Hands

Jul 032003
 

None Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: HK

conan
S A Q 10 7 3
H Q 4 3
D A
C A 7 6 4
sasscat
S K 9 8 6
H K 2
D Q 10 5 2
C J 5 2
[W - E] danb
S J 5 2
H J 9 6 5
D 7 6
C K 10 9 3
Maestro
S 4
H A 10 8 7
D K J 9 8 4 3
C Q 8
West
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
North
1 S
2 C
2NT
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1NT
2 D
Pass

 

Today’s bidding is a rarity in itself, placing the maestro in a normal contract after a normal auction. The North/South hands have 26 points but no fit, and the notrump game is a bad proposition that ought to go down on best defense, even on the generous layout.

West opens the defense with the heart king, a reasonable but disastrous choice. The everyday expert would duck, assuring himself seven tricks — three hearts, two diamonds, and two black suit aces — with various opportunities for an eighth. Not the maestro. Gee wins the heart king, killing his last sure entry, unblocks the diamond ace, cashes the heart queen, and leads a third heart.

East wins the jack, surveys the layout, realizes that unless his partner holds the club queen there is no chance to beat the hand, and produces the club king. Gee wins the ace and now has eight top tricks. But hey, what’s the hurry? Maybe he couldn’t kill his own hand, but it’s not too late to kill dummy’s. He leads the spade 10 off the board.

Spade jack from East, low club to queen, West carefully unblocking the jack, and it’s all over. The maestro cashes the long heart and the diamond king, and executes the Miami endplay in diamonds for seven tricks and off 1.

In the post mortem the maestro manfully admitted that “I could have played that hand better.” “How?” one of the spectators replied. “Is there a line for down 2?”

Jun 272003
 

Today is the first anniversary of the Gee Chronicles. Just think, exactly a year since the Maestro underled an AKQ allowing Jx to score for the winning trick in a hopeless contract. How long ago it all seems, and yet how much we all have learned! It seems an opportune time to review some of the more memorable lessons of the Master, which pseudo-Gerard has been kind enough to supply.

 

1. Promote partnership amity. We sometimes forget the importance of a harmonious partnership to bridge success. Gee never does.

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: South
Lead: H2

opp 1
S A K 2
H Q 6 5
D A 7 2
C 9 5 3 2
poor sap
S Q 8 7 5
H A 7 4 3
D 9 5
C Q J 8
[W - E] Maestro
S J 10 6
H K J 9 8 2
D 10 8
C A K 4
opp 2
S 9 4 3
H 10
D K Q J 6 4 3
C 10 7 6

North/South, through bidding that it will be merciful to let the sands of time dissolve, reach a 3NT contract that would be excellent but for the fact that it’s off eight top tricks. Gee opens the heart deuce, his partner wins the heart ace, and…shifts to the club queen! When Gee allows this to hold his partner thinks better of clubs and shifts again, this time to spades. North gratefully wins this and begins to run the diamonds. Gee discards a spade, then the 8 of hearts, then the 9 of hearts, and then, the coup de grace, the king of hearts, conceding the contract and an overtrick into the bargain.

Why, you ask? For the sake of the partnership. The best way to console your partner after he makes two earth-shattering errors in one hand is to make an even bigger one yourself.

 

2. Avoid Sticks and Wheels at all costs. At all costs:

E/W Vul
MPs
Dealer: South
Lead: S5

rubbernecker
S A J 6 3
H J 4 2
D 6 5 2
C 10 7 3
lucky dog 1
S Q 10 8 7 2
H 10 9 6 5 3
D A 10 9
C
[W - E] lucky dog 2
S K 9 5 4
H A 8 7
D Q 4
C A Q J 8
Maestro
S
H K Q
D K J 8 7 3
C K 9 6 5 4 2
West

2 C
Pass
Pass

North

Pass
Pass
Pass

East

4 S
Dbl

South
1 C
5 D
Pass

The maestro, shrewdly realizing that the spade game makes double-dummy, elects to take the unilateral save in 5D. He wins the spade ace, and it looks for all the world like down 5 and Sticks and Wheels. But the maestro executes the winner-on-loser, discarding the heart king and playing another spade, tossing the heart queen. This opens both majors for the defense to tap him, and when the smoke clears he is down that all-important extra trick, for 1400.

Lemma: Always bid your suits in length order, longest first.

