Tuesday, January 4, 2011

NYC Board-a-Match

I had a good time last week at the NYC regional and came in a close 4th in the board-a-match...close to 2nd, that is. The winners were about 6 boards clear of the field! I wrote up a cute hand where I could have reduced the margin a small amount -- check out http://www.bridgewinners.com/blogs/nyc-bam-validating-an-insult.html

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Check out Bridge Winners

Hi Everyone,

I'm not playing much lately and have less time to blog. In the unlikely event that any readers here haven't seen it, I highly recommend the new site Bridge Winners created by Gavin Wolpert, Jason Feldman and others. It's attracting columns by a lot of great people. I've been commenting regularly...you might check out Kit Woolsey's latest exciting hand and my comments. As a theory nerd I can occasionally point out something interesting even to players who are much better than I am.

Bottom line: I will leave this site up, and still love bridge, but don't expect too much activity! If I do come up with something I might write an entry over at Bridge Winners, which has become bridge central. Many thanks to everyone who has regularly read and commented here!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Robot madness

Regular readers know that I'm fairly unbiased on this blog, in terms of including lots of hands I messed up, etc., right? I hope this gives me license to publicize the following. Last night I substantially broke my previous record in a (12-board) robot duplicate, scoring 77.1%. I resolved not to play for a while, since my next effort would surely disappoint, right? Well, but I couldn't resist a game today, and as predicted I couldn't live up to last night, scoring 74.8%, my second-best score ever. :-) Yay, 2.4 masterpoints. Now I really shouldn't play for a while.

Good luck to everyone in Philly...I'm not going, have to get back to work.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bidding Problem

Here’s an interesting hand to bid from the Spingold. I had a promising collection in 1st seat white/red, AKQxxx Kxxxx x x, which got better when partner responded with Jacoby 2nt. What is your plan? Assume standard Jacoby where 4x=5-card suit and at least a sound opener. I don’t think any of the popular modifications exactly solve this hand either.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Update on the mysterious origins of the fatal hand

I was curious enough to get in touch with the author, Gary Pomerantz, who was kind enough to send a prompt reply:

Hi Jonathan, Thanks for your very nice email. On the night Jack Bennett was killed, the Hofmans were interviewed by Kansas City police. Both Mayme and Charles Hofman indicated that they could not remember the distribution of cards in the so-called "Fatal Hand." Myrtle was delirious on that night, and into the wee hours, and was given a sedative. To my knowlege, she was never asked about the distribution of cards. My Best, GP

I agree with Mr. Pomerantz that this makes it almost certain that the deal was a fabrication. What I gather, though, is that he doesn't have any first or second-hand accounts of the actual concoction, but as far as he knows it first appeared in The Bridge World so he assumes they were the ones who made it up. He is very likely to be right. If there were any bridge-playing cops on the scene (not so far-fetched in 1929) they *might* have been able to reconstruct the deal, but one would expect there to be a record of such a thing happening, and The Bridge World might have mentioned that, so I really doubt such a reconstruction happened.

The fatal hand

I just read "The Devil's Tickets" by Gary Pomerantz, a very entertaining book published a couple of years ago (targeted to non-bridge-players) which details both the famous Bennett bridge murder and the rise of Ely Culbertson as the nation's bridge guru. I've seen the "fatal hand" which led to the murder many times in bridge publications. Interestingly, this book states that aside from the bidding, the fatal hand itself is a fabrication! The participants were social players who wouldn't have been able to reconstruct the exact cards, especially since the declarer was dead.

Unfortunately, though the book is mostly footnoted, the author gives no source for the claim of fabrication, which I nonetheless tend to believe. He says that the hand was constructed by Sidney Lenz and first appeared in The Bridge World as part of Culbertson's never-ending search for publicity. It has since been reproduced many times. If someone has the latest Bridge Encyclopedia, I am curious whether there is any mention of the supposed hand being a construction.

Too bad Hercule Poirot wasn't on the scene with the police; he would surely have reconstructed the hands accurately, even though the tricks were gathered rubber-bridge style. Yes, I also recommend "Cards on the Table" to those who have missed it.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Not so fast (updated)

Here is a hand I enjoyed playing from our first-round loss in the Spingold. I was in 3C with

963 6542 QJ K873

KT54 7 K5 AQJ962

on the uncontested auction 1C-1D!(hearts)-1S-2C-3C. I considered the 3C bid very close; apparently at the other table they thought a long time and passed. Anyway, it’s nice to see the opponents can make 4D and probably 4H. Could I make 3C? They led a heart to the A and the DA. I dropped the DK in case I needed the entry; since I did this in tempo, I guess they were afraid I was 4-2-1-6 and they fatally played a second heart. I ruffed with the 9, played a diamond to dummy for a heart ruff, and played the CQ to the K, very pleased when lefty had stiff T. I could claim now; I eliminated the last heart with a high ruff, crossed to the C8 pulling the last trump, and led a spade planning to cover RHO’s card for the endplay. The opposing spades were AJx/Qxx so this was a very nice result requiring a little help from the defense. Fun. But on later sober reflection, I realized I played this hand wrong! Do you see why? Answer tomorrow.

The result was a 1-imp pickup when our teammates didn’t get in the auction either and were -90.


The actual right way to play: I should use my trump entry before the diamond entry. This works just as well when the T drops, but leaves me better placed when it doesn't to make against both A onside and Qx or Jx onside, because I find out the trump position earlier. Work it out.