Friday, June 22, 2012

Finding the safe exit card

A couple of nights ago I found myself in a predicament on this defensive hand. Partner led the 2 (playing 4th best) and NS were playing standard American so 1NT was not forcing.


Declarer took the K on the board and played a club to her Q before passing the J to my Q. Without really thinking I played 3rd highest and then 4th highest in clubs. In retrospect, I probably should have unblocked but was a bit concerned that partner led from 3 small and I wouldn’t want to be in a position to not get any club trick.

Anyway, I was in with the Q at trick 3 and now I could see a potential endplay and having to break a pointed suit so I played the T, hoping to deceive partner into thinking declarer has the J and therefore not lead the 4th round of clubs when she gets in with her presumed A. No such luck. Declarer won the A, won the K, and played a heart to partner’s ace. Back came a club to me. Dummy has shed a diamond and a spade and declarer a diamond.

The bidding marks declarer with 8 or 9 hcp, possibly 10 and possibly only 7, and I know of 7 of those points already with 3 more hcp outstanding (J and Q). The bidding also marks declarer with less than 3 spades and there’s a good chance she had a singleton spade. Dummy is left with AKxx  -  AJ  - and I have Qxx  -  KTx  -. If only partner were on lead to play a diamond, all would be easy. I could score the K and the Q to set this contract.

Regardless of the spade situation, a diamond gives up one trick whenever declarer has the Q (I’ll get only my Q for our 4th defensive trick) but is the winning play whenever partner has the Q, holding declarer to probably only 3 of the last 6 tricks and giving us 6 total tricks.

A spade gives up all of the last 6 tricks when declarer has Jx (she gets the J and that gives her an entry to cash the T). When declarer has xx or Tx, any spade lead spade safely preserves at least 1 trick for the defense, plus a 2nd one if partner has the Q. When declarer has a singleton spade, partner may be able to score 2 spade tricks and I’ll still get my K. We don’t want to lead a spade and get thrown back in with the Q, only to have to lead away from the K at trick 11, so maybe it’s better to play the Q. Yes, if you decide to lead a spade, the Q is the one to lead. It has the added bonus of winning when declarer has singleton J, it doesn’t matter when declarer has Jx (a low spade makes all 4 of them good) or a small stiff, and it wins when declarer has xx (you can’t get endplayed again).

Both suits offer a chance to set the contract by 2 tricks while only a spade lead gives declarer a chance to make an overtrick. Does that make a diamond lead right? I don’t think so. It’s equally likely for declarer to have 8 or 9 hcp but there are a couple of things that tip the scales slightly toward leading a spade: 1) Partner chose to lead from 4 small. Would she lead that over Qx or Qxx? Absolutely. Would she lead that over xx, xxx, or xxxx? Probably but not necessarily. 2) Declarer did not try to establish the spade suit earlier so her spades are probably weak and therefore Jx is an unlikely spade holding.

Unfortunately, on this night declarer had Jx and no Q and made 4 for a tie for 6.5 out of 8 matchpoints.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Duplicating Boards

In case anyone has been wondering what the fastest way to duplicate boards by hand is, I've done an extensive study, I've done an extensive study and have determined that it is fastest to sort cards into suits, then distribute them accordingly. Here are my findings, with times being for one person doing the work from a completely unsorted deck with cards still in boards to having all 4 hands arranged and placed back in the board.

Method 1: separate cards by suit, do not sort by rank, distribute according to hand record: 109 seconds
Method 2: separate cards by suit, sort each suit by rank, then distribute face down one by one: 118 seconds
Method 3: distribute cards according to hand record in whatever order the cards happen to come up, then sort and check each hand: 127 seconds (Only 94 seconds if you don't sort and check at the end, but that tends to lead to too many errors)

In other, more interesting news, the first Warner Robins youth bridge camp will be underway with 7 students next week. Not a great response but at least it's happening. Hopefully the t-shirts will get here before the end of next week.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Monday to Friday tournaments

I’m afraid that the Atlanta July sectional is going to see an attendance increase this summer with the ridiculous Monday to Friday schedule. However, I hope it drops from its normal attendance of around 1000 tables so they won’t be tempted to try this again. In case you hadn’t noticed, this summer is the first time that Atlanta has had a tournament with no weekend games and it pisses me off. Seriously. Yeah, I get that bridge players are mostly retired people but making the tournament go from 10am Monday until 5pm Friday is REALLY terrible for those of us who have to work.  I generally love the Atlanta July 4th super sectional because it is in a great location, has a strong field, has lots of free beer and ice cream, and I can normally play 7 sessions and sleep in without using any vacation time but with only the middle day of the tournament available to me without being on vacation, I won’t be able to enjoy the tournament nearly as much as normal.

 I’m sure every person who has an office job feels this way about having weekend games and you would think the retired folks wouldn’t care much whether the tournament is Wed-Sun or Mon-Fri. However, this is clearly not the case as almost every tournament drops off in attendance toward the end – maybe it’s because people don’t like playing on the weekend but maybe it’s just that the masses prefer going at the start of tournaments regardless of what day of the week it falls on or get irritated with their partner and go home early. I bet that if someone made a tournament be Saturday through Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday would be the biggest days. For people who don’t want to play the whole tournament and have flexibility, I think going at the beginning rather than the end is what most people would prefer.

In 2011, the tournament organizers did something that only slightly pissed me off. The tournament ended on Sunday, but the federal holiday was Monday, so out of the 3 day weekend, there was only bridge on 2 of those days.

I really want to boycott this tournament in protest of this schedule that is so anti-anybody who isn’t retired or on summer break. The problem is that most people I would play with are in or near Atlanta and going elsewhere would likely mean a trip to DC for the regional there. Financially, that’s not a smart thing to do but I may do it anyway. Not playing any bridge that week would be fine too, if I had something else going on, which I don't.