Monday, January 21, 2013

Bridge Big Squeeze



So, I’ve been playing on bridgebig.com a good bit lately – that new site where you play anonymously for money and the website takes 10% or so of the entry fees. It doesn’t seem to be gaining much popularity, especially not in the US. It’s a good idea in theory and I wish it would gain popularity. It seems that at most there are maybe 30 players online and it pretty much all ends around 7pm because most of the players on there are European.

One of the main problems with the setup is that there is a lack of agreements. I mean, there’s a convention card but it is missing a lot of detail that would even be on a regular ACBL convention card, like whether systems are on when they overcall over a 1NT opening and what continuations are over the 1M-2NT as a limit+ raise.

On this deal from a short matchpoint game, I had couldn’t figure out what my partner was doing after I opened 1NT. He has just a standard transfer and bid 3NT hand. Then if I correct to 4, you might consider making a slam try. However, he transferred to hearts and then bid 2. When I raised spades, he bid 3NT. When I corrected that to 4, he bid 4NT. Did he misclick and intend to Stayman instead of transfer? Did he misclick and intend to bit 2NT instead of 2? Did he decide his hand is worth a slam try with a 5-3 heart fit but not with a 4-4 spade fit? I didn’t know what he was doing so I passed 4NT. It’s matchpoints anyway, so I can just play it well and get a top that way. By the way, even though the tournaments are small, the “field” still has 20-30 results. I’m not sure where they get the deals and results to matchpoint against – maybe from other tournaments or from computer simulations.
Dealer: S
Vul: NS
North
A62
K7643
K95
AT

West
J73
QJ98
QJ6
864
East
84
T
87432
KJ932

South
KQT95
A52
AT
Q75


North
East
South
West
1
1
1NT
2
3NT
Pass
Pass
Pass




Since hearts split badly, 5 was the limit is hearts so I needed to make only 5NT to get a near top. However, I didn’t find out the heart split until trick 12 so I put a lot of effort into making 6. It turns out there’s a pretty simple squeeze against west. West led a club, east won the K and returned a club. I won that, ran spades, pitching 2 spades from dummy. I played the K, A, Q, pitching another heart. I was down to A52 in hand and K7 9. West could not hold both a diamond and heart stopper so I made 6 for 97% of the matchpoints. The only higher score was 5X -5.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2012 bridge recap


2012 ended on a crazy hot streak with amazing showings at the Charlotte sectional, D7 NAP finals, and Charleston regional. The 2 tournaments I played with Alli, Gatlinburg and Seaside, were also fantastic. I plan to repeat all those performances in 2013 (except Charlotte will likely be skipped, and instead of Charleston, it’ll be Myrtle Beach). In all, I went to 21 tournaments, played 121 sessions, and spent 50 nights in hotels for those tournaments.

Alli never got around to learning canapĂ© even though she said she would learn it and play it with me. Sean and I started playing a modified Fantunes system in November and results are better than ever. I don’t believe it’s a main cause of the good scores but think luck, more experience, and better concentration have played a much bigger role in that. I can’t deny that there definitely is a correlation between switching to the more natural system and achieving better results.

So where am I going in 2013? While I am not currently eager to play much bridge, I’m sure I will be and it’s about that time to plan out yearly vacation. I am determined to cut out some of the sectionals I have been going to, especially during football season, and hopefully I'll have as good an excuse for not playing bridge as I did in 2008 when I attended only 11 tournaments. My tentative calendar of bridge tournaments includes about 115 sessions, trips to all 3 NABCs, 8 regionals, and 8 sectionals (2 of the sectionals are local, 2 are for GNT/NAP, and 3 are Atlanta). The only new destination is Phoenix for the fall NABC. I plan to return to Santa Clara and Seaside, lovely places on the west coast that I enjoyed in 2012, for 3-4 days each, plus all the D7 regionals and the Washington DC regional for all of the July 4 week.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Winning Charleston!

I hope this awesome feeling of winning an entire regional never gets old. Last week, Sean and I had one of the most awesome regionals. We totaled 106 points in less than 1/3 of the tournament (we played 11+ out of 19 sessions) and very nearly won the open pairs 3 days in a row. Winter, my dog, would have really complained if we played mornings because that was her main time to run and play and get out of the hotel. Here's the official masterpoint list.

On the 3rd day of open pairs, after having won the first 3, we posted a 65.6% in the afternoon and there was much buzz going on about us getting the hat trick. Has this been done before? Several people recalled back to back and things like 2 firsts and a third but not 3 first place finishes in a row. However, our 55.8% in the evening wasn’t quite good enough. Once that that streak was over, we switched to teams. Barry Harper and Fay Teal accomplished the 1-1-2 feat in this tournament as well, winning the 2 open pair games we did not play in, although they had a low overall in the middle of that.

We cruised through the first 3 rounds of the Sun-Mon bracket 1 KO with Spencer and Andrew Hurd to face the Randy-Kay Joyce, Tom Rutledge-Bill Wisdom, Ellen Allen-Richard Guarneri in the final. Up 20 at the half and having gone down in a low percentage but makeable 4 and having 8 fairly flat boards in the 2nd half, Sean faced this problem (hands rotated to make Sean south).

Dealer: S
Vul: NS
Asbury
AJx
JTx
AQTx
Kxx



Gannon
KQx
Q
KJxxxx
A8x

South
West
North
East


1
1
2
4


5
Pass
6
Pass


Pass
Pass







1 is a variation of Fantunes – 4+ diamonds and 14+ hcp unless 4441, in which case it could be as light as 11. I think that makes my raise to 6 appropriate. Sean could easily be void of hearts or have the Q instead of Q, making 6 cold.

West led the K and shifted to the Q. Sean won the K, ran 6 diamonds and 3 spades, coming to this ending with the last spade to be played.

Dealer: E
Vul: EW
North
A
J
x
West
A
JT
East
x
x
x
South
J
A8
West was caught in a criss cross squeeze – he must hold the A to prevent dummy’s J from being good but parting with a club allows Sean to cross back to the A and cash the 8 at trick 13. At the other table, they stopped in game so 25 imps were at stake here and our margin of victory was 15.