1100 Collection

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.

Feb 132003
 

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: S7

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

Pass
Pass

North

Pass
Pass

East
2 S
Dbl
South
3 C
Pass

 

Let’s say you hear a first-seat 2S opener, and you hold 15 points, 3 aces, a double stopper in spades, and your long suit, clubs, is 10xxxx.

2NT? That’s for STCPs™. The winning bid is 3C! This is passed by a startled West and unhappy North around to East, who makes a Bones reopening double with no extra values whatsoever. Reopening Bones, in this auction, instructs partner to bid with a long suit and no defense, and pass otherwise. West, whose long suit happens to be clubs, makes one of the world’s more obvious penalty passes, and here we are.

Even so, it looks worse than it is. With Qx onside in hearts and a spade lead an ordinary declarer will have trouble taking fewer than six tricks, for -500, an ordinary disaster. Gee, however, is no ordinary declarer.

The opening spade lead is ducked to Gee’s queen, and he promptly leads a trump. East wins the 9 and continues spades. Gee wins the spade ace for his second trick and plays another trump. West proceeds to draw trump. East tosses the diamond 3, showing a diamond preference, and three spades; Gee throws a spade and three diamonds from dummy.

West now shifts to the king of diamonds, taken by Gee with the ace. Three tricks for declarer. The black suits are known. West has five red cards and East has six. How are the suits laid out?

The diamond preference indicates at least the queen, probably the jack as well. (West might also have led diamonds holding KQJ tight.) West therefore holds either the stiff king or KJ. If KJ, hearts are 3-3, and East likely has the queen. (Otherwise he opened 2S unfavorable, and doubled 3C, with KJ10xxx xxx Qxx x. Bones, but still.) In any case there is no choice about how to play the hearts. Lead to the king and finesse the jack.

Gee diagnoses matters correctly, however, and places West with the stiff king, leaving East with two hearts. Now it’s a guess: if East’s hearts are Qx, declarer must finesse. But if they’re 10x, he must play the ace and the jack, pinning the 10. Well, I need not tell you which line our unlucky hero chose. It is true that if the pinning play fails you go down five instead of four on the finesse (West would be forced to lead another heart back eventually, allowing declarer to make two heart tricks.) It is true that if the hearts do happen to be 3-3 the pinning play cannot succeed. It is true that Gee’s line requires East to have made a reopening Bones double with KJ10xxx 10x QJxx x. And yet, so unlucky.

Oct 282002
 

None Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: D10

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

Dbl

North

Pass

East
2NT
Pass
South
3 D
Pass

 

Today Gee sits South and hears a first-hand 2NT opener to his right. In a red suit his hand can be expected to take approximately three tricks. Applying the rule of six, which states that one should always preempt six tricks above expectation at equal vulnerability (seven favorable, five unfavorable), Gee accordingly bids 3D, showing diamonds and another. STCPs™ should note that this is simply the old 2-3-4 rule of preempts, adjusted for expert play.

West doubles, showing cards and an interest in penalty — it would be unfair to call it Bones when he knows that E/W have at least three-fourths of the deck — and North, the long-suffering Mini-Gee, passes. It looks to the casual observer like he should take the logo save; three hearts goes for a mere 800 on best play. But Mini realizes that in hearts he, not Gee, would be declarer, and the three-trick expert adjustment would no longer apply. (Students of Gee, as opposed to Gee himself, are entitled to a one- or two-trick adjustment at most.) Under the circumstances he has no choice but to pass.

East is delighted to leave in the double with his trump stack, and West leads the D10, ducked to Gee’s jack. One trick for declarer. Gee leads a spade, won by East, who returns another spade, pumping the chump. Two tricks for declarer. Gee switches to the HQ now, too late. East wins the HK, cashes the two top trumps, and plays a third round of spades. Gee discards a club, which doesn’t help. Club ace and another club to Gee’s CK. Three tricks for declarer. Another heart to West’s HA. West cashes clubs, and Gee ruffs in with the DQ for his fourth, and last, trick.

Of course it is only fair to note that had Mini-Gee shown up with a stone yarborough, instead of the SJ, slam in spades or notrump would be cold for E/W, and sticks and wheels would be a mere setback instead of a calamity. In fact six spades is an excellent contract, going down only because of the bad trump break and the offside CK. And how could our hero be expected to foresee that?

