Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fourth Suit Forcing Auctions

Fourth suit forcing to game is something most players play nowadays but I think many people don't know some of the implications of bidding fourth suit. Why do we bid fourth suit forcing? Because we want to be in game but don't know what strain we should be in or because we want to make a forcing raise but bidding 2, 3, or 4 of the suit would all be passable, and/or because we want to make a slam try.

Take this auction for example: 1C-1H-1S-2D-2NT-3S. Opener has a balanced minumum with 4 spades and a diamond stopper. Many people do not know what responder is showing here. He is making a slam try in spades. He could not bid 2S (nonforcing), 3S (inv), or 4S (sign off) so the only way to raise spades and have it be forcing is to bid 4th suit and then bid 3S. A good hand for this would be: AJxx, AKxx, Kxx, Ax. Take out a king and it's a simple 4S bid over 1S. Likewise, responder has to bid fourth suit to make a forcing club or heart raise.

As with new minor forcing, many people think of 4th suit as just showing a good hand with a 5 card major, which it frequently is, but people need to keep in mind that it could be a hand with too much to just jump to game, and/or a forcing hand that does not have the 4th suit stopped.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

AJB Sweep of District 7 NAP Flight C

For the second straight year, teenagers from the Atlanta area won 1st and 2nd on the flight C district 7 NAP. In fact, this year they took 3rd as well. Congratulations to this year's winners who will represent GA, SC, NC, and eastern TN at the spring NABC in Louisville: 1st Saachi Hingorani and Aashna Choudhary; 2nd Angie Green and Mili Raina, who I was going to play with in B but there's a conflict w/ B and C at the nationals; 3rd Ricoh Das, who I also play with/teach, and Murphy Green.

Atlanta Junior Bridge is clearly doing some good things that will hopefully lead to more success in youth and junior international success in the coming years. I just hope getting beaten by kids doesn't discourage the older players who are new to bridge or duplicate bridge from continuing to learn the game. And I hope that they don't get used to winning every - it gets a harder to win in flight B, and much harder in flight A. The winners have been unable to tell me a favorite hand from the tournament for me to write about but see some of my previous and upcoming posts for a few of my interesting struggles with the same hands in flight A. The results and hand records can be found here.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I witnessed this auction in the NAP game on Saturday. So much for scientific bidding. 1C was precision and 1H was 8+ hcp with 5+ spades. And it's another of my bad boards. I found myself on lead with Tx, Txxx, xxx, Jxxx and for some reason chose to lead from the jack, the only lead that gives him the contract. Declarer's hand: AKJxx, AKx, AQ, AKT.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Defensive Struggles

The District 7 NAP finals got off to an ominous start for Emory and I and my defensive mishaps did not improve the rest of the day.

We started against the McLaughlins and they reached 4H after Mark opened a 5-10 weak 2 and then after a 2NT inquiry said he had a good weak 2. He could have shown a weak 2 he is ashamed of, a minimum, a super max, or a solid suit.

Dealer: S
Vul: E-W

A trump lead stands out to me but apparently lots of people chose a more aggressive lead as we got 2.5 out of 8 when my subsequent defense gave him a trick. He played 4 rounds of hearts and then took a spade finesse and led a club to his K and my ace.

By this point I am pretty sure from partner's signaling that declarer is 3-6-2-2. I can see that if he ever gets back to his hand, a repeated spade finesse will provide 1 discard but the only back to his hand is to trump a minor suit. So if I cash a club he will easily be able to trump the third one and pitch a diamond loser on spades. A spade lead is obviously out of the question. A diamond lead appears to be able to hold him to 4 if partner has the Q, for he will again be stuck on dummy and have to lead a minor suit to us and we can then cash a winner in the other minor. But if declarer has the DQ, a diamond lead would give him a 12th trick. So the question becomes whether a 10 count with KQT of hearts and Kx and Qx in the minors would be a super max or just a decent weak 2. Obviously there are better 10 count weak 2's (HAK and Kxx on the side) but this still is close to the best hand he could have and open a weak 2. So I played partner for the DQ and he made 6. In retrospect, we are probably above average already for having made a good opening lead and I should make a passive club continuation.

