Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My motivation has been really lacking in the last couple of weeks, in almost all aspects of life. I briefly entertained the idea of hosting a Christmas party last weekend but could motivate myself to do the work and invite people. I didn't put up a single Christmas decoration for the first time since I've been out of college. I have hardly posted to facebook or twitter since the Phoenix trip, and obviously haven't written much.  I guess it's a sign I've been satisfied. In other news, I figured out today that there are a few pieces of software the IT department lets us upgrade, so I was able to upgrade to IE 10 (from IE 7). That allows me to read bridgewinners.com, but they still won't let us use any other browser.

So, to help prepare for Myrtle Beach starting Thursday, here’s a fairly simple squeeze and endplay from the Christmas Party at the Macon bridge club last week. I was in 3NT as west. I’m having a hard time reconstructing the auction, but I think it started P-1-X-P; 1, so I had a good idea of where the missing honors were.

Dealer: N
Vul: NS


Anyway, north leads a 4th best spade to south’s Q. There are 7 sure tricks, and there is potential for another trick in all suits. At trick 2, I led a diamond to the ace and then the Q, seeing north shed the 2. In with the K, south cleared spades, giving me trick #8 in the process. I discarded a pair of clubs from dummy. Since the DT fell stiff, I would have a 9th trick in diamonds via finesse for the 9 but the suit is blocked (just switch the 8 and 7 and my troubles would be over). Regardless, it’s time to cash hearts. As expected, south discards on the third round so we know south’s distribution: 3-2-5-3. At trick 9, we cash the 4th heart and holding 954  AQ, she has no safe discard. If she discards a club, I play a low club off dummy and the K becomes the 9th trick. If she discards a diamond, I play J and a diamond to her 9 and she is endplayed to give dummy the K at trick 13.

Merry Christmas! And good luck if you’re going to a bridge tournament between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Sean and I will be trying to repeat as winners of the MABC New Year regional in Myrtle Beach.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Interesting Squeeze

I’m on the airplane headed toward Phoenix, not studying system notes as I probably should be, but watching Castle reruns and contemplating a 1NT contract I played at the club Tuesday, how I’m going to spend the next two weekends in GA, and what class I’m going to take in spring semester.

Here’s the bridge deal. First it’s a bidding problem. What do you bid with 8xxx, KTx, Kx, A9xx after partner opens 1D and RHO bids 1S in matchpoints with favorable vulnerability? 1NT looks reasonable and was my action, but I wouldn’t argue with double. Heck, some days at these colors I might even try a pass for penalties. 1NT buys it and my dummy is KJ, A9xx, AQT9x, xx. Best defense will hold this to 7 tricks unless you guess to finesse diamonds for an 8th trick but the defense I got was far less than stellar.


The ST was led and RHO took the AQ9 before shifting to a low club. LHO took my 9 with the 10 and fired a low heart through, the 8 winning the trick in dummy. Now, if diamonds were 4-2, I’d have the rest of the tricks but as implied earlier, LHO had 5 of the suckers and I found this out when I played a diamond to my K.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Assuming either opponent can hold a club stopper, which is likely the case, there’s a double squeeze on the run of the diamonds (a heart was pitched on the third spade), but we kind of have to guess the rounded suit distribution.

LHO is initially squeezed upon cashing the spade.at trick 7 – he had to hold 3 diamonds for sure so either voided himself of clubs to keep a heart stopper or kept honor doubleton of clubs and a stiff heart. That could be difficult to figure out, but it’s a two card difference in the two different holdings.

RHO gets squeezed at trick 9 upon cashing the last good diamond. Before trick 9, dummy had A9x of hearts and Ax of diamonds while declarer has KTx of hearts and Ax of clubs.

If LHO had unguarded hearts, RHO must now keep all his hearts, so the low club will be good at trick 13.

