Hands

Feb 212003
 

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: North
Lead: HA

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: North
jdonn
S 7 5 3
H A J 10 7 5 2
D K 5 3
C 2
sheu
S K 8 6
H K Q 6 3
D Q 7 4
C 10 9 6
[W - E] lornic
S A Q 9
H 8 4
D A 9
C Q J 8 5 4 3
Maestro
S J 10 4 2
H 9
D J 10 8 6 2
C A K 7
West

3NT

North
2 D
Pass
East
3 C
Pass
South
Pass
Pass

 

Too lazy to write a full hand today, but a small squib to whet the appetite, say, a four-trick* defensive compression play.

Gee’s partner, once again, is the fortunate Josh Donn. His 2D opener is multi, showing either a major suit weak two-bid or a strong balanced hand. East makes a pretty usual 3C overcall, and West bids an aggressive notrump game.

Josh leads the heart ace, Gee dropping the 9, and continues the suit as Gee discards a club and declarer wins the king. East plays a club; Gee wins the king and surveys the territory. What to play, what to play? Once the clubs are established declarer will have at least nine tricks: four clubs, two hearts (being marked with the queen of hearts on the play, not to mention the bidding), a diamond, and two spades. No hearts left, so that’s out. Spade into the AQ doesn’t look too promising. Ummm…

Cash the other club. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

*Only a two-trick compression if declarer ducks in diamonds, playing North for Kx or Kxx, and blocks the suit.

Feb 192003
 

N/S Vul
IMPs
Dealer: South
Lead: S7

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

Pass
3 S
Pass
Dbl
Pass

North

2 S
3NT
4 C
5 D
Pass

East

3 C
Dbl
Dbl
6 S

South
2 H
3 D
Pass
4 S
Pass

 

The Gee hand that fails to provide a useful lesson is rare. Every so often, however, a Gee hand teaches so many lessons, on so many levels, that there is nothing to do but — well, to publish it, so all the world can profit.

Today finds Gee yoked again to one of his favorite partners, junior wizard Josh Donn. The auction is a marvel. Gee’s 2H shows a subopener with five hearts and an unspecified four-card minor. (Apt pupils will note that this makes North the captain.) Josh figures East/West are cold for at least a spade game, and possibly a slam, and tries a 2S psyche.

Even at the vulnerability N/S don’t figure to get hurt too badly in 4D, so when Josh hears Gee bid diamonds he figures he can go to town. First he psyches 3NT over West’s 3S, and then runs to 4C when doubled, intending to run to 4D after that is doubled. Naturally East doubles again, and the maestro, forgetting who is captain, steps in with 4S! After all, his partner has shown a monster, and he does have 2 in support. When this is doubled Josh is forced to run to 5D, which goes for 800 against 450. East, probably unwisely, spurns the sure profit and takes a shot at 6S. It would be cold if West had a heart stiff and three diamonds instead of two of each, or on any lead but a heart.

Josh of course leads the heart king, and declarer wins the ace and leads the diamond queen off the board. Gee wins the king as North follows with the 3.

Well let’s see. If North has the club ace it won’t disappear. West must have at least five spades for his 3S bid. If he has the club ace also then he has ten black suit tricks, the heart ace and a diamond ruff for twelve. The STCP™ will reliably cash the setting trick.

Not the maestro: he shifts to a club! This would be the winning play if declarer were 5-1-1-6, provided one ignores the fact that in this case declarer would draw trump and claim. East wins the ace, which Josh unluckily fails to ruff, ruffs a diamond, plays a round of trump and claims when both defenders follow.

“That three of diamonds fooled me,” says Gee after the hand. “Any middle diamond and I continue hearts.” In Cohen suit preference, you see, your spot card is supposed to show your partner what he holds.

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.

100

Feb 082003
 

None Vul
MPs
Dealer: South
Lead: S2

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

Pass
Pass

North

2NT
Pass

East

3 S
Pass

South
1NT
3NT

 

Chronicles regulars will recall the formula for the Gee-Spot:

GS = (P(c) – P(g))*100

where P(c) is the probability of success for the correct line, and P(g) the probability for the line that our hero actually takes.

