Bidding

Jun 282002
 

None Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: C8

Maestro
S J 10
H A K Q J 6
D 3 2
C K Q 10 3
trixi
S A Q 6 5 2
H 8 5
D K 9
C A J 5 4
[W - E] mjg
S K 8 7 3
H 9 7 3 2
D Q J 8 5
C 8
che23
S 9 4
H 10 4
D A 10 7 6 4
C 9 7 6 2
West
1 S
Pass
Pass
North
2 H
5 H!
Pass
East
4 S
Dbl
South
Pass
Pass

 

This was one of the hands on which Gerard lost 80 IMPs without making a mistake. Perhaps if we analyze the hand in some detail we can discover where his partner went astray.

Gerard, looking at three quite likely defensive tricks against four spades, and six tricks declaring five hearts, opts for the sacrifice. After all, he wasn’t vulnerable, and four spades was making. East opens his singleton club, West wins the ace. At this point the defense can take the first six tricks, and a diamond later on, for down five: return a high club, two spade entries, three club ruffs. Alas, West cashes the spade ace, then returns a club. East ruffs, cashes the spade king, and exits with a trump. Looks like down three. But our hero draws two rounds of trump, crosses to the diamond ace, and takes the club finesse, allowing East to make his last trump for down 4 and -11 IMPs. Where did Gee’s partner err? All suggestions are welcome.

Jun 292002
 

N/S Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: HA

brando
S 9 2
H A K Q 10
D A K Q 5
C Q 9 8
nikkos
S K Q J 10 8 6 3
H J 5 3
D
C A 7 4
[W - E] Maestro
S
H 9 7 6 2
D 9 8 6 4 3 2
C K 10 2
ice-t
S A 7 5 4
H 8 4
D J 10 7
C J 6 5 3
West

Pass
3 S
Pass
Pass

North

2NT
Pass
3NT
Pass

East
Pass
Pass
Pass
4 S!!
Pass
South
Pass
3 C
Dbl
Dbl

 

One might get the impression from reading these pages that Gerard always goes minus. Nothing could be further from the truth (well, maybe some things). Today we observe how an EXPERT evaluates his trump support.

Gerard, wisely divining that his partner had a full opener despite passing third hand, finds the brilliant bid of raising to game on a void! On the bidding it is obvious (to the EXPERT, if not the Small Time Club Player) that North holds a tenace in hearts, and that his partner’s honors will either drop or be finessable. Sure enough 3NT is cold, and Gee saves 5 IMPs or so with minimal risk. (Today’s hand courtesy of faithful reader Doug Ross.)

Jul 022002
 

Gerard complains that I choose hands that show him in the worst possible light and that if he didn’t have bad luck he’d have none at all. Here at the Chronicles we aim to please. So today’s hand will feature Gee’s partner selling him down the river. Because I’m that kind of guy.

Both Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: HA

peterw
S 4 3 2
H Q 8 3
D 8 5
C J 7 6 4 3
plus790
S
H J 10 9 6 5
D Q 9 7 4
C A 10 9 5
[W - E] mohawk
S A 9 8 6 5
H A K 7 2
D 10 6
C Q 2
Maestro
S K Q J 10 7
H 4
D A K J 3 2
C K 8
West
Pass
Pass
4 H
Dbl
Dbl

North
Pass
2 C
Pass
5 C
Pass

East
1 S
2 H
Pass
Pass
Pass

South
Dbl
3 D
4 S!
Pass
Pass

 

After East opens a spade, Gee elects to double, I suppose on the theory that he’s strong enough to rebid his diamonds, although a jump by his partner in hearts might leave him in some embarrassment. He is momentarily spared: West passes and North bids clubs in perfect innocence. East makes an ambitious rebid of two hearts, considering his partner might be flat broke, and West shows his colors with a raise to four over Gee’s three diamonds.

Four hearts probably makes although it’s no cinch, but Gee is bent on a sac and bids a remarkable four spades, putting poor North in a quandary. Is the bid natural? A little reflection will tell you that it must be, since 4NT is available for minor suit takeout. Four spades, with the correct forcing defense in hearts, is down only 4, for a mere 1100. But North pulls to five clubs, down 5, and because of his failure to read the four spade bid correctly a 9 or 10 IMP loss becomes 14. Gee is right. His partners just keep doing him in.