Sep 262002
 

Both Vul
IMPs
Dealer: North
Lead: HK

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

Pass
Pass
Pass

North
Pass
1NT
Pass
Pass
East
Pass
Pass
Dbl
South
1 S
2 S
Pass

 

Today we have a rarity in the Chronicles, a normal auction. Gee’s hand is not nearly as bad as some that are opened routinely by experts these days, yesterday’s 1D for instance, and in third seat opening 1S mandatory. North’s 1NT is absolutely standard, as is Gee’s 2S reply. East makes a thin but plausible balancing double vulnerable; E/W could easily have a nine-card fit somewhere. Admittedly West’s penalty pass has a faint hint of Bones Principle about it. Still, it wasn’t alerted, as it must be in that case, and 2S seems a pretty big favorite to go down at least 1.

One can certainly envision this auction at another table. Then there’s the play.

West leads the HK, best for the defense, and continues hearts to East’s ace. A third round of hearts is led, and Gee makes the expert loser-on-loser play of discarding his stiff club, preserving trump control in dummy to ruff the sixth round of hearts. (West also sluffs a club.)

East shrugs and leads another heart. Gee with admirable consistency discards a diamond. (The whole obstinate line markedly resembles the 2HX hand from last week on which Gee achieved sticks and wheels in defiance of any rational expectation. A close comparison of the two will reward the reader.) A club shift brings another small diamond from Gee, as West wins the CA. She shifts to diamonds, East winning DA. Six tricks are in for the defense and no trump have been pulled.

East leads another diamond, and finally, finally Gee gets in with the DK. His low trump is ducked around to East’s S7, and Gee must still lose two more trump tricks to West’s KJx for sticks and wheels. So it turns out that Bones didn’t have very long to wait after all. Which is nice.

Sep 202002
 

None Vul
IMPs
Dealer: South
Lead: SA

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

Pass
Pass
Pass

North

1 C
Pass
Pass

East

1 S
Dbl

South
Pass
2 H
Pass

 

Well, it’s been a while.

At first glance it appears that Gee, sitting South, has a couple of alternatives after his partner opens a third-hand 1C and East overcalls 1S. An STCP™ might consider a negative double (pass is a bit chicken, especially non-vulnerable) but experts know that a negative double is always wrong with a five-card major. Of course in this case N/S miss their nine-card diamond fit, but no methods, no matter how sophisticated, can cover all contingencies. Still, it’s too good a hand to pass, so what’s left but 2H? Gee accordingly bids it. This is passed back to East, who doubles for takeout, and West is more than happy to leave it in.

2HX looks to be down 2, but some declarers just can’t catch a break. The defense opens with three rounds of spades, Gee discarding a club on the third round to minimize communication with dummy. The club shift is ruffed, and Gee plays a low trump to the HQ, which holds. Two tricks in, trump ace in hand, and yet it is still possible to go down 5!

The first key play is another trump, on which West shows out, discarding a club. Gee goes up with the ace, leaving West with K107 of trump over declarer’s J9, and leads a diamond, finessing the 10. East wins the DJ and and plays a spade. At this point South can still scramble a trick or two by discarding diamonds, but Gee ruffs with the H9. West overruffs with H10, pulls declarer’s last trump, and the defense cashes four black suit tricks and the long trump. 1100.

Gee manfully shoulders responsibility for the result in the post mortem.

Spec #1: EW makes 4H!!!
Spec #1: stix and wheeeeeeeels
Spec #2: oh well only 1.6 imps
Spec #2: 12.6
Spec #3: kaboom
G: I am not playing well any more
Spec #1: not playing well?????
Spec #3: go figure
Spec #4: any more?
Spec #5: now that was dbl dummy
G: let’s make this our last ok?
Spec #6: g-man strikes again
Spec #1: it takes great effort to bid that 2H
Spec #2: the operative words “not playing well”
johnjay: ok
Spec #7: the bid was ok then???????
Spec #4: sounds like
Spec #8: yes, but the play wasn’t

I kind of missed the logo. Didn’t you?