For some time I have looked for a Gee-spot of 100: a hand on which our hero, with a line guaranteed to succeed available, instead adopts one guaranteed to fail. All good things come to those who wait.

We shall pass over today’s bidding briefly. North invites with a grungy 8 points, East interferes with 3S. Gee, holding 15 points, Qxx in the opponents’ suit, and a moth-eaten five-bagger, adds a queen or so for his declarer play, spurns the certain profit (3SX goes for 300) and raises to three, reaching a rather optimistic notrump game at matchpoints, which, as it happens, is cold.

West leads his stiff spade deuce, marking the position, and East wins the spade king and shifts to diamonds, as good as anything. Our hero wins in dummy and runs the club queen, which holds. Now there is a 100% line available. With East marked on the bidding with the rest of the spades, play a spade off the board. Five diamonds, two clubs, a heart and a spade for nine tricks and a near top, with most of the field in a part-score and some of the rest in 3SX.

The maestro, however, leads a second club from the board, ducking again when East discards a spade. West wins the club king and clears the suit. Still no harm done. Gee cashes the diamond king, reenters dummy with a third round of diamonds and leads a spade. East rises with the ace and plays a small heart.

Gee of course, holding nine top tricks, plays the 10, allowing West to win the queen and cash his remaining clubs for down 3, but here we face a nice question: is this a 100 Gee-Spot, or only 75? The 75 Party could argue that there is a 25% chance that East holds both heart honors. (Maybe more, considering his 3S bid.) Wrong. East’s hand is marked as 6-4-2-1. If East had KQxx, he would shift to the heart king, playing his partner for 10xxx and a minor suit entry and hoping to drop declarer’s spot. That has to be better than diamond jack into A8xx from J10 tight. The play marks West with at least one heart honor, and I award the hand a perfect score.

After the hand Gee himself remarks: “darn me :((( too greedy :((((” There are other expletives, and other adjectives.

Feb 012003
 

N/S Vul
IMPs
Dealer: North
Lead: HK

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

Pass
Pass

North
1NT
3NT
East
3 D
Pass
South
3 H
Pass

 

In a court of law, where the defense is not obliged to tell a coherent story but only to cast doubt on the prosecution’s, a well-established technique is to argue in the alternative. The defendant accused of borrowing a tea-kettle and returning it broken might maintain that he never borrowed it, that it was broken when he borrowed it, and that he returned it in perfect condition.

Our hero is in a sticky situation after East’s preemptive overcall. Fortunately, he can bid in the alternative, with a three heart call alerted as “to play.” A spec wants to know how an ordinarily forcing bid can be to play. A more experienced spec explains: “Because he doesn’t have a good enough hand to force to game. With a better hand, 3H would be forcing.” This is bidding in the alternative.

North, however, is unfamiliar with the concept and bids 3NT. On a diamond lead this would roll home, but East finds the exceptional lead of the heart king, and the contract has no hope. Declarer can’t be blamed too severely for trying to make his contract by ducking the heart and finessing the jack on the second round. West promptly leads the diamond queen back through. North plays the king on the first round, which would make him look pretty foolish if diamonds were 7-1 but makes no difference on the actual layout. Down 4.

Our hero is nonplussed:

G: when I show heart, why are we playing in NT?
ralphm: why do you ask? i have 8x in hearts

Sigh. Doesn’t anybody understand that three hearts is not, in this case, a forcing bid? “Besides,” Gerard adds to the specs, “he went down four because of his poor play. 3NT is very makeable.”

Jan 262003
 

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: CK

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

 

Trump management is one of those fine points that, all together, make up the vast gulf, the yawning chasm separating the student from the teacher, the STCP™ from the master, the expert from the EXPERT.

Our hero is declaring 4H after an aggressive but reasonable auction. The spade cue shows a maximum and invites to game, and Gee, vulnerable at IMPs, raises to what is likely to be an underdog but playable game, despite his minimum. There is of course the vital consideration that he will declare.

