Declaring

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.

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.

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.

Mar 282003
 

Both Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: S10

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

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
—Ludwig Wittgenstein

It is with trepidation that I ignore Wittgenstein and attempt an analysis of today’s hand.

West opens a lightish 2C, and the maestro replies with 2D, which is — waiting? negative? diamonds? Whereof one cannot speak…

South’s 4C vulnerable is a death wish. He catches a miracle dummy and goes for only 500 on accurate and 200 on the probable defense. West doubles, which, with no suits having yet been bid by his side, sure looks like takeout to me. Now you might figure North to bid some number of clubs, but North is a disciple of the “give ’em enough rope” school, he passes, and it’s hard to argue with the result. Six in either red suit is cold, but Gee, mindful of the significance of the extra 10 points at IMPs, and sure that his partner’s double promises not only a club stopper but a club stopper that’s safe to lead through, shoots 6NT. West can’t do anything but pass, for the captain has spoken. North doubles and prays.

Do I lead a club on this auction? Probably. But South reasons, understandably, that if North had club tricks he would have supported clubs, and he throws the 10 of spades on the table.

All is in the maestro’s capable hands. Can he find the two-way safety play in hearts and take thirteen top tricks? He wins the spade in hand and leads a diamond to the board. Both defenders follow; so far so good. He plays four more rounds of diamonds, ramping up the suspense; North tosses all of his spades. With the specs on the edge of their seats, the maestro slaps down the king of hearts, carefully catering to South’s possible 1-4-3-7 holding. South shows out, and it’s all over.

One must be silent.

Mar 242003
 

Both Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: HK

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

Pass
Pass
Pass

North

1 S
2NT
Pass

East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 D
1NT
3NT

 

I confess that I am not entirely happy with the Gee-Spot formula, which, to review, is 100*(P(C) – P(G)), P(C) being the probability of success of the correct line, P(G) being the probability of Gee’s. Sometimes it doesn’t quite capture the achievement.

Take today’s hand, for instance, an excellent 3NT contract reached after a rare normal auction. The defense begins with four rounds of hearts, West discarding a spade on the fourth round. You or I cash a club, cross to a diamond, take the club finesse into the safe hand, and score ten tricks when East shows up with Qxx in clubs. 100% for nine tricks no matter how the clubs lay out. The maestro slaps down the ace and king of clubs. The queen does not fall. He plays a third club, and East wins the queen and cashes the long heart for off 1. He then complains that he tried three things and none of them worked. (Queen singleton, queen doubleton, and queen with West, if you’re counting at home.)

In a naked Gee-spot reckoning this scores:

100 * (1.0 – 0.61) = 39

A 39 Gee-spot is respectable, but not especially noteworthy. Yet who can gainsay the magnificence of his line?

The problem is even more conspicuous here:

N/S Vul
MPs
Dealer: South
Lead: CJ

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

Pass
Pass
Pass

North

2NT
4 S

East

Pass
Pass

South
1 S
3 H
Pass

 

Another normal contract on another normal auction, although Josh can perhaps be faulted for failing to Bones four spades, especially at matchpoints. The club jack is led, queen, king, ace, and it’s Endplay 101. Pull trump, eliminate the hearts, discarding the third club from the closed hand, and exit a club. Eventually West will have to lead a diamond back to you or concede a ruff-sluff. Again, a 100% line for the contract.

Gee pulls trump and plays another club. West wins and shifts to hearts. Gee wins a high heart, and it’s still not too late: cash the second heart, discarding a club, ruff a heart, cross to the board with a trump and run the diamond 9, covering whatever East plays. But Gee runs the diamond 9 immediately, eliminating neither suit and giving West his choice of safe exits. West exits a club, ruffed on board, and now with AQ10 all offside in diamonds he has no chance to make the contract. (How he managed 41 of the matchpoints remains a mystery.)

The Gee-spot works out as:

100 * (1.0 – 0.88) = 12

A lousy 12 Gee-spot for that brilliant effort? Gee-ology, for good or ill, remains as much art as science.

