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Bridge Big: Wave

Hi all

I haven’t been very active on the bridge front lately (live or online), my mind has been occupied with work (WebLogic .. arrrrrr … ) and personal distractions. Serious, probably yes; dramatic, no. No worries, I feel .. lighthearted, unchained, on top of my wave and at ease.  

Nira probed me for a deal and who am I to let her down. Here’s me on defence (rotated for convenience).

West
North
East
South
 
 
pass
1
DBL
RDBL
2
pass
pass
2
pass
4
a.p.
 
 
 

Sitting West I start the defence with a low and now we move to declarer’s seat.

North
T82
KT3
QJ2
KJT8
South
AK953
4
AT86
A42

Declarer took a successful finesse against the Queen, crossed to a high trump catching nothing but grit. The tiny towards dummy gets captured swiftly and West reverts back to . This is what’s left:

North
T8
KT
QJ2
K8
South
A953
-
AT86
A

Declarer decided to guard against a bad trump split by running the Ten now. I agree, I applaud players who harden their contracts with hard hats and thoughtful safety measures. Unfortunately it wasn’t as thoughtful as expected. West (I) won the trump with the Queen and promptly gave East a ruff. A loser was unavoidable so we write down 1 and €8.55 gets added to my account.

Full deal:

East Dealer
NS Vul
North
T82
KT3
QJ2
KJT8
West
Q4
AQ52
K73
Q763
East
J76
J9876
954
95
South
AK953
4
AT86
A42

So what was declarer to do when in dummy with the Ten? For sure you can insert a safety measure! The one thing you have to do first is jettison the Ace on the King of . Now you can run trump Ten and if it loses West has no damaging return. You give up a trick and claim ten with four trumps, two clubs, three diamonds and a heart.

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Bridge Big: Parakeet

Hi all

I have a story about green parakeets. Some night earlier this week I was gazing out of my window and I could swear I saw this green flash. It took my attention and I kept watching. Turns out (after exercising some Google muscle) it is a well documented phenomenon. Sometime in the 70’s pet owners set free their boy & girl parakeets in Amsterdam. Those freebirds (cue Lynyrd Skynyrd) had a lot of little baby birds and now there are flocks of them throughout the city. London has a similar thing. I spot them regularly now, flying over canals, in between buildings, nesting in the big trees or in the parks. Pretty and awesome.

I have to confess my Bridge Big adventures sound very successful all the time, but truth is slightly different. Especially in the last couple of weeks I’ve been bleeding IMPs left and right. My gains have completely evaporated and now I’m struggling not to enter the deep red end. René tells me I still do pretty good, considering the caliber of players lurking around. Every day there are top level players from all over the globe. 

Here’s a nice little deal where I picked up a nugget or two.

South
65
KQT
AKQ4
K974
West
North
East
South
 
 
Pass
1NT
DBL1
2
Pass
2
a.p.
 
 
 

1. Penalty

LHO starts with the (unhelpful) Jack of and this is what I see:

North
KT972
752
52
T62
South
65
KQT
AKQ4
K974

Not the coldest of contracts so to say.

I win the lead and start on trumps, a low one to the 9. East wins it with the Jack and switches to a . LHO winning the Queen. Back comes another and I pick up my original plan: trumps. Low to the Ten wins the trick. So my LHO started with AQ-4th. Can I defuse that dirty little bomb?

Yes, sir!

I run dummy’s Ten of and LHO wins it with the Ace. Not wanting to open up any other suit he passively returns his last (breaking 3-3). This is the position now:

North
K72
752
-
-
South
-
KQT
A4
K

I put the King of on the table and West wins it with his Ace. He switches back to for my Ace while I discard a from dummy. Still one trump too many in dummy to pull off a coup. I ruff my King of in dummy while West sheds a . Ruffing a winner instead of a loser just feels nicer, I bet the Hideous Hog would approve. I cross back to my hand with the Queen of and the coup is complete with lead in South:

North
K7
-
-
-
South
-
T
4
-

West just gets his Ace of trumps, I take 8 and €3.80.

East Dealer
NS Vul
North
KT972
752
52
T62
West
AQ83
AJ6
JT3
AQ5
East
J4
9843
9876
J83
South
65
KQT
AKQ4
K974
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Bridge Big: Amnesty

Hi all

My apartment in Amsterdam is a charm. I’m so happy with it I could burst with joy. I zig and zag thru the city on my way to work, or get lost going home after the Monday night bridge club, or just feel super snazzy on my purple street bike. Who needs a car when one can bike thru one of the coolest cities in the Netherlands? Yesterday when I biked home after work I saw this poor dude working a sweat uphill with a cute girl on the back of his (less flashy) bike, she seemed unimpressed by his efforts as she was completely immersed in some app on her smartphone. I thought it was a pretty funny sight, true in any era, guys go all in anytime for girls’ favors.