The defense begins with two rounds of clubs, forcing the closed hand to ruff. Gee runs the trump 10, which holds. Another round of trump reveals the bad news, as South discards a spade. Gee goes up with the trump ace and makes the brilliant discovery play of a round of spades. All follow, and he knows that South began with exactly five.

Only now does he start the diamonds. The first round brings the jack from South. Restricted choice dictates a second-round finesse, and the STCP™ might get confused here. Not the master: he reasons that a diamond stiff would make South 5-6 in the blacks and at favorable vulnerability a good bet to bid 3C over 2H. Yet he passed. So the jack must be from QJ doubleton. Et voilà: the second top honor drops the queen.

Coda

With all side suit winners, one trick in for the defense, and two trump outstanding, Gee’s next play is a trump. North wins the king and drives out dummy’s last trump with a club, retaining the master trump, ruffing in on the spade and cashing two clubs. Down 2.

Jan 222003
 

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: North
Lead: D6

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

2NT
3NT

North
Pass
Pass
Pass
East
1 S
3 C
Pass
South
Pass
Pass
Pass

 

How can you toss a hand? Let me count the ways.

Today’s West, holding a game-going hand opposite his partner’s one spade opener, elects to suppress his five-card heart suit in favor of a masterminding 2NT. Naturally, in the parallel universe that is the Gee Chronicles, this is rewarded, as 3NT turns out to be a good deal better than the more natural 4H, which suffers from lack of entries to the closed hand and is always down against decent defense.

Gee leads the D6, best for the defense, but there should be no hope. Declarer needs only four heart tricks, and best is to win in dummy and lead the heart jack, dropping a high spot underneath it. (Otherwise if South holds K10xx, as in the actual layout, she can return a heart to kill dummy’s last entry prematurely and the defense can come to five tricks in the end.) Whether the heart is ducked or won, play a spade honor and return to hearts. This line wins unless a) hearts are 5-0 or South holds a small stiff; or the defense shifts to clubs, they break badly and the long hand also holds the spade ace.

Our declarer, however, plays the heart ace, and now things are up for grabs. This is followed by the heart jack, and South wins the king and continues diamonds. At this point dummy is dead and the contract is hopeless against sentient defense. But wait! declarer leads a spade and our hero ducks, tossing away the defense’s only hope, that declarer has a stiff spade.

Now declarer need only take the marked heart finesse for nine tricks, but wait! declarer leads the heart 6 all right, but then overtakes with the queen.

Declarer plays another heart, as good as anything, driving out South’s 10. South plays a third round of diamonds, and surely declarer can now come to only eight tricks.

Declarer cashes the last heart, on which both defenders throw spades, and the club ace and another club. South should know that Gee is left with a diamond winner and the spade ace, and let the club queen hold. But she overtakes to cash the club jack. Still no harm done; the spade ace makes five tricks for the defense… but wait! Gee discards the spade ace on South’s club winner, keeping the crucial 13th diamond.

“By overtaking my club,” says Gee, “you denied having any spades.”

Jan 192003
 

None Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: SA

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

 

Remembering that your partner has needs, desires, and 13 cards has been stressed in these pages many times. Yet Gerard continues to find new ways to emphasize its importance.

Today’s auction will repay careful study. Note, to begin with, the unusual notrump balance. This has the dual merit of right-siding the hand if your partner takes it into his head to want to play notrump (as it happens 3NT has chances for North/South, especially with South declaring where a spade lead is likely), and sucking up as much bidding room as possible on a hand that is at least even money to belong to your side.

3H, too, has merits. When your partner can’t muster a response to an opener and the bidding shows length and strength behind you in both of your broken suits — then bid it up, by all means.