Jul 032002
 

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: D5

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

2 S
Pass

North

Pass
Pass

East
1 S
4 S
South
Pass
Pass

Today we have a special treat. Guest commentary from Gerard himself! Last night I quoted Gee as follows: “Sorry partner, I knew it was a swing board and did not use it to bid 6.” I also claimed the hand in question never made 6. I now yield the floor.

How can you say it never makes? I am most upset by your commentary of it, which means, in plain English: This guy (me, Gerard) is a lunatic. He does not know what he is talking about!

Gerard continues:

31 tables played this contract so far, out of which, 2 bid and made 6, 23 did not bid slam but made 6, 3 made 5, 1 went down 1 in a 5 contract and 1 played the other side. This is a huge percentage of success for a board that cannot make. [Ed.–This summary is accurate.]

Just by looking at the results showing that 90% of the players made slam, don’t you think you look a bit ridiculous when you make fun of me in public by stating that I am a fool for thinking this contract makes?

Seems to me you are placing judgement on something way above your head. So I will try to spell it out for you.

Almost everybody made 6… I did not make 6, only 5… I was one of the 3 unlucky ones who had a nasty lead, and Genes was one of the 3 lucky ones who made an odd but lucky lead. Lucky because there is no logic to that lead, but it just happened to work. I played the hand in a 4 contract, but if I had followed my instinct and bid the slam contract, the lead might very well have been different, more similar to the other tables, in which case it would have made 6… Like everybody else…

I did not bid slam because I used my head instead of my gut feeling (By the way, you did not praise me for using my head either). [Ed.–I think it would be patronizing to praise what looks like an absolutely obvious four spade bid.] If I had used my gut feeling instead of my head, Genes would have used his head instead of his gut feeling and made one of the two logical but wrong leads available to him. Only two other players did the same thing as Genes did.

But this is what happens when you play with and/or against great players. [Ed.–Hmm. Wasn’t the diamond lead illogical but lucky?] Success or failure has to do as much with strategy, psychology and dare as with technique, and that’s why, you people come to kibitz us competitors at our tables.

In the case of this board, Genes succeeded by dare, I missed by lack of dare. [Ed.–I think Gee’s being a bit hard on himself here. I wouldn’t call four spades a cowardly bid.]

Yes, on paper and for you specs looking at all 4 hands, this contract does not make. At the table, we have to figure things out by ourselves, without help from anyone and we need to have a vision. We don’t use the paper. It is not always as clear as for you in specs. And even what is clear to me may not be clear to the opponents.

On paper, this contract does not make and Genes’ lead is a poor lead. In reality, that contract makes and Genes’ lead was a great lead. I maintain what I said. I did not dare continue all the way to slam, and I was wrong. If I had dared, Genes would probably not have dared making an odd lead and I would have had the big score, even if you, in spec, would have thought I was crazy. [Ed.–Seawind showed up with a near-maximum hand, along with the crucial ace of diamonds. We will assume Gee would check for aces before bidding six. Even so, it is very difficult to construct a hand on which slam is a favorite. The best I can do is Jxx Kxxx Axxx Qx, or the same hand with the diamond K. This is a barely conceivable two spade raise and slam is about 90%. On the actual hand, even if we assume no diamond lead, you need the HK onside, the CQ onside, and trump 2-1. I book six at about 20%.]

I made the comment to the specs, before the hand was played out, that it was a swing board. I knew it when you, upstairs, did not even have a clue about it. I know you did not, else you would not have written, sic: “discussing a hand on which six never makes.”

If six never makes, how come so many players made it? [Ed.–Because they didn’t get the best defense. However, I should not have said six never makes. I should have said six is an awful contract and cannot make without help.] And if so many made six, how come you, specs and critics, are unable to recognize it is makeable… It is written here, black and white on paper that the slam contract makes. Because you lack of imagination and foresight.