A couple of rounds later, we came up against the eventual winners Owen Lien and Kevin Wilson, and after two fairly average boards, we had this annoying one.
Dealer: E
Vul: E-W

Pass 4All Pass

We cashed our 3 black suit winners (A, A, then K). Kevin led the jack of hearts off the dummy and Emory followed low, at which point he tanked for a few minutes and eventually dropped my stiff K. Yes, I could have bid a little more aggressively and help get us to 4 but I really think I bid enough and 4 is probably the most common spot. Playing for the stiff K offside is definitely anti-precentage and even more so when I have shown at least 5-5 in spades and a minor. The reasoning for choosing this play is beyond me - because he didn't think I would bid Michaels vulnerable with only two Axxxx suits, as if the singleton K makes my hand so much better. Argh.

On the next board against a different pair Emory opens 2, RHO looks for a few seconds and then says, "is that a weak 2" and I respond with a Sean-like response (see paragraph 4 in the Alert Procedure post 2 weeks ago) "I didn't alert it so it probably is." She comes back with, "Well, I'm still allowed to ask." Me: "Yes, but you're not allowed to suggest what you may or may not think it means." We wind up getting to 3NT going down 1 when LHO, holding KQT4 and the A, finds the correct play of a low heart at trick 2 after the K held trick 1. The lady's hand who asked about 2: xxx, Jxx, Axxx, Txx.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Responsive Doubles and Other Competitive Doubles

Online I ran across a few situations where there was some confusion as to what double means: when the opponents interfere after a 2/1, when the opponents preempt after 1X-P-1Y, and the misuse of responsive doubles after 1M-X-2M.

A responsive double is generally defined as a double when the opponents have bid and raised a suit and partner has either made a takeout double or overcalled. When partner has overcalled, for example 1D-1H-2D-X, the double is clearly takeout for spades and clubs, without heart support. When partner has doubled and the opponents bid and raised a minor, for example 1D-X-2D-X, the double is clearly asking partner to bid a major, presumably showing 4-4 in the majors and not suggesting clubs at all.

There apparently is some confusion, at least amongst some juniors that I was watching yesterday, about what a responsive double means when it goes 1S-X-2S-X. This responsive double is not takeout for 3 suits. That would be a bit too vague as the chances that responder is 1-4-4-4 is minimal and with any other takeout shape, you're really not any more likely to find the best fit by passing the decision of which suit back to partner. A responsive double in this situation (1M-X-2M-X) should be takeout for the minors, i.e. "I don't have support for the other major and want to compete to 3 of a minor but I want you to pick which minor." This is based on the idea that if the responsive doubler has 4 of the other major, he would just bid that suit because the original takeout doubler is extremely likely to have 4 as well.

A second double that I have come across lately is 1H-P-2C-2S; X. We are in a game force and this guy comes in a bids. This is a penalty double, probably something like KJx, AKxxx, Axx, xx. It may make sense for this to just show extra values or show some club support or something else that probably is only useful for marginal slam hands, but being able to punish the opponent for sticking his neck in our auction.

The third double is in an auction like 1D-P-1H-2S; X. This time we are not in a game force and this is too high to be a support double (committing to 3H with a minimum could be dangerous). Penalty doesn't make as much sense here because we don't have as good an idea of where we are headed with this auction when we do have a good hand. This double should be just general extra values, probably a hand that would have rebid 2NT if RHO had passed, maybe a hand like Qx, Axx, KQJx, AQxx.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Clarity of Revoke Laws and Offender's Obligations

Since we are on the topic of ethics lately, here's another one. A few months ago I posted about the one and only time I revoked, For the few of you who read this but not, I'd like to direct you to an article about the 1983 Bermuda Bowl in which Zia "got away with" a revoke while playing for Pakistan against Sweden.

Personally, I don't care what the actual rule book says. If a clear error (all 4 players agree the wrong score was awarded) can be corrected, it should be corrected. If I were the director, equity would be restored for the revoke in both my case and Zia's even if it is not quite consistent with the laws. There must be some clause in the bridge laws that says common sense and reasonable morality takes precedence over some silly rules about how much time can pass before changing a score or who can/should bring attention to a revoke. I guess there should technically be some limit, but during the same session or in the break between that session and the next is certainly acceptable - just don't go trying to change a score 3 days later when everyone has left.