 

3. Attend to the Law of Total Tricks.

Both Vul
MPs
Dealer: North
Lead: SQ

thing 1
S K 8 7 5 4
H A 8 7 4
D 9
C A Q 5
why me?
S A 3 2
H K Q 5 2
D 5 4 3 2
C K 2
[W - E] Maestro
S 9 6
H 10 6 3
D A K J 8
C J 8 7 3
thing 2
S Q J 10
H J 9
D Q 10 7 6
C 10 9 6 4
West

Dbl
Pass

North
1 S
3 S
Pass
East
Pass
4 D
Pass
South
2 S
Dbl
Pass

Gee, expecting at least a nine-card fit from his opponents — what business has his partner got doubling with three spades anyway? — takes the vulnerable save against a part-score with four diamonds, doubled with alacrity by T2, scarcely able to believe his good fortune. As it happens good defense puts even 3S down, but how could anyone be expected to know that, or expect good defense? Four diamonds goes for 800 on ordinary declarer play, but under Gee’s sure touch the defense manages two trump, a spade, a heart, and three clubs for 1100.

That it is called the Law of Total Tricks, meaning it applies to both sides, is a more advanced lesson that we may get to in the Chronicles’ second year. The attentive reader may have noted that this hand violates Lesson 2, which itself points to another important rule: sometimes you just have to know when to break the rules.

 

4. Cover an Honor with an Honor.

Both Vul
MPs
Dealer: North
Lead: CA

tyro
S A J
H 8 5 3
D Q 2
C A K J 10 6 5
fire 1
S Q 10
H A K J 4 2
D A 9 4 3
C Q 7
[W - E] fire 2
S 9 6 5 4 3
H 9 7 6
D K 10 7 5
C 8
Maestro
S K 8 7 2
H Q 10
D J 8 6
C 9 4 3 2
West

1 H
3 D
Pass

North

2 C
Pass
Pass

East

2 H
4 H

South
Pass
3 C
Pass

North leads the club ace and shifts to a trump. Declarer wins and plays a low spade to North, who leads another trump. Declarer wins, ruffs a club, and plays another spade. North wins again and returns a club, ruffed by declarer. Low diamond to the king, diamond 10 off the board, and here we are, with the hand nearly an open book. Declarer is 2-5-4-2. If he has only the diamond queen he’s always down. If he has the ace-queen he always makes. If has the ace alone, well, any ordinary player can beat the contract. What is more important is to impress on one’s partner the significance of always covering an honor with an honor.

 

5. Always Lead Fourth Best.

Both Vul
MPs
Dealer: North
Lead: H8

grasshopper
S Q 8 6 5
H K Q 6 5
D 4
C 10 9 8 6
mach 1
S J 10 6 2
H A 7 3
D J 9 7 6 5
C 4
[W - E] mach 2
S A K 9
H 4 2
D A K
C K Q J 7 5 3
Maestro
S 7 4
H J 10 9 8
D Q 10 8 3 2
C A 2
West
Pass
3 C
3NT
North
Pass
Pass
Pass
East
2NT
3 D
Pass
South
Pass
Pass
Pass

East-West arrive at a reasonable but doomed 3NT contract. Gee leads the eight of hearts which is ducked in dummy and won by North’s queen. The club six is returned, to the king and South’s ace. Gee plays a second club which establishes the third and final defensive trick.

Of course this result could have been avoided had North simply returned his partner’s suit at trick two. What North failed to appreciate was Gee’s adherence to the fundamentals of the game, including the “Lead your fourth highest” rule. A simple application of the rule of eleven would have led to the correct defense. Declarer cannot hold a card higher than the eight, therefore Gee must hold the jack, 10, and 9.

Jun 152003
 

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: South
Lead: H8

Maestro
S A J 7 6
H 5
D Q J 8 7 2
C 10 6 2
modaddy
S 10 9 4 3
H 8 3 2
D K 6 3
C A K 7
[W - E] tashi
S K 8 5 2
H A 10 9 7 4
D A 9 4
C 3
woodee
S Q
H K Q J 6
D 10 5
C Q J 9 8 5 4
West

Pass
2 H
Dbl

North

Pass
Pass
Pass

East

1 H
Pass
Pass

South
Pass
Pass
3 C
Pass

 

Geeselle, of WWGD, offers this little lesson on balancing:

Today we find Gee agreeing reluctantly to play with Woodee, whose stats do not meet his customary exacting standards. As Gee will be the very first to tell you, intermediate or even advanced players have a tough time in situations that the maestro dispatches with ease:

I dont care about his stats…… it means nothing [and a good thing too—Ed.]… what means something is that he wrote intermediate…At the first hand that does not come straight out of the book it is a sure loss, because intermediate and even most advanced players don’t know how to.

How to what? In any case, you catch his drift.