Against all odds, I had a sense that it could make and I stated it before the action took place to the specs and after seeing the results and realizing that on paper it could not make.

If I had dared, I would have won it. But I did not dare….this time!

Does that justify that you publicly denounce my stupidity and ridicule me for it?

It must hurt you badly not to be able to have these visions since you have this craving for making me pass for a fool and try to make me lose face in front of all the spectators who come to see me play. I say me… not you.

Looks to me that you need to demolish me so you don’t have to face your own limitations…

If I could do it all over again, I would bid 6S and Genes would not have made that lead. That same psychologic war takes place between all contestants in any competitive activity. The stronger the competition, the more intensely this intellectual confrontation plays out.

I am not ridiculous, or dumb, or a lunatic. I am a competitor.

Please correct your writing.

[Ed.–Ask and ye shall receive. I thank Gerard for his contribution, and so, I’m sure, do my readers.]

Jul 042002
 

Both Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: H9

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

Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass

North

3 D
3NT
Rdbl

East
2 S
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
Pass
3 S
Pass
Pass

Three spades is a remarkable bid. Asking? Telling? Psyche? I defer to the judgment of my readers. North, in any case, bid 3NT, for which it is hard to blame him, doubled understandably by West. North expects to make and redoubles. The pass of the redouble, though not in the same league with three spades, is noteworthy in its own right. Four diamonds is likely down three or so, but against 3NT East leads the H9, ducked to North’s K. Ace and another D to West’s K, a club return, a heart back through the J, and the defense runs 10 tricks. In fairness to Gerard this result is not entirely his fault. North misdiscarded and allowed East to make his last diamond at the end for 4000, when only 3400 was legitimately available.

Correction: Gerard asserts that the three diamond overcall was forcing. The editor was unaware that this game took place on Venus. He regrets the error.

Jul 052002
 


An experienced Gerard spectator maintains that the best way to play against him is to wait until he finishes bidding, then double — advice that resembles “buy low, sell high” in that you’re never quite sure when he is finished bidding. Nonetheless the Bones Principle can be a useful heuristic, as today’s hand demonstrates.

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: North
Lead: CK

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

Dbl
Pass
Pass

North
1 S
Pass
Pass
Pass
East
Pass
2NT
3 H
Pass
South
2 C
Dbl
Dbl

With both the North and South hands almost unlimited, at unfavorable vulnerability, and with a dead flat loser-rich hand, West makes a bold takeout double. (There are other possible adjectives here, like “suicidal.”) Nonetheless if Gee, sitting East, bids 2H, it’s unlikely that South, with his powerful hand, will allow him to play. His actual bid, however, is 2NT, which is promptly doubled. Now there’s nowhere to run but 3H, which loses three diamonds, three spades, a club and a trump for down 4. I book the blame for this disaster at about 50-50. Readers are encouraged to write in with their own assessments.

Jul 062002
 

Both Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: S9

Maestro
S 7 6 4 3 2
H 9
D K J 9 8 4 2
C 3
pinewynd
S A 8 5
H K 10 5
D Q 6
C A 10 7 5 2
[W - E] samiko27
S 9
H J 8 7 4
D A 10 5 3
C J 9 8 4
frances1
S K Q J 10
H A Q 6 3 2
D 7
C K Q 6
West
1 C
1NT
Pass
Pass
North
Pass
3 D
4 D
Pass
East
1 H
Pass
Dbl
South
Pass
3NT
Pass

 

It is difficult, usually, to hide a five-card major if you enter the bidding after the opponents have bid two other suits, but today’s hand is an object lesson in how it’s done. On the first round North might consider a two diamond overcall, although it’s somewhat dangerous at unfavorable, and South might venture a courageous 1S over samiko’s 1H. But Gee as North, having apparently evaluated his hand as too weak for a two diamond overcall, is now strong enough for 3D, which hides the five-card major and displays a certain blithe indifference to the vulnerability. South bids 3NT, corrected by Gee to 4d, down 800 after a trump misguess with the spade game cold.