I also disagree that a player is not obligated to "draw attention to an infraction by one's own side." This seems rather inconsistent with the law that a player must announce any failures to alert or wrong alerts at the end of an auction (if on is the declaring side). While it is the opponents' fault for not catching the revoke, I don't think they should be obligated to be the ones to point it out. Bridge is kind of like golf and tennis - gentleman's games (at least it should be) where people are expected to conduct themselves with class and play honestly and police themselves for the most part.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Latest GIB Lunacy

So, the robot didn't really do anything strange at my table. We had a sane auction to 6NT. With other players I'm sure I could have gotten to 7D or right-sided 6NT, but 3D over 2D apparently wouldn't have been forcing so the only way to blackwood in diamonds would have been 4NT immediately over 2D. Anyway, the lunacy is in the traveller. I sat west while most of the humans playing with 3 robots sat south. Check out the traveller and notice that every other table played 1D so the GIB really passed 1D with a 17 count?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Genius or Stupidity?

For the most part I leave hand analysis to Andre. He has been playing for almost twice as long as I have and is clearly a better player. At the Atlanta sectional, however, I was faced with quite the defensive dilemma. I picked up J9x T9xx A98 xxx and after a simple 1NT-2C;2D-2NT;3NT auction by the opponents I was on lead. My fourth best Heart hit the table and the dummy set down: QTxx J8xx xxx KQ.

Low Heart from dummy and partner’s King gets taken by the Ace. Declarer quickly cashes his clubs from dummy and then leads a small diamond from the board to his King and my Ace. So what do I know? Declarer has AC, AH, KD, QH. He has 2-4 HCP still unaccounted for. He is likely to have 5 Clubs since he doesn’t have a 4 card Major. That gives him 8 top tricks: 5 Clubs and the AQJ of Hs. He also could now have a good diamond trick – or two. And what is the situation with Spades? Why did he take this line?

Playing IMPS I have no real need to worry about possibly giving up an overtrick if it means having a chance to defeat the contract. I decided my only shot was that he had stranded himself from the Jack of Hearts. Does he have xxx AQ KQx ATxxx? I concluded that if he had a spade honor then he couldn’t have another diamond honor and he wouldn’t ever play into a diamond suit that he has completely unguarded. And I played him for the above hand. I exited a passive Club hoping that we had two more diamond tricks and two spades. It might have been better exit a diamond at this point but I’m not sure it makes much difference. I think a club is slightly better in case declarer only has four and has to lead diamonds out of his hand.

It turns out, however, that my partner wasn’t able to scream for a diamond lead quite loudly enough for me to figure it out. He has Kxx Kx QJxxx Jxx. Declarer gave us pretty much the only shot at beating the contract: because of the diamond spots without declarer leading them it is very hard for Andre and me to unblock the suit. Even on a club lead, declarer can set up his Queen of Spades.

So why did he take this line in IMPs? I can’t answer that question at all. He has 9 quick tricks after my free finesse of partner’s King of Hearts. My question is slightly different: What about matchpoints? Is this play genius or beginner? It will gain matchpoints any time the AD is onside, and even when it is offside how often will they be able to figure out the Diamond situation? Of course there is that unlucky time when LHO will have AQJxx of Diamonds, but otherwise will the opponents ever be able to figure out the cards you are holding? I know that as a defender I was very upset that I couldn’t figure it out, but I don’t see any way that I should have – if anyone does I would love to know.

So, is this a play that experts in the Open Pairs would be doing or would you always cash out? I’ve given the hands below if anyone has any interest:

Dealer: South
Vul: none

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pre-Alert: Canape, Variable 1C Openings

Last weekend, I sat at the bridge table with the Feagins 3 times - once as a kibitzer and twice as an opponent - and each time (over a mere 14 boards) they had a bidding misunderstanding. This is easily one of the top 3 or 4 pairs in Georgia and a pair that has been playing together longer than I have been alive, maybe even twice that long. So, bidding misunderstandings happen even for the best and most experienced partnerships. The one against us in the Sunday Swiss epitomizes one of the main difficulties of playing against a mulit-meaning 1C opening such as Polish or Swedish and some problems with the ACBL pre-alert system.