Fast forward a few days, to the first hand that does not come straight from the book. Woodee, I think reasonably, opted to pass in first seat. It is 6-4, yes, but also aceless and the lonely lady is of unknown value at this point. He might have bid 2C over 1H on the second round, but opted again to pass. After the single raise by his left hand opponent (2 1/2 QTs but three hearts and dead flat), Woodee carefully weighed the situation. Favorable vulnerability. Their side rated to have approximately half the deck. Could he set 2H? Would 3C put them in much peril? Perhaps these words of the great theorist Mike Lawrence reverberated in his mind:

On those sequences where your opponents have shown a fit and limited values, your attitude toward reopening should range from strongly inclined to obsessive. It is almost inexcusable to allow your opponent to play at the two level when they want to.

Mike Lawrence may be an expert, but there are experts and there are EXPERTs. No sooner had Woodee bid 3C than Gee felt compelled to intercede. “What are you doing partner?” he asked compassionately.

Later on, a spectator, forgetting that the better part of valor is discretion, took a stab at Gee’s question:

Spec #1: it’s called balancing i think
G: another 4 IMPs gone
G: you must be joking?????
Spec #1: joking about what? isn’t that what 3c is?
G:If you dont know what a balancing bid is, dont talk about it

That’s telling him. Gee returned to the table to dismiss poor Woodee, and the specs returned to their customary form:

Spec #2: Not knowing what things are doesn’t stop gee from talking about them
Spec #2: Must have hit his -200 imp limit for the day
Spec #3: yes -32 is enough to make anyone sleepy
Gerard is now a spectator.
Spec #3: very unlucky set
G: no… was not unlucky
Spec #2: How big a gun did they hold on you? :)
Spec #1: so 3c wasn’t a balancing bid? geez i must be more confused than usual
G: he passed twice… come on… be real!
Spec #4: i love this game

Three hearts was the usual contract, in the face of stiff competition in clubs, for off 1. No other pair was doubled in three clubs, understandably at IMPs, and only two were permitted to play in 2H with the N/S cards. So many lessons, so little time.

Jun 082003
 

N/S Vul
IMPs
Dealer: North
Lead: H5

car
S Q 10 8 6 3 2
H Q 8 5
D Q 9 7 3
C
dcorn
S K 4
H A 10 6
D K 10 5 4 2
C Q J 9
[W - E] Maestro
S J 9
H 9 3 2
D 8 6
C 10 8 6 5 4 2
lukeg
S A 7 5
H K J 7 4
D A J
C A K 7 3
West

1 D
3 D
Pass

North
Pass
1 S
Dbl
East
Pass
2 D
Pass
South
1 C
2 H
Pass

 

My logos have fallen into disuse, but I assure you that is strictly a matter of my sloth, not lack of opportunities to use them.

Today, for instance, we have what on the surface is an innocuous hand. At most tables South would open a club, rebid two hearts or 2NT over West’s overcall and North’s spade response, and reach either 3NT or, better, four spades, both cold. At Gee’s table the bidding goes just this way up to the spade response, and then the wheels begin to turn.

Sure, the STCP™ would pass one spade with alacrity. Gee, however, sees a notrump game for the opponents in the offing, shrewdly notes the favorable vulnerability, counts his trumps (yes, there are two, and he’s sure Soloway raised on a doubleton in a hand he read somewhere), recounts his trumps to be sure (still two), and decides to kick up some dust with a two diamond raise.

Dust has a way of settling where you don’t expect it to. South sandbags with a modest two heart rebid, and East, to whom this looks for all the world like a competitive part-score hand, competes to three diamonds. North doubles in a microsecond and it’s sayonara.

David Corn is a noted expert, but it’s tough to show your chops when you don’t have a single entry to dummy. He ducks the first heart lead, wins the second, and plays a third one back. South wins and cashes the two top clubs, North sluffing spades, which is all he has left besides trump. A third club is ruffed small, a spade is returned, and a fourth club is ruffed again small as declarer tosses the spade king. Spade back, ruffed small by declarer, and he makes the trump king and 10 at the end, for down five and a rarely-seen non-vulnerable sticks and wheels.

The cruel irony is that an equally lunatic bid of two clubs by Gee, instead of two diamonds, might get E/W to three clubs doubled, down only two for an excellent score, and the maestro would get to play it himself besides.

“I was just trying to keep them out of game,” says Gee after the hand.

