Saturday, August 29, 2009

A bit of a break

I've been taking about a month off from playing bridge for the first time in more than a year. It's interesting, it actually takes a couple of weeks for decompression before "bridge thoughts" stop going through my mind at random moments. Anyway, after I move back to Evanston on September 1, I'm playing several days at the sectional in Skokie September 4-6, so I should have plenty of new material then! I must admit, I like writing about bridge about as much as playing it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

6-6 hand follow-up

Maybe this isn’t a good problem, since everyone is bidding like me. To make it a discussion, I’ll make the case for passing: partner is still there and has heard you imply a good deal of shape (though not necessarily 6-6.) He is marked with length in hearts, and if he has strength there also it could be right to defend; with weak hearts maybe he’ll find another bid. Well, ok, this doesn’t convince me pass is right…partner had some reason to come alive with 5S, and you know it wasn’t his diamond holding! So here’s the story:

At the table I bid 6S without much thought, beyond that partner could have Axx or Axxx in trumps and have not thought his hand was worth 3S the first time, and that 1430 is a lot more than 100 or 300, not to mention -200 being better than -920 or -1090! Tempo probably wasn’t that crucial, but it felt like the kind of situation where I shouldn’t betray doubt, because there is an excellent chance the opponents will save; of course, maybe I want that and maybe not, who knows? Well, unfortunately partner had Jxx AKxxx xxx xx and I’m sure was hoping to double 6C. Even so, the whole operation could have worked if the opponents had saved, as they might on many layouts. They can't know that I'm void in hearts and not clubs. But alas, lefty had AQx QJxxx --- AJxxx and that was an easy double. The “good news” was that he led the CA for down 2 rather than underleading for a ruff and 800 J. The other “good news” was that our teammates had scored -620, selling to 4S after not finding clubs, meaning that -500 was only 4 imps worse than +100. The non-ironic good news was that we had good cards at both tables otherwise, and after expertly “crashing” these bad results for -15 we won the match by 11.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An appealing hand (no pun this time)

Here’s a bidding problem that came up in the Open Swiss. I thought my tempo was a potential issue – for the information it might give the opponents as well as the UI it might give partner -- so you might want to take the following approach: first decide in 5-10 seconds what you would do if you think it’s important to bid in tempo, then consider if you might revise your action given unlimited time. That’s how we ultimately progress towards making the right bid at the table, in tempo, right? I’ll post my thoughts and the story later.

You pick up KT9xxx ---- AKQJxx x (not bad) and are dealer, red/white, so you open 1S. Lefty (Dan Morse) bids 2S, partner passes, and righty (Nagy Kamel) bids 4C (pass or correct). Let’s assume you bid 4D – then lefty bids 5C, partner chimes in with 5S, and righty bids 6C. Your move?

Monday, August 3, 2009

An "appeal"ing hand

(Updated 8/04: When my teammates told us this story after the game I misunderstood who was sitting where. The version below is correct.)

Both red, playing in the final round of the national swiss against Fantoni/Nunes, with a range of final placings from about 10th to 40th still possible, you hold Qx A AT9xx AQJxx, and RHO deals and opens 1H. Probably you are thinking you would bid you have a second choice? My teammate Hailong Ao had a different first choice -- he bid 1NT! I won't debate the merits of that, but it did get his high-card points off his chest :-). Now lefty bids 3H, explained as "weak but not crazy," partner passes and righty bids 4H. If you had to sit in at this point, would you act again? Consider for a moment before reading on...

Having shown his hcp but not his shape (to say the least) Hailong continued with 4NT! Although it looks very odd on the face of things to commit to the 5-level on your own, I actually think this is definitely the right action here. RHO must have a distributional hand to justify 4H, and his most likely shortness is in clubs, because if he had club length it would be weak length with the K badly positioned. Hailong's partner, JJ Wang, must have been very surprised to hear 4NT, but quite pleasantly so, for he held xxx Jxx x Kxxxxx, and as you can see 5C rolls. Furthermore, the opponents couldn't resist doubling, so that was +750.

But wait! Over 3H, which the opponents alerted (not alertable for a few years now, but most people seem not to know that,) JJ had inquired and been told the meaning. He then passed in tempo, but nonetheless the Italians felt that UI had been conveyed and this had influenced Hailong's 4NT bid. What do you think about their case?

I don't think they had a case. Some people will always inquire about an alert in a competitive auction -- it is certainly more common to ask only sometimes, but this is clearly an inferior practice and conveys more UI. JJ's hand, which couldn't possibly act over 3H, suggests that he was just asking reflexively and it meant nothing. Maybe he was surprised to hear an alert because he knows 3H is not alertable! He also might have been surprised to hold 3 hearts on the auction and thereby been more curious about the 3H bid, but if his question only conveyed that, it would hardly be an impetus for Hailong to bid. Well anyway, the director ruled that the result was rolled back to 4H making (it is down on optimal defense, but in these cases you don't assume that.) But late at night, the hardworking commitee restored the table result, +750 for our teammates. I look forward to the write-up in the appeals casebook.

At my table, I held opener's hand, KJx KQTxx KQJxx ----, and the auction was a pedestrian 1H-2NT-3H-5C-AP, so we scored -600. We missed a decent save in 5H (down 2, probably), but I really don't feel I should be bidding it on my hand -- partner hasn't even promised 4 trumps. So the appeal swung 19 imps, from -15 to also swung the match from -10 to +9, and our final ranking from 29th to 14th. The final match, which was the only one we played with computer-generated hands, was plenty interesting -- the final score was 30-21. Half of our imps came when we got pushed to 6C doubled, red/white, with about half the deck and a 12-card turned out to be on a hook, which won, for 1540. They got to 6C at the other table also, but our teammates took the save in their 11-card heart fit for -300.