We got to the table and, per ACBL procedures, pre-alerted that we play canape. I also mentioned we play a variable 1C opening and they quickly agreed to treat it as natural. I normally don't mention the 1C opening in a pair game because it's not a pre-alertable and can take up a lot of time, but in an 8 board match, I generally try to mention it to them as a courtesy. A couple of boards into the round, Sean opened 1C, alerted and explained as balanced 12-14 or unbalanced 17+ or any 18+. Jack overcalled 1H, I passed, and Claudia bid 2C. What happened with the rest of the hand is unimportant. The point is that they didn't know whether 2C was natural or a cuebid showing heart support, even after agreeing before-hand that they would treat our 1C as natural. In my opinion, and the opinion of most people, you should play "imaginary cuebids" to show a good heart raise. Opener is very likely to have a weak balanced hand, and you definitely need constructive bidding available. There are several specialized defenses to multi-purpose 1C openings, but I don't think any of them are worth playing - just assume it's a "could be short" 1C and bid naturally.

ACBL laws and most directors I have asked clearly state that canape is pre-alertable but any system with 1C as a forcing opening is not pre-alertable, whether it is precision, polish, swedish, or some similar variant. Most good players know what methods they use over a big 1C opening, over a standard 1C opening, and over a "short" 1C opening, but I have found that most do not know what they do over a variable 1C opening even though such systems are fairly common worldwide. In Poland, 1C is a typically a balanced 12-14 or 15+ with long clubs or any 18+. In Sweden, it is a balanced 11-13 or any 17+. In the Asbury-Gannon Swedish Canape system, it is a balanced 12-14 or unbalanced 17+ or balanced 18+.

The purpose of pre-alerting is to allow the opponents to discuss how they will defend against a system or convention that is highly unusual. Canape is definitely unusual and the fact that we can frequently open the bidding and conceal a 5 card side suit is unexpected (which therefore could never be alerted in the bidding), but there's not really anything the opponents could have to discuss about their bidding. Bidding is still natural (opening 4 card majors is and never will be any sort of an alert). The canape rebid of a 5 card side suit is definitely alertable, but there's still nothing the opponents should do different from standard, at least in what their bids mean. A variable 1C opening seems to need a pre-alert more than canape, at least in the US where most players are unfamiliar with such systems. Without a pre-alert, the opponents will be caught off guard and frequently do not know whether to treat 1C as "could be short", natural, or big, opening up many potential cases of mis-information, bad alerts, failures to alert, and general confusion.

I sometimes want to tell people what our 1C opening is and then tell them that they need to decide how they are going to defend against it but that is very time consuming, especially when playing only 2 or 3 board rounds. And sometimes I think that when I alert one club and explain it I should suggest some defense or tell them they can discuss what they play over it at that time even thought neither of those are technically allowed. But it would eliminate the need for a director call for misinformation or having all of us at the table just unsure about whether he had a takeout double of 1C, or the majors, or a strong hand, or just clubs. In a way, though, the lack of an agreement probably keeps many people from entering the auction and gives us a slightly unfair advantage, even though I'm sure we are following the alert procedures properly. The fact that our 1C could be a flat 12 count probably keeps out some of the ragged nuisance overcalls and preempts that people often make against a strong club because you don't want to deceive partner who may well hold a very good hand if we have the weak NT variety.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You Partner

After winning two out of our first rounds in the Sunday Swiss, Andre and I sit down to play another eight board round. I pick up QJ9xxxx KJ Kx Jx and open 2S showing 9-12HCP and 6 Spades. Andre bids a forcing 3 Hearts and I raise him to four. When I put down the dummy he was clearly visibly upset, and he proceeded to go down a mere 300. I still don’t necessarily disagree with my bidding, but that isn’t the main point of this post.