May 232003
 

None Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: H10

drahmi
S A J 4
H K Q 9 7 4 2
D J
C J 9 3
recaptan
S K Q 9 8 3
H J
D K 10 8 7 2
C K 4
[W - E] Maestro
S 7 5
H A 8 6 5
D Q 3
C A Q 7 6 5
fun1
S 10 6 2
H 10 3
D A 9 6 5 4
C 10 8 2
West
1 S
3 D
Pass
North
2 H
Pass
Pass
East
3 C
3NT
South
Pass
Pass

 

The valued correspondent who sent me this hand called it “a candidate for the worst defended and worst played hand EVER!” On the basis of my rather broad Gee experience I would have to disagree: for worst defended, try here; for worst played, well, how about last week’s? But it is certainly distinguished.

The bidding, at least, cannot be faulted, as East/West reach a perfectly normal 3NT, which is stone cold on normal declarer play and defense.

At the table things are a bit different. South leads the heart ten, and dummy hits with a grungy opener but a very useful stiff heart jack. North covers and continues hearts, and Gee ducks the first two rounds, pitching a spade from dummy.

Now the hand is almost an open book. The heart 10 is obviously a doubleton, so Gee has four hearts and at least five clubs for his 3C bid. If he had three spades he would support on the second round at the very latest (yes, I know it’s Gee, but still…), so his 3NT bid makes him probably 2-4-2-5. Four points in the majors, so he needs another eight in the minors to justify his bid. If he has the diamond ace and ace-fifth of clubs it’s hopeless; if he has the diamond queen and AQxxx of clubs, well, it’s still hopeless.

North concludes that he may as well give away a heart trick, so he continues with the heart nine. Gee wins the ace, South and dummy both pitching spades, and is faced with a choice to develop diamonds, with Qx opposite K1087x and six out, or spades, with xx opposite KQ9 and five out, for two or three tricks. What would you do? Me too. That’s why Gee plays a spade to South’s 10 and dummy’s queen.

North needs only to duck to beat the hand, but he wins and clears the hearts, South and dummy both pitching diamonds. Does Gee try to set up a diamond trick, giving him nine if the clubs break? Nah. He runs the clubs, discarding two diamonds from dummy. North pitches a heart, South pitches a diamond, and here’s the end position:

drahmi
S J 4
H 4
D J
C
Dummy
S K 9
H
D K 10
C
[W - E] Maestro
S 7
H
D Q 3
C 6
fun1
S 6
H
D A 9 6
C

 

The maestro has set the table perfectly for the rarely-seen self-pseudo-squeeze. He cashes his last club, South pitches a diamond, and what to do? Being legendary for his attention to spot cards, Gee has of course noted South’s play of the 10 on the first spade. What could it be from but J10xx? And if North had begun with AJx in spades, wouldn’t he have ducked the first round? The choice is clear. Gee discards the 10 of diamonds from dummy. When North discards the diamond jack the position is obvious: he must have begun with AJ tight in diamonds. Gee plays a spade, and finesses the 9. Unlucky again: North produces the jack and cashes the last heart for the setting trick. The maestro picks up a few style points, discarding the spade king from dummy on the heart, setting up North’s last spade for off 2. It’s not every day you make three spade tricks in notrump with AJ4 over KQ98x.

May 152003
 

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: North
Lead: C8

Maestro
S Q 9
H K 9 3 2
D A K Q 10 7 2
C 7
garde
S J 6
H Q 7 5 4
D 9 5 4
C K 9 6 2
[W - E] lemifr
S 10 8 7 3
H
D J 6 3
C Q 10 8 5 4 3
ollozzo
S A K 5 4 2
H A J 10 8 6
D 8
C A J
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

North
1 H
3 C
3 H
5 H
Pass
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
2NT
3 D
4NT
6 H

 

Good things come to those who wait. Actually they don’t usually, but for my Gee-starved readers I’m going to make an exception. Eleven days without a column is inexcusable, I know; but will a stone-perfect 100 G-spot make it up to you? Yeah, I thought so.

Today the maestro opens one heart in first seat, employing a system I’m unfamiliar with, perhaps a futuristic ACOL in which semi-solid six-card minors are conventionally suppressed. South’s 2NT is Jacoby, and after Gee shows a stiff club it is a question of small slam or grand. RKC reveals a missing trump queen, and South apparently bargains for only four hearts because he signs off in a six: if North has five hearts then the grand is surely odds-on. Even on the layout it has chances, and makes if declarer guesses trump.

You might think six hearts is scarcely a test for the maestro, but there you would be wrong. Gee wins the club lead and promptly misguesses trump by playing a heart to the king. East shows out, discarding a club. Still no way to go down, right? Float the trump 9 to West. If he wins the queen, claim; if he ducks, play another round to the ace, ruff a club, play diamonds, and claim.