But the real expert distinguishes himself by the care he takes for his partner’s feelings in the post mortem.

frances1: partner a little whimsical…
Gerard: I bid because you don’t… Had I known you had all those spades I would never have gone for it
Gerard: you had a big hand
frances1: but Gerard if you had to bid…at least x you had two suits… with my hand I would know you didn’t have much

Good thing they cleared that up to avoid future disasters. Isn’t that what really matters?

Jul 082002
 

N/S Vul
MPs
Dealer: East
Lead: D2

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

Pass
Pass
Pass

North

1 S
3NT
Pass

East
Pass
2 D
4 D
Pass
South
1 D
2NT
Dbl

The opening diamond bid was Precision, showing fewer than 16 points and 2+ diamonds. Two diamonds is risky — the responder is unlimited and opener may have a diamond suit — but at least defensible at the favorable vulnerability. We shall discuss what four diamonds showed in a moment.

There is nothing to the play. Six tricks: four trumps, the SK and the HA. Gerard takes his six tricks for -800 and zero matchpoints. Then he apologizes to his partner — for the play! One of the spectators points out that maybe the four diamond bid was the problem. “There was nothing wrong about my bidding,” says Gee. “3NT is clearly cold…4D was a good bid, your insinuation is nasty at best.”

One hates to insinuate nastily, and 3NT is indeed cold on a diamond lead. But on a club lead, which is unlikely but possible from the West hand, declarer has only eight tricks unless he finds the HJ, which is by no means certain. In 4D West has five playing tricks. Partner needs to show up with two tricks to beat the actual result, and if she does then 3NT might go down as well.

Jul 122002
 
E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
efes
S Q J 8 5 2
H K
D Q 10 7 4 3 2
C 6
Lead: D9
ericb
S
H Q 10 9 8 6 4 2
D 9 8 6 5
C 9 4
[W - E] boulette
S A K 10 4 3
H A
D A J
C Q 10 8 5 2
Maestro
S 9 7 6
H J 7 5 3
D K
C A K J 7 3
West
Pass
1 H
Pass
Pass
Dbl
North
Pass
1NT
3 S
4 D
Pass
East
1 C
2 S
Dbl
Dbl
Pass
South
Pass
3 H!
4 C!!
4 H!!!
Pass

 

The 4-1 fit is often difficult to find, particularly after interference. Today’s hand shows us how. Many people open a spade with East’s hand, but here bidding the clubs first turned out to be a big success. 1NT from North as a passed hand, regardless of agreements, must be sandwich, showing a weakish hand and 5-5 or better in the unbid suits. Perhaps a far better writer than I, a Nabokov or an Amis, could do justice to the icy chill that must have run down North’s spine when Gee bid 3H over East’s 2S. I won’t even try.

North tries to start a conversation with 3S, which would be unpleasant to play but probably doesn’t go for more than 800, but who can stop a runaway train? 3S is greeted with 4C, and a last desperate pull to 4D with 4H! Fortunately N/S kept a close eye on the vulnerability. Down 7 is only -2000 and minus 19 IMPs. Could have been worse. I guess.

Jul 132002
 

N/S Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: H4

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

 

This week’s hands shall be devoted to what I expect to become an ongoing feature in this space, the 1100 Collection. Down 4 doubled vul or 5 non vul. Sticks and Wheels™. Of course I’m not talking about going for 1100 against the opponents’ vulnerable slam; any idiot can do that. Sticks and Wheels, judiciously employed, can be a deadly weapon at the game or even the part-score level.

Today we see Sticks and Wheels used to great effect against a non-vulnerable game. Gee, sitting North, makes a perfectly fine 2H overcall over West’s first-seat spade opener. A quick raise to game by an unpassed East (3H is the book bid in 2/1, 3S in SAYC, but 4S worked out OK this time), two passes back to our hero…Reader, ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for Gee. Holding six heart tricks, a bag of potpourri and a petrified starfish, he rises to the occasion with a 5H bid. The dream dummy nearly prevented this hand’s inclusion in the 1100 Collection, but luckily the defense slipped and opened the clubs, allowing him to escape for 1100. Bean counters who carp at the resulting 12 IMP loss are missing the point. If you can’t appreciate the beauty of bridge, why play at all?