From this point on Andre looked very annoyed and thought that I had misplayed a 3 Heart contract two boards later although the hand is unmakeable. Nonetheless, I could feel the pressure of him thinking I am playing poorly and being upset with my bridge game. It had been a long weekend with some disappointing results, and I do not blame Andre for being upset; I know for a fact that if my partner does something that I strongly disagree with and it turns out poorly that I can make faces with the best of them. All of this said I think that Andre and I are one of the better partnerships when it comes to getting annoyed with our partner.

When one of us gets mad we’ll say something along the lines of “and the reason was?” or “why?” and the other will respond with a few words about their thinking or just a simple apology and asking to talk about it later. We might remain annoyed for a board or two, but we soon will discuss the hand and move on. In the worst case we will each go walk separately for a few minutes between rounds, and come back to the table with a little clearer of a mind to focus on the upcoming boards.

I think one of the most important things when it comes to getting annoyed with partner is to not make a scene at the table. Put a note next to the hand on your score card and discuss the hand after the round. Andre and I will have a maximum of a few sentences interchanged before one of us says “let’s talk about it later”. This does a few things: helps let you focus on the current board rather than continue to argue about the previous one and it also is a lot more considerate to your partner. He or she shouldn’t have to be berated in front of two other people; if you don’t come to an agreement quickly then talk about the hand privately and discuss what went wrong. Andre and I were playing in the Swiss and one of the opponents made a bid that they disagreed on and the bidder got mocked and insulted by her partner. Andre and I strongly believe that she was correct and that her partner was extremely rude. Trust that your partner had some reason for taking the action that they did and discuss it afterwards if you disagree.

Your partner is trying to work with you. If you get mad at them they are going to play worse, and they are going to start dislike playing with you. Also, when you act inconsiderate to your partner at the table people build quick impressions of you. Remember to try and keep a good mood and through a joke around every few hands even if your partner is the only one who gets it; bridge is a game – enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hesitation After a Gambling 3NT

There are some little old ladies who you will never be able to educate about hesitations and the fact that bidding after partner hesitates to clearly show values is unethical. This incident last night is also why bridge games should have non-playing directors. But in a fairly small club with games of normally 6-8 tables such as Warner Robins.

Last night, I picked up xx, xx, AKQJxxxx, x and opened 3NT, alerted and later explained, in 2nd seat both vul. I know this alert might require a little extra time for a beginner and this lady was probably only slightly past the novice stage, but she took close to 1 minute.. much too long. Partner passed and, whether you know the Gambling 3NT convention or not, based on the alert that I have a solid suit with no A or K outside the suit, common sense should tell you that my partner has a decent hand, else he would "correct" to 4 of my minor. Anyway, passed hand RHO chimed in with 4S. Her hand: xxxxx, AKxx, x, Jxx.

Now, a director should have been called after the tank pass over 3NT to protect our side from RHO making a borderline bid, which would likely be based on the fact that the hesitation indicates LHO has a good hand. But I was the only director at the club that night and my partner and I were probably the only 2 people that have any significant knowledge about hesitations and the ramifications thereof. Anyway, dummy wasn't as good as it should have been for the tank but did include 3 spades. Fortunately the contract went down 3 doubled against our non-making 3NT (we could lose 4 hearts and a spade if they lead them immediately).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Alert Procedure

This is Sean. Andre invited me to post on his blog whenever I have something I think is relevant, and after this last weekend of unsuccessful bridge I did take away some possible posts. After this weekend in Atlanta, I walked away with more gripes about our opponents than usual. We started the weekend with an argument with a good Atlanta pair who were extremely rude and refused to check the seating chart or explain that they asked the director for that particular seat - the directors had accidentally forgotten when placing the seating assignments so they reassigned us. From that point it might have been impossible for me to feel good about my opponents, but there were a lot of things that stuck with me more than usual.