I haven’t been playing a lot at Bridge Big lately, mostly due to work and getting acquainted with Amsterdam. Here’s a nice deal. Why do I only pick up +800’s in pairs and not when playing Cash games?

South
A6
A6
AT962
QJ98

This is what I hear:

West
North
East
South
1
pass
2
pass
2
pass
2
pass
3NT
pass
pass
???

I swung a speculative axe at it.

It wasn’t because I particularly wanted a lead, I’d rather preferred a lead actually. I thought it was just too high. My partner leads a and I scream at my monitor. Why? Why? Why? You idiot, you have zero entries for your suit!

 
East
QT87
J
QJ7
AKT42
South
A6
A6
AT962
QJ98

I win my Ace and declarer drops his King. Ohhhhhhh. Trick one, ladies and gentlemen, we have a count! From here all is clear, I switch to a for dummy and next the Jack of wins the trick. When declarer asks for a I rise and clear my suit. After the dust clears declarer has scrambled together 6 tricks so we write +800 and a clean top.

West Dealer
NS Vul
North
J95432
T742
53
7
West
K
KQ9853
K84
653
East
QT87
J
QJ7
AKT42
South
A6
A6
AT962
QJ98

Okay, I forgive my partner. You can lead like a simpleton but when you bring that all important Ten of to the defence I’ll offer amnesty for your sorry ass any day. Just imagine the excruciating pain I would have been subjected to had declarer put me through the wringer of six rounds of . Surely less than pretty.

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Bridge Big: Siren

Hi all

I’m excited about moving into my apartment in Amsterdam next week. No more 3 hour commutes. Yay! It’s tiny but that’s okay, I don’t need a lot of room. My only (returning) pet peeve is the low-hanging shower head. Don’t constructors/builders/architects take the taller slice of the population into account? A long hot shower in a semi-crouch just isn’t that appealing.

Talking about showers, here’s a deal on Bridge Big where my partner gave me warm and fuzzy feelings. I pick up a decent 15-count and I wonder whether I’m going to open 1 or a strong NT. My partner is way ahead of me. 

South
KQJ76
K82
Q6
A84
West
North
East
South
pass
1
pass
1
pass
2
pass
41
pass
4
pass
42
pass
6
DBL
pass
pass
6NT
DBL
a.p.

1. Revealing my slam ambitions with a crude jump
2. Go ahead partner, you do the Ace asking. I don’t like to do that when holding only one key card myself. 

For some reason or another East decided to alert us of  a bad split. I don’t know why partner ran to 6NT but I’m not unhappy with my balanced collection. I usually prefer strain-strain-strain over NT. East leads the Ten and this is what my partner sees:

North
A3
AQ63
A2
KJ976
South
KQJ76
K82
Q6
A84

Plenty of tricks and plenty of play. Combined with East screaming like a madman about the sanity of our contract my partner had no problems executing a safety play in the suit. He won the Ace and immediately ran the Jack. When East covered it was all over: +14 IMP and €9.97 come to papa! 

West Dealer
NS Vul
North
A3
AQ63
A2
KJ976
West
9854
74
JT97543
-
East
T2
JT95
K8
QT532
South
KQJ76
K82
Q6
A84

SuitPlay by Jeroen Warmerdam tells us the suit should be tackled by running the 6 or the Jack first, completely equal in odds (97,1739%) to take four tricks.

When I showed my friend Dennis this deal he offered another approach to bring home twelve tricks. Assuming East holds the King for his insane double, you can crush him by running your and and then place West with Ace and a . That’ll probably work out, too. 

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Bridge Big: Scrubbed

Hi all

I’m getting my feet wet not just playing online. Sessions at BC Star and BCO, interacting with my bridge buddies (close by & far away) and tournaments all over the Netherlands in various degrees of success. I feel like I’m getting back into shape. 

This deal is from Bridge Big. Afterwards I felt scrubbed, not only from losing a few pennies, but because I was on the receiving end of competent declarer play.

West
North
East
South
 
 
1
pass
2NT1
pass
3
pass
4
pass
4
pass
4
pass
4
a.p.
 

1. Invitational+ with fit

I watch the auction unfold and though I’m afraid they’ll end up in slam (never good for your wallet unless they go down) the opponents screech to a halt in 4. Now what to lead?

South
K
QT94
QT87
Q954

I decided to lead a , but I don’t claim it’s clear-cut or obvious.

West
AT4
K32
K932
A82
South
K
QT94
QT87
Q954
 

My lead doesn’t work out as my partner is only able to contribute a measly little pebble, declarer’s Jack winning the trick. Next I have to surrender my King when declarer leads a small . In rapid succession declarer plays four more rounds of trumps (me discarding a bunch of unimportant ), the King of , Ace of and a low . I throw my Queen hoping to seduce declarer into thinking dummy’s 9 is good. On the Ace of declarer pitches a and finding a discard becomes a little sweaty.