3HX goes for 500, maybe 800. But Gee bid 2NT in the first place with the intention of rebidding his lovely clubs, and no mere penalty double is going to change his mind. South’s 4H is a conventional bid that says, “You were an idiot not to leave in my penalty double.” Gee passes this, which beggars description. Expert table feel pays off again as East doubles. At this point I suppose 4NT asks to choose a minor, or maybe it’s to play, I just don’t know any more. In any case Gee naturally chooses clubs. The penalty double, marking the trump position, is a last nice idea to end the auction.

East cashes the spade ace and continues spades. Gee understandably inserts the 10, bringing down West’s spade queen. Every card is now marked, yet there is still a line available for off 2. Gee cashes the trump ace, East of course showing out, ditching a heart. He takes the heart finesse and cashes two spades, sluffing diamonds as West sluffs her last two hearts. The heart ace is ruffed low and overruffed. East rises on the diamond with the ace and returns another, the king holding. Now Gee leads a heart and makes the key play of discarding a diamond, allowing East to win the heart king, the only way of assuring himself both a heart and a trump loser.

The post mortem also proves instructive:

drduby: from now on we trust each other
G: I always trust you, pard
drduby: Except when I double
G: Yes
G [the meaning of his partner’s last remark having finally dawned on him]: He was not going to pass anyway

Jan 132003
 

Both Vul
IMPs
Dealer: North
Lead: S6

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

2 D
Pass

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

 

We begin with two questions. Assuming you have no dummy entries,

1. How do you play 9 opposite AQJ83 for no losers?

2. How do you play J2 opposite 109764 for two losers?

Answers below; first there is bidding to consider. No one could object to Gee’s first double, with 18 points and at least three-card support in all the unbid suits. West’s 2D is a weak bid, showing length, since he has redouble available to show a good hand. East makes the obvious rebid of 2H, putting matters back in Gee’s hands.

Four likely defensive tricks, spade and diamond honors favorably placed for the opponents, broke partner: double of course. How else is partner going to know you have 18 points? North, having been advised that Gee has 18 points, passes, not that he has any choice, and once again it is up to the maestro to lead.

Since North shows up with two defensive tricks after promising nothing, 2H, remarkably, should go down — one on best play, two if declarer misguesses spades, which is likely. The STCP™ might think to lead a trump to cut down on spade ruffs, but Gee has a better idea: he opens the six of spades! North covers the board’s 9 with the king. This is not the world’s best defensive play but perhaps he can plead deep shock. Declarer wins the spade ace and promptly leads his low diamond.

Gee goes up with the diamond ace and decides the time has come to kill the spade ruffs. He plays the trump ace, following with the trump king, in case a third round of trump should prove necessary; you can’t be too careful about these things. Bad luck: this squashes his partner’s natural trump trick.

Now Gee shifts back to spades, relieving declarer of the obligation to drop the 10. Declarer pulls the rest of the trump and scores the doubled uptrick, giving up a club at the end. On the bright side, the diamond king never scores, there are no spade ruffs, and East/West were apparently unfamiliar with the Bones Redouble.

Answer Key

1. Put Gee on lead.

2. Put Gee on lead.

Jan 102003
 

Both Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: H4

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

2NT
Pass

North

4 S

East
Pass
Pass
South
1 D
Pass

 

It isn’t enough to take the practice finesse. You have to know which way to take the practice finesse.

North-South arrive at the spade game after a brief but instructive auction. Gee, North, with a four-loser hand and five-card trump support opposite his partner’s opener, concludes as captain that there is no reason to investigate slam. Accordingly he signs off with 4S, in a six-card spade suit to the KQ9 in which his partner, for all he knows, is void, spurning the more pedestrian bids of 3H, 3C, 3S, double, 4H, 4C, 5D, 6D and one or two others I’m sure I’ve overlooked.

Yet his effort to right-side the hand pays off. Gee ruffs the heart lead, slaps down the king of spades, both defenders following, and finesses the 10 on the second round. It holds and North-South chalk up a glorious 680. The diamond and spade slams are cold, unluckily; and Gee does make a handsome concession in the post mortem:

G: I was too conservative
peterw: did you peek at the SJ Gerard?
G: easy to know where the spades are :)))