Although I am a junior and may make some borderline tactical and psychic bids, I still view myself as a very ethical bridge player. During the Sunday Swiss my RHO picked up: ♠xxx Qx Qxxx ♣Txxx. I preempted a 9-12 2♠ in first seat R/w: 2♠-[X]-P-[2NT]*;P-[3NT]-X-?. 2NT was alerted as Lebensohl. 3NT should show a very strong hand: 22-25 Balanced ((too strong for 3NT over 2♠)). The only real options here in my mind are pass or a penalty redouble; I can’t imagine anyone pulling 3NT. At the table, however, 2NT was not alerted by LHO. This makes it pretty clear to pull to 4 of a minor which is what occurred at the table. I called the director after the bidding and she told us to call again if we feel we were harmed. We got 1100 against a possible 1400 in 3NT so we didn’t call the director because it wasn’t worth the time. I believe that the director should have been much harsher on this point, however. In my eyes it is a pretty clear violation of the rules and thus cheating. It is illegal to compensate for partner’s lack of an alert. This was clearly the least ethical thing I saw all weekend, but there were also some other minor irritations.

I feel strongly about people using proper procedure when it comes to alerts. If I alert my partner’s bid and you are my LHO then don’t ask what it could be and don’t expect a response. This might annoy many people who are trying to get the information, but it is very easy to give away information while asking. Since it isn’t your turn to bid it you can simply be asking to give partner information or ask for the benefit of partner which is illegal. I feel extremely strong about asking solely for the benefit of partner because of an incident in the Mini-Spingold in New Orleans. Also if you look at my convention card and then put it down and ask a question such as “do you play 2/1” or “so that was ____?” then I feel extremely torn at answering. Is it possible that you looked at my card and were unable to find the 2/1 box? I doubt it. You can only be asking because you don’t think partner has the sense to ask or look for themselves. However, I am a junior and any action that seems to be taken as offensive such as not answering this type of question becomes the fact that I am rude and inconsiderate.

The correct way to ask what an alert or bid is to ask “please explain” or “what is ____”. Almost any other way could accidentally be revealing information about your hand to partner. Take for instance the auction 1H-[P]-3♣*. Let’s say you ask “is that Bergen?” That implies that you know that your right hand opponent doesn’t have a club suit because you must have the suit. If you ask “is that a fit jump?” it implies just the opposite – you have club shortness. Simply ask what 3♣ is if you are thinking of entering the bidding. If you aren’t thinking about entering the bidding then wait for the auction to end and your partner to select his lead; you are entitled to the information, but you want to make sure you don’t give the opponents a chance to exchange any information they don’t deserve or know.
The worst of these scenarios may be when my partner makes a bid such as a natural weak 2 opener and my RHO thinks for a while and says “2 is natural?” I always want to respond “yes, but his diamond suit isn’t nearly as good as yours.” When asking questions in this fashion you are telling your partner that you have reason to believe that 2 can’t be natural such as a good diamond holding.

If the opponents do not alert an alertable bid then the director is going to be forced to bend over backwards to help your side. Had you been told that their 2 opener was Flannery or Mini-Roman and you would have bid then the director will adjust the score to make sure you were not harmed. Not asking will also give you the added benefit of the opponents having a misunderstanding and giving you a good result while you have no way to be harmed because the director will adjust the score in your favor had the information helped you. Asking in these situations goes from a net gain to the only help from asking is so help let your opponents “wake up” and to get yourself in trouble by incidentally giving partner information about your hand that will give the director a reason to rule against your side.

Alert procedure is very easy to follow and should never be misused. I feel very strongly about how alerts should be done and it is a major pet peeve of mine when someone doesn’t do it correctly. On different tone, I dislike all announcements – most of all a natural 1NT, but that is a relative side point.