You have underestimated the maestro again. He plays a second round of trump to the ace, and now, crucially, starts the diamonds. All follow on the first round. All follow on the second round. All follow on the third round. Several 100% lines are still available. Lead a trump. Ruff a diamond in hand and lead a trump. Lead a spade to hand and lead a trump (not quite 100%). But the zero percent line is also available. Gee leads a fourth round of diamonds, discarding a spade, with the obvious result.

For Gee took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

May 042003
 

Both Vul
MPs
Dealer: East
Lead: CJ

pama
S 10 8
H 8 4
D 8 6 5 3 2
C 9 8 7 6
sdivins
S K J 9 6
H Q J 6 3
D K J 4
C K 3
[W - E] crm
S Q 5 4 2
H A K
D Q
C A Q 10 5 4 2
Maestro
S A 7 3
H 10 9 7 5 2
D A 10 9 7
C J
West

1 H
4 S
5 C
Pass

North

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

East
1 C
1 S
4NT
5 S
Pass
South
Pass
Pass
Pass
Dbl

 

After a year of following Gerard I still slight some of his talents. Mostly we see him at IMPs; today, a little lesson in matchpoint strategy.

East/West reach five spades after a rather inelegant auction, which is generally how one reaches five of a major. It’s a nice hand for fourth-suit forcing. A possible auction over one spade might be two diamonds (forcing to game) — two hearts — three spades (showing four-card support) — four clubs — four spades (no diamond stop to cue bid) — all pass. (I should note that 3NT is the best contract, and that no table produced this auction or anything like it.)

However, West blasts to four spades over one spade, and East, with his maximum, Blackwoods and signs off in five spades when he finds out they’re off two aces.

Matters are in the maestro’s capable hands, and now matchpoint strategy enters the picture. The STCP™ would reason that if five spades is down it’s probably a good score anyway. But there are good scores, and there are Gee scores. Partner’s silence probably indicates a defensive trick, after all; and why score 90 when 100 is available? Gee doubles, and now it’s time to lead.

He knows they’re off the two aces he holds. He also knows they have a lot of points or they wouldn’t be investigating slam. What can his partner have? Figure a queen at most. West is marked for at least four spades and four hearts. East failed to raise hearts, indicating three or fewer, but probably not extreme shortness, otherwise he wouldn’t have been interested in slam, fearing wasted values in the heart suit. So unless partner has a red king, there are two chances to beat four hearts. Best is to lead a heart, playing partner for a stiff. Second best is to underlead the diamond ace, playing for something like KJx on the board opposite two small, and putting declarer to a tough guess.

As it happens, a heart lead doesn’t work. At the table Gee led the club jack, grabbed the trump ace on the first round, cashed the diamond ace, and shifted to hearts. That doesn’t work either.

Apr 282003
 

Both Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: DJ

Maestro
S K Q 9 5
H 6
D 8 4 2
C K Q 10 9 4
lil sister
S 7 4 3 2
H Q 10 5
D K 10 7 5
C J 7
[W - E] ttsum
S 10 6
H A K 8 7 4 2
D A Q 9 3
C 2
charlie-nt
S A J 8
H J 9 3
D J 6
C A 8 6 5 3
West
Pass
4 H
North
Pass
Pass
East
3 H
Pass
South
Pass
Pass

 

Today’s hand has nothing of interest in the play and little in the bidding. I wouldn’t open three hearts third-seat with East’s hand at any vulnerability, but I suppose I can understand the rationale. It helps to shut out the spades, and since par on the hand is four spades or five clubs down one, you can’t argue with the results. I wouldn’t raise to game with West’s hand either, but I guess that’s what you do if you know your partner bids that way.

There is, however, the post mortem. “Rumpler” and “gustav” appear from the gallery to engage Gee in what the diplomats call “a frank exchange of opinions.”