If LHO had unguarded clubs, RHO must keep two clubs so is squeezed out of his heart trick. Now a heart to the K at trick 10 and the ace of clubs at trick 11 will squeeze LHO again in the pointed suits. Dummy pitches behind LHO at trick 11 with AT of hearts and a diamond while LHO has Qx of hearts and the J of diamonds.

If only LHO can guard clubs, there is a simple minor suit squeeze against him. If only RHO can guard clubs, he can’t guard hearts (he would have 10 black cards plus 1 diamond) so there’s a simple red suit squeeze against him.

Whew. I think I got that right.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

As the year comes to a close, I have two big tournaments left on my schedule – 3 days at the Phoenix NABC and a week at the Myrtle Beach regional. It seems like I’ve played a lot of bridge this year, but it's actually not much different from the past years, just was more concentrated in the summer. My total will be 132 sessions over 17 tournaments, 58 club games, with about 450 points so far, pretty much on par with the last couple of years. I have definitely cut back on sectionals, played fewer club games (mostly thanks to my local tennis league being moved from Saturday morning to Thursday night) and played in more high-level events while in the past I played at almost every reasonable opportunity.
2011: 142 sessions in 24 tournaments, 79 club games, 535 MP
2012: 121 sessions in 21 tournaments, 83 club games, 517 MP

This is the second straight year I’ve stayed in Georgia over Thanksgiving, the first time that has happened since high school. It was a much needed break, but I still filled the time with watching lots of football, studying system notes, and doing the final exam and project for my statistics class.
I’ll be playing with another new partner the last 3 days in Phoenix so hopefully that will go well. Come next Monday I’ll be needing another break because I’ve done this somewhat silly thing of taking a red eye flight back Sunday night. Unfortunately, there isn’t much down time until January. Look for some actual bridge articles next week.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Deceptive Plays

Last weekend I enjoyed a couple of sessions with a new partner brad Campbell. Well, 3.25 sessions. Didn't do much in the pair game Saturday and we were in good position to win the Sunday Swiss but two very costly unfortunate things happened at the other table in the penultimate round against the eventual winners so we made the low overalls. This is a cute 3NT contract against a fairly week pair for flight A.

♠ xx
♥ Txx
♦ Jxx
♣ KQJxx

♠ AKx
♥ Jxx
♦ KT9
♣ ATxx

My RHO opened 2♠ and I made a marginal 2NT overcall and Brad made a slightly aggressive but probably normal raise to 3. How would you play on a spade lead?

Unless hearts are blocked (very unlikely), there is no legitimate line to make regardless of the diamond position, so I can play straight up for a diamond finesse and hope they don't figure out (how) to cash their hearts. I think a heart shift should be pretty obvious so I try another (more deceptive) line of play.

I ducked trick 1 and won the spade continuation as part of my plan to encourage them to help me score 2 diamond tricks in addition to my 7 top black tricks. Then to encourage them to not take their heart tricks, I led a club to dummy and then a heart to my J. LHO won the K and having no more spades and not wanting to set up my hearts, led a low diamond to RHO's ace, who then cleared spades.

Now knowing the RHO started w at least 7 hcp plus prob all ably the ♥Q ( because LHO surely wouldn't have resisted leading a heart w ♥AKQ and the ♥A would be too much for a weak 2), the diamond finesse is very unlikely to work. So, I ran clubs. This brought us to a 3 card ending, needing 2 more tricks. Dummy has ♥Tx and a ♦ and I have ♥J of hearts and ♦KT. Now I led another heart, endplaying LHO who came down to ♥A, ♦Qx. If she comes down to ♥Ax and ♦Q, I can drop the Q. She has to discard the ♥A to get out of it. RHO surely came down to ♥Q  ♦xx, and then a diamond through at trick 12 would set the contract.

Of course, I'm also down 1 if RHO leads back a diamond immediately after winning the ace. The defender's whole hands were ♠xx  ♥AKxxx  ♦Qxxx  ♣xx and ♠QJTxxx  ♥Qx  ♦Axx  ♣xx. It wasn't quite the misdefense I had anticipated but it worked out this time.