-- Sean

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Declaring the Odds

Here is one hand that I spent a long time thinking about the percentage play to make the contract, and I tried to calculate it mathematically but I don't trust my combinatorics skills anymore. In an otherwise flat match, I was in 4H - making would mean winning the match (against a team I want to beat more than any other - Emory, Bob Heller, Owen, and Warren Roberts) by 1 and going down would mean losing the match by 10 imps, since 3NT managed to make at the other table (possibly with a low diamond lead from the KQ or blocking diamonds or not leading a diamond - I don't know - perhaps Emory will share how he was allowed to make it)



West led a big diamond and the contract looked unlikely to make but I pondered upon the 2 main options I had:

One line is to play a heart from dummy immediately toward the 9, conceding a diamond loser but allowing myself to finesse trumps. This wins whenever hearts can be picked up for 1 loser and picking up clubs for 1 loser. Basically, needing a 3-2 split with KQ tight or KQT, or HT(x) onside, and the suit combination table says this is 27%. From that 27% we have to subtract the chances of having to lose 2 club tricks. Initially when I did the calculations I thought this was about 50% but it's closer to 10% that you'll have to lose 2 club tricks. Either LHO will lead a club for you after taking the first heart (and may then get to ruff one if he had a stiff) or LHO will lead something else in which case you can pitch a club on the spade K (creating an extra loser when spades are 5-2 and the one that ruffs is not doing so with a natural trump trick. I guess this brings it down to about 24%.

Another line, which is the one I chose, is to take the diamond ace, spade ace and queen, cross to the club ace and play the spade K to pitch the diamond loser. When that held, I led a club toward the queen. Even if LHO ruffs, he is fairly likely to have started with 3 or 4 trumps - it would only cost if a hand with only 1 or 2 hearts gets to ruff in. So, this line makes the contract when: spades are 4-3, the club K is onside, and they don't get to ruff a club with a doubleton or singleton heart. Plus the spade J may drop tripleton and then you can lead the 4th spade to pitch a club so you don't need the club to be onside, hoping again that they have to ruff with the long trumps. My math shows this line to be about 24% as well so I guess it's a play question no one is going to win.

LHO had 2 small clubs and Qx of hearts so I went down when he got to trump a club and RHO still had 2 natural trump tricks with KTx and me having no more entry to finesse.

Overall this sectional in Atlanta was somewhat disappointing at least as far as bridge results are concerned. 5 sessions and less than 5 masterpoints, almost all of which came in the Saturday night single-session Swiss game during which (and for an hour and a half before and afterward) I was drinking copious amounts of the free beer. Sean and I continued our streak of getting blitzed in the first round of Sunday Swisses. But we did not continue our streak of placing overall despite horrendous starts.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Questions from Non-Bridge Friends About Traveling to Tournaments

Whenever I tell my non-bridge friends that I’m going to or have gone to a bridge tournament for a few days, I invariably get the same questions
“Who did you go with?” This is fairly simple and straightforward and so far this year I’ve been to 14 different tournaments and played with 10 different partners, spent 34 nights in hotels for these tournaments, and taken 14.5 vacation days for bridge (out of the 17 vacation days I have for this year, not counting the carryover of 8 from 2009, and used no vacation for anything else). By the end of the year, that will be up to 17 tournaments, 12 different tournament partners, and 40 hotel nights.
“Did you win?” This can be a little hard to answer without going into much detail since we typically play more than one event and have many various degrees of winning, so my answer is usually somewhat vague. “8th in flight A” or “I got one section top but otherwise didn’t do anything” or “I barely scratched” is a bit difficult for some people to grasp. But “I won one event and was around the middle of the pack in another event” is something normal people can comprehend.

“What did you win?” These imaginary things called masterpoints that we collect to show how long and how well we’ve been playing. What’s the point of that? Pride. Self esteem. Bragging rights. I dunno. I don’t understand the system either.

“Why do you like to play even though it’s mostly old people?” Well, there are some young people. Since most of my non-bridge friends are highly intellectual people (almost entirely engineers, computer scientists, future doctors and lawyers), they should understand the intellectual stimulation that bridge can provide but many do not understand how going on a trip to play some card game for a weekend can be more fun than getting drunk at bars, waking up at 1pm, and being a lazy bum watching tv and movies during the day Saturday and Sunday (or chores around the house for the married ones).

“You travel so much. How do you afford it?” Lots of reasons but mainly I’m just a smart spender. My house isn’t cluttered with material things that I buy on a whim. I don’t have a bunch of expensive electronics, I don’t normally buy drinks except in 12 packs, I spend lots of time looking for good hotel and flight deals, I have a good job and rental income, I have no dependents. I really don’t know.