G: he could have made 11 tricks
G: but not after pulling all the trumps
lil sister: true
gustav: if he was off 2 spades and a club off the top, how can he make 5
Rumpler: there were ten tricks – no more, no less, on any lead, any play, and defense. where the heck does anyone see 11???
G: he could ruff one of our top clubs
lil sister: i counted 10 but that doesn’t mean anything
gustav: can’t make 11 with a crowbar
G: I repeat he could get 11 tricks
Rumpler: he has 6 H’s and 4 D’s – that is 10… period. one does not gain tricks by ruffing in the long trump hand… any novice knows that
lil sister: lets not argue… lets just have a good time
Charlie_nt: not always
Rumpler: ok gerard… teach me… HOW could he get 11?
G: typical case of bad players who make strong statements about what they dont know and become insulting to prove they are right! LOL
Rumpler: lol my tuchus… prove you can find an 11th trick
G: i don’t have to prove you anything
Rumpler: then don’t make silly statements or goofy post mortems
G: I am not paid to show you how to make 11
Rumpler: i will pay you $100 to show me an 11th trick
G: you are soooo rude and insulting!!! who do you think you are?
Rumpler: somebody who can count
G: LOL… no you can’t
Charlie_nt: ruffing in the long hand is a very useful technique
G: doesn’t matter, Charlie.. they think by being rude and arrogant they will win… has nothing to do with bridge
Rumpler: yeh – if you can ruff enough times to shorten yourself if reversing the dummy — otherwise…
Charlie_nt: or cross-ruff
Rumpler: i offered you $100 to show me how you can make an 11th trick as YOU said, put up or shut up gerard
G: you shut up, mister!!!!
Rumpler: you are a fraud

$100? I’ll go one better than that. Hell, I’ll go nine better. I’m offering $1,000, to Gerard or anyone else, for a line that produces 11 tricks. (I will not accept cooperative lines, such as North and South both tossing all of their spades.)

Hey, I promised a contest. I didn’t promise a winner.

Apr 202003
 

N/S Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: S9

honeydo
S A K 8 6
H J 5 3
D J
C Q 9 8 6 2
churford
S 9 4
H 10 7 2
D 9 5 4 3
C J 10 5 3
[W - E] johnstrod
S 7 3 2
H 6 4
D K Q 10 8 7 2
C K 7
Maestro
S Q J 10 5
H A K Q 9 8
D A 6
C A 4
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

North

2 D
3 H
4 S
6 H

East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
2 C
2 H
4 H
5 C
Pass

 

Today Gee and partner reach a normal heart slam after a not half-bad auction, and West leads the nine of spades, won by Gee in hand with the queen.

Well now. You might just play the diamond ace, ruff a diamond small, assuming that if either defender had nine diamonds he might have been heard from, play the jack of trumps, and claim 12 tricks when both defenders followed. Since this loses only to all five trumps with West, for about 95%, you might just do this. But ask yourself: why do I write about Gerard and not about you instead?

The maestro first plays a trump to the jack. He plays another trump back to the queen. He cashes the ace of diamonds: it’s still not too late to ruff a diamond, cross back to hand with the ace of clubs (or even a spade, since they break), and claim.

He now leads a low club! Dummy’s queen loses to East’s king, and here’s the position:

honeydo
S A K 8
H 3
D
C 9 8 6 2
churford
S 4
H 10
D 9 5 4
C J 10 5
[W - E] johnstrod
S 7 3
H
D K Q 10 8 7
C 7
Maestro
S J 10 5
H A K 9
D 6
C A

The hand, amazingly, is still stone cold. If East returns a spade (as he probably should, since it’s just possible West is stiff and has a trump left) Gee can win in hand, ruff a diamond — yes, yes, bear with me here — and cross back to hand with the ace of clubs to pull the last trump. A diamond of course produces the same result. In fact East returned a club, which is no better. Gee can win in hand, pull the last trump, and set up the fifth club in dummy, unblocking his jack and 10 of spades under the ace and king, for his twelfth trick. At last the STCP™ can see the point of the maestro’s far-sighted play of winning the first spade in hand.

Coda

Gee wins the club return with the ace, pulls the last trump, and plays the five of spades to the ace, leaving himself one entry short.

Apr 142003
 

Today, a special treat: a seminar from the maestro on short suit game tries. Why infer lessons from hand play when you can get them direct? I pause only to note Gee’s remarkable ability to employ both short- and long-suit game tries, depending on his holding. (A closely related matter has been previously discussed.) And now I yield the floor.

