Saturday, February 25, 2012

Changing movements

My technical director skills were put to the test today. Started with a 6.5 table Mitchell, and about 20 minutes into the game one pair (not the pair that was sitting out first) has a medical emergency and has to leave. How do you reorganize the game?

One simple solution would be to put a 5th board on each table and play a 5x5 skip Mitchell. The would mean only 25 boards and the board sets would be 1-4 and 29, 5-8 and 30, etc... Plus 6 table Mitchells bother me. 6.5 or 7 table Mitchells bother me, too, but the Macon club doesn't have guide cards for the 9x3 3/4 7 table Howell (only the 13x2 which isn't good for the amount of crippled people here. The pair opposing the pair that left would play the pair sitting out and probably get 2 or 3 no plays for the first round but mainly this is just a terrible movement as far as fairness is concerned. Another option is to set up a relay and play 6x4 Mitchell. One set of boards would inevitably be out of order and people would complain about not playing enough boards - most would play 24 but one or two only 20. And I'm certainly not running a 6x5 game for a 30 board session that would keep us here close to 4 hours. The third option (and the one I chose) was to change to a 9x3 Howell. Since most tables had played the first 3 of each 4 board set, I had everyone move for round 2 according to the guide cards and I personally moved the boards until i got the bridgemates reconfigured to show the correct boards. For this option, boards with west dealer wouldn't get played because I was pretty much forced into using board sets 1-3, 5-7, 9-11, etc. and having a board set of 4,8,12 seems silly. For about 10 minutes, everyone except me was confused but they continued to play without interruption and all was fine. It's 2 hours 10 minutes after we started and now moving into round 7 so right on time with only one NP. I think this was the most difficult of the 3 options I considered but definitely allowed for the best game once people got over the wacky board sequences. Thankfully the bridgemates are good at knowing which boards to expect because they're way off from the printed guide cards.So while the whole room was confused and complaining a couple of hours ago, now they are impressed at how well it all worked out with no delay.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Santa Clara regional

Wow. It's been almost 2 weeks since I updated! I haven't really played bridge in that time until the last 3 days in Santa Clara. It was 3 days of pairs with Meg - definitely not a good weekend of bridge for her and not so great for me either. It took 5 sessions before we scratched with a 3rd in the section of the Sunday imp pairs. We followed it up with just barely scratching in the evening to miss the overalls. I have a slew of defensive hands I can write about and add to the collection for my future book.

It was a good trip and one I think I will want to make more often in the future. Flying into San Jose is really convenient and even though there is only 1 direct flight per day between SJC and ATL, it's an ideal time - departs ATL at 7:10pm and coming back it's a red eye leaving at 10:40. If there are any readers here in Silicon Valley who want to hire me as an EE or software engineer and give me lots of freedom to take time off for travel and to play bridge, I'd happily consider such a job.

Anyway, one of our best boards the first day was when I overcalled 1NT after my RHO opened 1C and got to play it there.
Dummy (south):

           RHO (west):

Put yourself in my RHO's position. The opening lead was a low diamond to the Q and K. Next came DJ, SA, SK from declarer, and spade to you. You cash the last spade. Partner discards a discouraging H7, and the C5 while dummy sheds a heart. You safely exit the D9 to dummy's A. Declarer pitches a heart. Now dummy plays CQ, you cover, declarer and partner contribute the 2 and 6. This deal has reached a critical point. What now? It appears that declarer is trying to endplay you. That's assuming he has both rounded aces. He's already shown up with 11 points in the pointed suits so that would give him a 19-count. My RHO played the HK, playing his partner to have the ace. However, that gave up a heart trick and allowed me to take 2 hearts and throw him in with a club, forcing him to give me a club trick too (well, it put me with A8 over 97 at trick 12).

A low club at the critical point (trick 8), a low club does no better. Declarer can win with dummy's 10 and then endplay you again by throwing you in with either suit, thus forcing you to again how to lead into a tenace at trick 12. The winning play here is the CJ. Declarer must win this in hand with the ace but now has no successful counter because the good CT is now stiff in dummy. He can cash the club but then has no club to throw you in with the lead away from the HK. And throwing you in with a heart before cashing CT can't work because it sets up your C9.

If declarer doesn't have the HA, can it cost to lead the CJ? Yes because partner has a good diamond he could cash.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bidding after your side has preempted

Generally, it is good to raise partner’s preempt when you have 3 card support or better, to extend the preempt and make it even more difficult for the opposition to find the right level and right strain. Therefore, when the auction proceeds with two passes after a preempt, it’s a good bet that preemptor’s partner does not have much heart support.


Another general rule of preempting is that once you preempt, you should not bid again (unless partner makes a forcing bid). From time to time we may preempt with a freak 6-5 hand and then we may be justified in bidding again.


Case #1: void, Q9xxxxx, AKxx, xx. 3H-3S-4H-4S. Matchpoints, favorable vulnerability. Do you trot out 5H here? I did, but I’m not sure I should despite needing very little from partner to make 5 (AKJ of hearts and a doubleton diamond or the Q makes it pretty much cold, as does both round aces). However, 4S was going down 1 while 4H also should be down 1 as well.


Case #2: JTxx, Txxx, xxx, Qx. None vul. 2S-P. I bid 4S but really this isn’t worth more than 3S. The shape is terrible and it’s too likely that 4S will go down for more than their game. As it turns out, 4S went down 3 but the other side was cold for 7 (C, D, or NT). -500 wasn’t a great score, though, because a few north-souths played 5 of a minor for 440.


Case #3: xx, Axxxx, KTx, Qxx. 2H-P. Both vul. This one is worth 4H. 11 card fit, plus some other values. The shape still isn’t great but this is definitely better than the previous hand. They missed a cold 4H.


Case #4: Kxx, KQJxxx, xxxx, void. 2H-P-P-2S. This is marginally freaky enough to warrant another bid. I doubt I would but it worked out well for this person to bid 3H over 2S.


Case 3 and 4 hands go together and put me in a tough spot with Ax, xx, QJxx, KJxxx behind the 2H opener. Double is clearly business, not responsive, 4C doesn’t seem right, 4H seems like a bit of an overbid, 3S is a possibility that may work out well. In retrospect I think 3S may be best, but I don’t know. I doubled, expecting partner to have 2 or 3 hearts and us to just have lots of values with no real fit.