be put into action” or does that jeopardize the current state of goodness?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Support Double Auctions

So, I know there are way more readers than the 7 that responded to the last poll. In fact, traffic data indicates around 25-30 regular readers so let's hear your opinion this time (you can answer the poll anonymously).

What is standard for what a new suit by responder means after opener makes a support double? I've searched the internet for what is standard for responder bidding a new suit below 2 of the support suit and have not found anything. some other support double questions you might want to agree on with partner.
Are support doubles on after 1m-(1H)-1S-(2H), when responder has shown 5 spades?
Are support doubles on after 1m-(P)-1M-(1NT)?
Are support doubles on after 1m-(1H)-X-(2H)?

After the auction has gone, 1C-P-1H-1S; X-P, select which of the following statements you agree with (you may vote for several answers).
2D is natural non-forcing
2D is a game try with hearts agreed
2D is a game try with clubs agreed
2D is natural and forcing, like any other new suit by responder
2H tends to promise 5
2S is a game try with hearts agreed
3C or 3H is forcing
3C or 3H is invitational free polls

Monday, April 5, 2010

BBO Weekend

Despite my weekend not starting until 9pm Friday and having my parents over Saturday night and Easter stuff Sunday, I managed to play nearly 200 bridge hands this past weekend and none with the GIB.

39 with Adam (mtvesuvius)
34 with Sean (dude2010)
28 with Bob
21 with Ramesh (godot79)
19 with random
14 with Owen (olien)
11 with Emory (emoryw)
11 with Carol (h2omom)
7 with Gideon (serapuff)
53.8% in 97 matchpoint deals
+43.74imps in 87 imp deals

Probably my favorite hand of them all was doubling Val and Sean in 2 in the hand shown. We needed a win on this board to push the 8 board BAM. I was east and I found the A opening lead, followed by , ruff. Eventually we collected our 3 tricks and 2 tricks, and a for down 4 and +800.

That is all. I don’t feel like writing much today, which means I must be reasonably happy today.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Who to Blame?

I guess I don't so much like to write about the good bids or plays that I make. They all seem so routine. So, here's a hand from a couple of days ago that my partner and I really screwed up. I held: Txx, Qxxx, xx, KJxx and partner held: Jxx, xxx, AKQTxx, A. Partner was dealer and the auction went: 1D-P-1H-1S; X-P-1NT-P; 2NT-P-P-P. Down 4 when they took the first 9 tricks in hearts and spades.

Who is to blame more for this disaster? 2D or 3D obviously shouldn't make either but down only 1 would be a decent score. All is normal until my rebid after the support double. What would you rebid with this? 1NT seemed at the time to be the least of evils. So, which bid is worse? 1NT or 2NT?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Déjà Vu

Do you ever feel like you're doing something you've already done, or that you're doing something you've done before with slightly different parameters, or that you're doing something you've already done with a different audience, or that you're doing something that you've already done?

As an engineer doing mostly testing of radar systems, I have found myself doing that a lot lately. Maybe it's rerunning a test after a slight code change or rerunning a test with one parameter different, or rerunning a test just to see if the system will do the same over and over, or rerunning a test on a different computer. After awhile you start to forget what you've tried and haven't tried or what techniques worked and what didn't work.

But it's not just in engineering where this kind of thing occurs. It's apparently in all facets of life.

In the world of bridge, you open that ragged 10 point hand and go down in 3NT time and time again. Eventually, maybe you'll realize that you shouldn't open hands like that. Or maybe, you open that 10 point hand against an expert pair who knows how to defend so you get a bad board. A few days or weeks later, you get a similar hand against a very weak pair and get to your 22 point 3NT and it rolls because they slip a trick or two. Or maybe next time you open that 10 point hand, it helps keep the opponents out of game.

In the world of the pick-up artist, the pick-up artist may try to same techniques or moves or line or whatever you want to call them on numerous women and get a vastly different result each time. Just because it doesn't work one time with one girl at one place doesn't mean it won't work with a different girl at the same place or even the same girl in a different time and/or place. I have relatively no experience in this area - I'm just going by what my friends tell me and what I may have read in The Game by Neil Strauss.

In the world of social life, One day a friend may not want to go out. Maybe next time, a different day, a different mood, he may just want to read a book alone. Next time, maybe a different place, he still may say he just wants to wallow in front of the tv. Next time, maybe a different group of people and a different place, he may have other plans. How many times should one put up with this "i'd like to but i have something else to do today" before deciding that the other person just will never not have something else to do?

In engineering, it may take hundreds or thousands of little tweaks to get something to do what you want but never quite get to the point of saying for sure that a desired outcome will not be achieved. For people and brdige hands, does that principle apply as well? For people, I am inclined to think that at some point the probability approaches 1 that a desired outcome will not be achieved. I have no idea how many trials it takes to reach that. Is it 3 or 5 or 10 or 50? And I am inclined to think that in bridge, except in the most obvious situations, the probability of the desired outcome will never approach 0 or 1.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Do You Know When Gerber is Alertable?

Last time out at the bridge club, my partner and I were defending and one of the top 3 pairs in the room had the uncontested auction: 1C*-1S; 2D-3S; 4C-4D; 4D-5S; P. My partner was on lead with something like: xx, xxxx, xxx, Axxx. What would you lead? 1C was alerted as and 16+hcp and there were no other alerts. I guess most of you would ask some questions about the bidding but we didn’t. I think that without any alerts, it’s safe to assume that 3S indicated a self-sufficient suit, 4C, 4D, and 5D are cue bids, in which case, this bidding clearly calls for a heart lead, to get partner’s trick in the suit before it goes away on diamonds. Another possibility is that 4C is natural, 4D a preference, and/or a bidding misunderstanding. Regardless, that auction also indicates that a heart lead is best because you don’t want to set up dummy’s second suit. In both cases, the club trick(s) may go away if you don’t take them now because they are quite likely to have two running 6 or 7 card suits.

Anyway, dummy came down with 20 hcp including Qxx of clubs and on the heart lead there were 13 top tricks. Had we been properly informed that 4C was Gerber, and 5D to play, I’m fairly certain my partner would have lead the ace of clubs and another club to hold it to 5. It turned out -450 and -510 would both have been worth 5 out of 6 matchpoints because most were letting 3NT make 7.

So, 4C as Gerber in that situation, as long as they do in fact have an agreement that it is Gerber, definitely should be alerted. Actually, it should be a delayed alert, which you announce at the end of the auction. According to the ACBL alert procedures: Any variety of 4NT Blackwood over a suit bid and 4C over a NT bid are not alertable. All other ace-asking bids (which would include Gerber over something other than NT) are alertable. Beginning with opener’s second call, an alertable bid above 3NT is a delayed alert, and all ace-asking bids at 3NT or below require an immediate alert. With that said, I think the score should have been adjusted to making 5 instead of making 7 because the failure to alert clearly steered my partner away from the winning club lead.