G: yesterday I began explaining what help suit game try was
G: but got interrupted by someone who thought it was better to make jokes than to be respectful of you people
G: so i start it again today
Student: Someone had a good idea, hide the table Gerard that way jokers stay out
G: when you play, you hear constantly about help suit game try, short suit game try and long suit game try
G: what is it?
G: that’s what I will cover for you now
G: those who heard the beginning yesterday, I am sorry, but you will hear it a second time now
G: often you are in a situation such that you are not sure if you can play game or not
G: example:
G: you are sitting with 16 points
G: you open 1S, your partner responds 2S
G: you have game or not?
G: who knows
G: your partner shows 6-9 points traditionally
Student: well, we assume pard doesn’t have 10 points
G: and if you add your 16 points to that
G: you have a total of between 22 and 25 points
G: with 22 points, there is no game
G: with 25 there maybe a game
G: and that’s what you want to find out
G: most of the time though
G: you can use help suit game try
G: to figure that out
G: if you have the feeling that you are only 1 trick away from making game
Student: wait, how do you know if you have that feeling?
G: would be a pity not to end in game
G: card distribution
G: you have 15 points, in the example I gave earlier
G: in this case, it would suffice that you know that your pd has 9 points to add up to 25 points and play in game
G: but…
G: what if his 9 points are not placed correctly and your hands do not mesh well
G: you might end up going down in 4S
G: and that’s what you want to avoid
G: the old way was
G: you open 1s, partner bids 2s, you rebid 3s
G: that was asking your partner to bid 4S with 9 points and pass with less
G: in modern bridge, that method is not the best
G: you use help suit game try
G: and that will cover 2 things
G: one the point count and two the cards distribution
G: the idea is to find a hidden trick
G: what’s a hidden trick?
G: it’s a trick you might or might not make
G: like Kx or Qx
Student: right, that’s when the opps have 9-card fit
G: Kx may make if the K is not in from of the A
G: same with Qx
G: if opps cards are placed in a favorable way, you may make the Q
G: but it seldom happens so…
G: what you want to know is if partner has the other honor
G: if you have Qx in your hand and partner has Kx…
G: that’s a sure trick
G: which you did not know you had
G: and that’s what the “help suit” comes from
G: you say to your pd you have the K or the Q
G: and ask your partner if he/she has the other one
G: example
G: 1S-2S
G: 3C (I have K (or Q) of club… do you have the other one?
G: if yes, your partner can go to 4S safely
G: you will most likely make the contract
G: if your partner does not have the missing K or Q
G: then he has to answer negatively
G: and there are several ways to answer negatively
G: the first way… is to simply rebid spade
G: like in 1S-2S
G: 3C-3S
G: that means… not only I do not have the missing K or Q but I don’t have anything else to allow you to think we can make game
G: now…
G: if you do not have the specific card asked for in that specific suit
G: and the top of your range
G: then you can, maybe show a suit where you have a possible hidden trick
G: example
G: 1S-2S; 3C-3D
G: 3D means:
G: I do not have the missing K or Q of club but I have top of my range AND also either the K or Q of D
G: and is asking the 1S bidder if he has the other cad
Student: what if you have the ace in the clubs suit?
G: I’ll get there in a second
Student: ok
G: if the 1S bidder has the other card, he can safely bid 4S knowing his partner has 9 points and a hidden trick… unhidden
G: that contract of 4S will make
G: now
G: let’s suppose the 1S bidder does not have the other card
G: he has in turn to make a negative response
G: and it works the exact same way over again
G: 1S-2S; 3C-3D; 3H
Student: what if you have 18 points?
G: then you do not have the problem anymore
Student: 18+6 = 24?
G: you always have 24 points at least
Student: how do you know if you have enough for game?
G: same method will work
G: but what may be different is the interpretation of pd’s response to the help suit game try
G: to a neg response by the partner, you can then bid 3NT, showing a strong hand
Student: we’ll play 3nt?
G: 1S-2S; 3C-3S; 3NT
Student: ok so what if you’re in 3nt and pard only has 6 points?
G: if partner does not have 7+, he will pass
G: else bid 4S
Student: pass 3nt?
G: with 18 points, 3NT is likely to make
G: you asked earlier
G: what about aces
G: and I will add Jacks
G: do they count?
G: my answer is NO
G: they do not count
Student: G, what if they lead the suit that i need help in at 3nt?
G: first of all
Student: won’t i be down like the Titanic?
G: no, because you do not use the same kind of HSGT
G: if you intend to play in NT, you use Long Suit game try
G: if you intend to play in a suit contract you use Short Suit game try
G: the idea being that you do not want to be ruffed in that suit if you plan on playing in a suit contract
G: and you do not want to be shortened too much in that suit if you plan to play in NT
G: 17+
Student: pard will pass with 6 opps will double and i’m down 500?
G: in what case Paxman?