Aug 122002
 

None Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: D8

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

1 H
3 C
4 H
Pass

North

Dbl
3 S
Dbl

East
1 D
Rdbl
4 D
Pass
South
Pass
2 S
Pass
Pass

 

In an earlier installment we had a demonstration of how to get tapped in a 5-3 fit. Today we have another rare variation: getting tapped by discarding your stopper in the suit.

East’s redouble is support, showing exactly three hearts; and South’s jump to 2S is preemptive. North raises to 3S over Gee’s 3C, and East rebids his diamonds at the four-level. 4D makes without any trouble, except on an unlikely club lead, but Gee, aware of his sure touch in Moysians, corrects to 4H. The spade game also makes, extremely luckily, for N/S, with the trump and diamond finesses both on; but North wisely opts for the certain plus by doubling.

North leads the D8, best for the defense, and here we should pause to consider how the play might proceed in a parallel universe of accurate declaring. The bidding and opening lead indicate that North is 4-4-2-3 with all three aces. Declarer plays three rounds of diamonds, discarding a spade and club. North’s best play is to discard a spade on the third round, retaining trump control. A fourth round of diamonds is ruffed by South and overruffed by declarer with the 10. North must refuse to overruff and discard a club. Now South plays a heart to dummy, ducked by North, and a fifth round of diamonds, which South can no longer ruff, discarding a club. North ruffs in and plays a low heart back, but eventually is endplayed in the black suits for down 1. (Update: My original analysis was wrong. Thanks to Ira Chorush for this improved version.)

In the actual universe the play goes somewhat differently. Gee wins in dummy and plays two rounds of trump ending in dummy, North correctly ducking. Now Gee shifts to diamonds. He discards a spade on the first round. He discards a spade on the second round. North ruffs in, cashes the trump ace, cashes the SA, dropping Gee’s now-bare SK, and leads another spade. Gee could hold it to down 4 by ruffing the fourth round of spades, and leading a low club, forcing North to concede a club trick. Instead he ruffs immediately and leads a club into North’s tenace. Down 5, not vulnerable. And you know what that means.

Aug 082002
 

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: South
Lead: D5

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

Pass
Pass

North

2NT
Pass

East

3 S
Pass

South
Pass
Dbl

 

The Bones Principle, as enumerated by its inventor, runs as follows: “When defending versus Gee, if he is to play the hand, wait until he stops bidding; then, no matter your hand or the auction, double for penalties. It will be the winning action in about 90% of the cases.” However, he also carefully notes that the Principle “is more aptly applied to those hands where, if you were to look at your hand and the auction, you would never double against an advanced declarer.”

With these discriminations in mind, let us consider South’s double of Gee’s 3S bid in today’s auction. (I know it’s my duty to consider the 3S bid itself — red vs. white, six-bagger to the QJ9, South passed making slam unlikely, and hey wait! isn’t that a four-card outside suit? — but I just don’t have the heart today. Sorry.) Is the double an application of the Bones Principle? Yes and no. On the one hand, South waited until Gee was finished bidding, assured himself that Gee would declare, and doubled. On the other hand, with South’s holding, opposite a 2NT opener, he is assured of a good-sized penalty even with Soloway declaring.

To be scrupulous, then, what we have is an application of what I would call Bones’ Lemma: If Gee has finished bidding and is to declare, and you expect to defeat the hand regardless, then double emphatically.

A casual inspection indicates three hearts, a diamond, two clubs and a trump for the defense, for 800. One line, and one line alone, yields Sticks and Wheels. Gee wins a second diamond after the defenders have cashed four red tricks, leads a low trump to the ace, and finesses the 9 on the way back, playing South, the doubler, for a stiff. 1100. It’s on purpose, I just know it is.

Aug 052002
 

None Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: DA

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

1 D
Pass

North

3 H
Pass

East
1 C
Dbl
South
Pass
Pass

 

In a recent column Gee’s partner made a second-seat vulnerable overcall of 1H with 3S, holding KQxxxxx Qxxx x x. In the post mortem Gee remarked that it was “unexpected that my partner made a pre-emptive overcall with 7 and a 4-card suit.”

OK then. Today we take a closer look at 3-level overcalls. East opens 1C, South passes, West replies 1D. The ordinary player might pass, would pass, with the North hand. Gee calls 3H.