Mar 142003
 

Both Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: D10

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

 

Today, faced with a third-seat spade opener from East, our hero steps into the breach with a reasonable 2H overcall. As it happens 2HX goes for 500 at least, but it works out that way sometimes. (East/West have an outside shot at four spades with a diamond lead, not that they’re likely to bid it. But the maestro would undoubtedly lead his ace of clubs, and a club continuation assures four tricks for the defense.)

2H is passed around to East, who reopens with a double, which West would be happy to pass. He never gets the chance. Gee pulls immediately to 3C, taking advantage of the opportunity to show his four-card minor — just look at those spots! — which West of course doubles. Being unfamiliar with his partner’s expert methods of bidding two-suited hands, North reasons that his partner is 5-5 and passes.

West leads the diamond 10, ducked around, and Gee ruffs a second round of diamonds in hand as East inserts the jack. He plays the heart ace and low heart, which West ducks, allowing his partner to ruff. The queen of spades comes back, covered by the king and ace, and the defense continues spades. East wins the jack and plays a low trump, ducked to the king.

West leads trump back, and the queen from dummy fetches the jack from East. Gee overtakes with the ace and now the hand is an open book. West is known to have five hearts and three trump. The diamond 10 is from a doubleton, unless we assume West led it from Q10x with Ax of his partner’s suit as an alternative. This leaves him with three spades. Draw the trump, cash the spade, and exit a small heart. West is endplayed in hearts, for down 2, and a merely catastrophic -500.

Our hero cashes the spade first, assuring himself that West does indeed have three spades, and then leads a low heart. West returns his last trump and now the endplay is on the other foot. Two spades, a ruff, the trump king, a diamond, and two hearts make seven tricks for the defense. Not that the extra 300 cost or anything.

Gee summarizes lucidly: “Too bad pd…3H is down only 2.”

Mar 072003
 

None Vul
MPs
Dealer: East
Lead: H6

cleos2
S K 4
H Q J 7 4 3 2
D Q J 9
C 8 3
giorgi
S A 9 8 7
H 8 5
D 7 5
C K 10 9 7 4
[W - E] Maestro
S Q 3
H A K 10 9
D 10 4 3 2
C A 5 2
jccasper
S J 10 6 5 2
H 6
D A K 8 6
C Q J 6
West

Pass
Dbl
Pass

North

2 H
Pass
Pass

East
1 D
Pass
3 C
South
1 S
2NT
Pass

 

Today we have a play problem. How do you make 2NT as South against a club lead?

Answer below, but first some bidding, which is one way to put it. Our hero opens a normal 1D, and South makes a normal 1S overcall. West, with a fine defensive hand, makes a nice pass to await developments. North rewards him with an ill-advised 2H call. Conceivably South holds something like AQxxx Kx A10xx xx and you have a heart game, but with 9 lousy points, a spade tolerance, and a bad suit, passing is more likely to keep you out of trouble.

Gee manages to restrain himself and pass, and South, not unreasonably, offers up 2NT, doubled by West, obviously for penalty. The maestro shrewdly pulls to 3C, which offers several advantages. It keeps his partner off lead against 2NT, right-sides the hand, and helps forge the trust that is indispensable to a successful partnership.

3C buys the hand, and South leads his stiff heart 6, covered by the jack and won in hand with the ace. If South holds four trump and a stiff heart, you’re always down on correct defense (I think — my readers are welcome to correct me, as always), but the hand is pretty cold as long as the trump splits. Two rounds of trump, ending up on the board, followed by the semi-marked heart finesse. South can ruff in and cash his two diamonds, but now declarer’s third trump provides an entry to the good hearts, and the defense gets a trump, a spade, and two diamonds.

The maestro begins as recommended, with the ace and king of trump. He now plays a spade, and lo! the practice finesse holds, despite the bidding. North rises and leads the diamond queen, overtaken by South, who cashes the master trump and exits with a spade, which Gee wins on board with the queen. We now have:

cleos2
S
H Q 7 4 3 2
D J
C
giorgi
S A 9
H 8
D 5
C 10 9
[W - E] Maestro
S
H K 10 9
D 10 4 3
C
jccasper
S J 10 6
H
D A 8 6
C

 

Diamond from hand, right? If South wins and returns a spade, no need for the heart finesse. South wins and returns a diamond, ruff, heart finesse, nine tricks. North wins, returns a heart, same nine tricks. Or you could simplify matters by cashing the heart king, playing South to have led the heart 6 from J6. Again, no luck. South shows out, and Gee loses a diamond and a spade at the end for down 1.