G: you have 18 points and your pd has 6 points?
Student: 1s-2s-3c-3s-3n-x they lead a club
Student: 18 + 6 = 24 and we’ve identified weakness in club suit
G: may happen, yes
Student: maybe if we don’t alert it they won’t figure out to lead a club?
G: this is a game, Paxman
G: things dont always live up to your expectations
G: there are cases where you go down in 3NT with 18 points
G: 28 points
G: happened this morning
G: there are always extreme cases
G: that’s why it is a game
G: but you can’t fix all the cases
G: look at it this way
G: if you play 20 hands
G: and you have 1 bad hand because of an extreme case
G: first… others will have the same problem
G: that hand may not be that bad afterall
G: ok
G: go back to your example
G: 1S-2S: 3C-3S
G: here you have 18 points
G: more exactly, suppose that here you have 18 points
G: your partner has 6 points
G: ok
G: now let’s go back to your other question
G: Aces (and Jacks)
G: your aces have already been counted as tricks
G: can’t count them twice
G: your jacks can not make a trick in a suit contact other than by a miracle
G: in NT, on the other hand, the J are useful
G: but, more to prevent opps from running the suit than as a HELP to find a hidden trick
G: Js are used to stop a running suit by the opps most frequently
G: aces are already counted
G: so, the only 2 honors that are of interest in Help Suit Game Try,
G: Short and Long are actually the K and the Q
G: so, the only difference between LSGT and SSGT is the length of the suit that the asker has
G: that suit should not be anymore than 3 cards
Student: how long does it have to be for LSGT?
G: for try in suit contract
G: and minimum 4 cards in LSGT
Student: what if you have xxxx in clubs? couldn’t you use HSGT?
G: for NT contracts
Student: why be in NT when we’ve found 8-card major fit?
G: no… to ask for help in a suit
G: you tell your partner you have either K or Q in that suit
G: planning to play in NT, the minimum you should have in the suit you need
help is Qxxx
Student: well, i guess i see, but i sure as heck don’t want to play 3nt
Student: with an 8 card major fit
Student: my mother raised me better than that
G: the partner does not need 4 cards
G: only the one who asks does
G: think
G: you have 4 cards in the suit
G: your partner has a singleton in the suit
G: that’s 5 cards
G: you are safe because othe opps can never have more than 8 cards
Student: what if they’re all on one side?
G: that’s the worst possible situation
G: well, you would have heard the opps bidding
Student: if pard has one i want to play in a suit so i can ruff my losers?
Student: not if they have no points
G: we talked about the same thing yesterday in the case of HSGT for a suit contract
G: you have to know where you want to play
G: in an auction like 1c-1S; 2S-3D
Student: well, for my money, i ain’t playing 3nt with a spade fit
G: do you want to be in NT or in S?
Student: uh, spades?
G: sure
Student: right
G: so you ask 3D with a 3 or less D suit and containing the K or the Q
G: else.. don’t ask
Student: what if you have xxxx in diamonds and want help?
Student: you know, like 4 losers, like down 1?
G: 3D is short suit help try
Student: but what if i don’t HAVE a short suit
G: then you have to use other methods
G: not Help suit game try
Student: any examples?
G: we are dealing with HSGT subject now
G: the other methods we can see in other workshops
G: but let’s do 1 subject at a time
G: now
G: what do we do with this auction?
G: 1S-2S: 3S
G: what would be 3S?
G: there is no agreement
G: it’s purely quantiative
G: I have 18 points, no Q nor K in a short suit
G: do you have 7+ or not
G: sorry 15 points
Student: 18 or 16?
G: 16+
G: 16-19
Student: what about 17?
G: in this case 19 would be too much… I typed that too fast
G: you would use another method with 19points
Student: such as?
G: with 19 points?’
Student: yep
G: calculate and tell me what to bid
G: 1S-2S you have Q9
G: partner has 6
G: think you have a game
G: there
G: so what would you bid?
G: 1S-2S: ?
G: 4S
Student: game?
G: right?
Student: sure
G: if you attend my classes on captain/crew, you would learn a lot about what to bid in these cases
G: and similar ones that come up frequently
Student: is that free too?
G: no… those are paying
G: anybody had questions?
Student: i still don’t understand that hand QJT9xxx where you preempt 3s, and ended up in 6S X
Student: i would think you are crew and not captain
Student: how much is cap/crew seminar
G: you can’t think… you know or you dont know… if you don’t know, come to the seminar or buy Bridge is a Conversation
G: 3 classes $10 per class
Student: i’m kind of tapped out this month
G: i played last night with a student against Dcorn and beat him
G: my student is only an intermediate/adv player… cobra4
G: only because of captain/crew stuff
G: cobra4 was my student and partner for the game
G: over 2 hours
G: and they could not get us
Student: is that better for your stat?
G: yes, but who cares??
Student: about stats?
Student: i clicked on you, your stats aren’t there
G: they are never there, never were and never will :)
G: if there is a subject you would like to treat, please let me know and we will do it
Student: i am interested in squeeze plays and coups

(Seminar Credit: Vulture)