Now I know what you’re thinking. If the 3S overcall was wrong how can this one be right? Look more closely. The 3S overcall was made with seven to the KQ; Gee’s is with five to the 10. All the difference in the world. And sure, Gee has an outside four-bagger, but it’s only headed by the 10, and it’s in a suit the opponents haven’t bid. No comparison there.

Gee is also not vulnerable, giving him an extra margin of safety. And finally his 3H was in fourth, not second seat. His partner having passed makes it almost certain that the opponents have at least a game. And they do; 3NT makes 4 or 5.

The opponents, however, double instead of bidding their NT game. The play is lengthy and sanguinary. The defense leads the DA, cashes the SK and leads a second diamond, won by West with the K. West cashes the SQ and gives East a third-round diamond ruff. East cashes a third round of spades, West sluffing her stiff club, and gives West a club ruff, Gee playing CQ from dummy. Gee ruffs the fourth-round of diamonds in hand with the deuce (discarding his last club doesn’t help), and the HQ from East forces the HK from dummy. West still has two trump tricks coming, for down 5.

These expert bids work out every once in a while, I know they do. Don’t they?

Jul 252002
 

N/S Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: DQ

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

 

Yesterday’s lesson in hand evaluation continues. Today we see the other side of the coin.

Although many players might double with the North hand it is difficult to quarrel with the heart overcall. Some players would bid 1NT with East’s hand, but he thought it more important to show the four spades with a negative double, and again this is difficult to fault.

Gee, sitting South, holds what appears at first blush to be an eleven-loser hand with four small trumps and no ruffing values whatsoever. But on closer inspection, the hand reveals itself as eleven losers with four small trumps and no ruffing values whatsoever. Some players might venture a raise to 2H; more conservative players might pass. But Gee knows the Law: four hearts plus five hearts make nine hearts. He raises to 3.

Sure enough, his brilliant gambit pays off, as West bids 4C. Four of either minor is off 2 on moderately alert defense. But North bids 4H, alas. She envisions a South hand like Kxxx Kxxx xxxx x — here the heart game is cold unless trump are 4-0 — or even Jxxxx KQxx xxx x, where it is an underdog but has chances. Of course East, who has been laying the weeds with three heart tricks, promptly doubles, and North finds the dummy somewhat, shall we say, disappointing. The usual result would be -500 or -800 (against an E/W partial), but the catastrophic trump split produces seven tricks for the defense, down 4, for a score with which we are all, by now, distressingly familiar.

Yet it is the mark of the expert to extract something from every disaster. After the hand Gee asks his partner gently if she understood that 3H was a weak bid. Her reply is unrecorded, but clarifications like this cannot help but improve partnership understanding for the future.

Jul 182002
 

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: CJ

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

 

Today I shall necessarily be brief, for before us is the Auction That Passeth All Understanding.

Our hero sits East. After a perfectly sane 1H opener from West and a rather less sane 2C overcall from North, Gee responds 2D. This is the last bid of his that I understand. Doubtless this is due to my own limitations. West rebids 2NT. He has no attractive alternatives, and one can sympathize. (3NT may well make at the table. 4H is somewhat better, but no game is cold.)

West has now shown no fit — with four spades he would probably bid them over 2D — and a minimum hand. Lesser players would content themselves with a simple 3NT here. Gee, however, bids 3S, and West raises to 4 — assuming that his partner would never introduce a motheaten four-card suit at the 3-level. A pause ensues, and 4NT emerges. Blackwood with a void is again perhaps not every player’s choice, but true masters adopt, quite properly, a Nietzschean contempt for the silly “rules” that constrain the rest of us. West dutifully responds 5S, with spades agreed. It is possible to construct a West hand on which six diamonds makes, something like QJ10 Axxxx Jx AJx. But Gee, missing a key card but nonetheless dissatisfied with a mere small slam, proceeds to 5NT, asking for specific kings. West denies an outside K with 6S, Gee signs off in 7D, South doubles, and the rest is silence.

The diamond grand is off only one if spades and diamonds both break 3-3 (or the DJ drops second) and the SK is onside. On the actual, rather more likely distribution we have…well, you all know by now what we have. Don’t you?