2NTX might have been interesting. On a club lead the defense appears to collect four clubs, two diamonds and the spade ace for 300. On a double-dummy heart lead there seem to be even eight tricks for the defense: two clubs, four hearts and two spades. However, my powers of analysis being what they are, I am fortunate to have Gee to set me, and the spectators, straight:

G: further more he doubled a 2NT bid that was making and I took it out… he screamed at me for it (The “scream” was as follows: “how could u over 2nt to 3cl, if i want to bid 3cl i bid myself, it’s only unbid suit, and then in 3cl u cashed top heart instead of finessing it” —Ed.)
Spec #1: 2n was making?
G: sure it was
Spec #2: sure
G: and the 3C making 3 was the only viable contract for us (Um, making 3? —Ed.)
G: making 4
Spec #1: looks to me like you get 4 clubs, AK of hearts and ace of spades on defense
Spec #3: 2NT never makes
G: 2NT makes
Spec #1: 3 rounds of clubs and how can you see they make 2NT i still am missing it
G: it makes 1C, 4D, 1S and 2H tricks

So simple. Once it’s explained to you.

Mar 042003
 

N/S Vul
MPs
Dealer: East
Lead: H3

eran1
S A Q 9 8 7
H J 7 6 4 2
D 5
C J 2
revokes
S 5 2
H 8 5 3
D J 9 8 6
C A K 7 4
[W - E] kathwei
S 10 6 4 3
H K Q 10 9
D Q 2
C 10 5 3
Maestro
S K J
H A
D A K 10 7 4 3
C Q 9 8 6
West

Pass
Pass
Dbl

North

1 S
3 H
Pass

East
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
South
1 D
3 D
4 C
Pass

 

For the STCP™ bidding misfits often proves troublesome. A brief lesson from the master may clear up some of the subtler points involved.

Gee opens a diamond and jump rebids 3D over the 1S response, giving his partner a problem. Pass wins, as it so often does; 3D makes exactly three and there is no game on the layout. But North very reasonably chooses 3H to show his 5-5 hand in the majors; there could easily be a major suit game available if Gee holds three of either. East doubles, chancily, for a heart lead and it’s back to the maestro.

At this stage the STCP™, scenting a misfit and knowing his partner is at least 5-5, might take a simple preference to three spades to show his excellent two-card support. (With three in either major South should bid game.) This approach, however, hides the four-card club suit, in which you could conceivably have a seven-card fit (assuming North is void diamonds) that you may well want to play at the four-level. The maestro therefore spurns the spade preference in favor of four clubs.

West doubles, of course, and poor North, who figures Gee to be 1-1-6-5 with a hand not quite good enough for a three club rebid, passes.

A heart is led, and there appear to be eight tricks for declarer, the 4-2 fit notwithstanding: two spades, two diamonds, the heart ace, a diamond ruff (West figures to have both club honors on the auction), and two heart ruffs in hand. Yet is -500 enough to guarantee the zero? Why take chances?

Gee wins the heart ace, cashes the diamond ace, and leads…a trump! West rises with the king, marking the trump ace, and plays another heart. Gee ruffs, cashes two spades in hand, and makes the key play of a low diamond, ruffing with the jack as both defenders follow. He attempts to cash the spade ace, sluffing a diamond, but West ruffs, cashes the trump ace, and plays his last heart, and now, no matter what Gee does, the trump queen is his last trick. -800, and the zero is assured.

Who’s to blame? Let’s listen:

G: not better to play with a known 7 card trump than a probably 6 card trump suit? (Yes, this was Gee, not his partner. —Ed.)
eran1: but u must be 6-5 why no 3S? i take u 6-5-1-1
G: no, with 6-5 I bid D, then C then D again
Spec #1: huh????
G: with 5-5 I bid D then C then C
eran1: so why no 3sp?
Spec #2: lolol
Spec #3: did he just type that?
G: with 6-4, I bid D then D then C

See? Bidding misfits is easy!