West
-
K3
9
8
South
-
QT9
T
-
 

My sweaty discard turns into a full blown nightmare when declarer asks for dummy’s and ruffs it with his last trump. I’m dead.

West Dealer
NS Vul
North
8763
J5
54
JT763
West
AT4
K32
K932
A82
East
QJ952
A876
AJ6
K
South
K
QT94
QT87
Q954
 

I lost €0.52 but that’s really just pennies compared to the pain of being subjected to what seems a very conscious and well executed backwash (?) squeeze.

Noteworthy metamorphosis: Unemployed ⇒ Employed.

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Bridge Big: Round-the-clock

Hi all

Here’s another cute deal from Bridge Big. No Cash Game but a deal from a daily Round-the-clock tournament. My performance was less than stellar, so after 20 deals I had collected some 53%. Not enough to win me any money. This deal I was firing on all cylinders, though. 

South
AKQT94
-
KT542
Q2
West
North
East
South
 
 
pass
1
Double
Redouble
pass
pass
2
Double
pass
3
pass
4NT
pass
51
pass
6
a.p.
 

1. I didn’t dare to show my void (with 5NT) in a pick up partnership

3 is not very scientific, but it does show extras and will probably lead to the most likely game. My partner grabbed the bull by the horns and suddenly I was at the helm in 6. West leads a and this is what I see:

North
J76
KJ84
AQ
A743
South
AKQT94
-
KT542
Q2

Easy. I win the in dummy, draw two rounds of trumps (leaving trump Jack in dummy). I cash the other high in dummy, cross to my hand with a ruff and ruff a with the Jack. Again I cross with a ruff, extract the last outstanding trump and rattle off my winners. This is the position and I know it:

North
-
K
-
A7
South
Q
-
-
Q2

On my last trump I know West is in pain with King doubleton in and the Ace. So I take 13.

East Dealer
EW Vul
North
J76
KJ84
AQ
A743
West
2
AQT3
J973
K985
East
853
97652
86
JT6
South
AKQT94
-
KT542
Q2

It was just an inch away from a top. I quickly scan the result whether I recognize my partner or opponents, but the Brit, Norse and Turk have inconspicuous nicknames. To my random Norwegian partner: thank you for putting me in a nice slam and giving me the opportunity to shine.

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Bridge Big: My First Money

Hi all

Here is a deal from my first session on Bridge Big. As I wrote in my previous article Bridge Big is an online platform to play duplicate bridge for money. It’s low-threshold to start playing, but let me warn you, it’s not a casual game or for the faint of heart. The founders intend it to be a platform for serious & competitive bridge. Just like the game deserves. Go check it out.

Anyway, sitting South (White against Red) I pick up a wild hand:

South
A
-
JT9853
AJ8752

Oh boy! How am I going to sell this baby in an individual tournament setting? I decide to open 1 and this is what happens next:

West
North
East
South
 
 
 
1
Double
21
2
5
a.p.
 
 
 

1. Extraordinary

Partner raises? Partner raises? What? Come again? I end the auction with an uncivilized leap to 5.

LHO leads a trump and this is what I see:

North
J876
QT54
K762
9

I gasp as I see partner’s beautiful raise. I hold high respect for players and partners who support with support. I am slightly annoyed by the lead, though. If the opponents can play two rounds of trumps my contract depends on a 3-3 break in , or KQ tumbling. On a side note, the bidding is a little weird, NS hold a combined 16-count while East only bid 2. Who’s hogging all those digital face cards?

I duck in dummy and East wins his Queen. Just as I’m about to resign to my fate of down one East finds a shift to a . From there it’s easy, I ruff three in dummy and East gets to score trump Ace one day or another. Making.

This was the full deal:

West Dealer
NS Vul
North
J876
QT54
K762
9
West
Q954
AJ96
4
KQT4
East
KT32
K8732
AQ
63
South
A
-
JT9853
AJ8752

Kudos to West, a Dutch player by the way, for finding the killing trump lead. (When reviewing your results you can see the names of your partner and opponents.) Too bad his partner didn’t reward him for it. I imagine making a virtual high-five with my Bulgarian partner when the EUR 1.14 gets added to our individual accounts. Suddenly I wish I were playing for 5 EUR per IMP, perhaps when I find that money tree in my backyard.

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Excuse Me …

… while I kiss the sky.

Here’s a final deal from Purmerend, Kees (South) in action. Phantom Club home brew gives us this:

South
AT
AQ7
AK965
Q63
West
North
East
South
 
pass
pass
11
pass
22
pass
2NT3
pass
34
pass
3
pass
3NT
pass
4
a.p.
 
 
 

1. Takeout of a 1 opening, 15-17 NT, or any stronger hand
2. 4+ , 8+ hcp
3. 15+ NT, GF
4. Repeated transfer, showing 5+

Interesting inference here is that Kees knows I have a poor suit, with 8+ hcp and a good suit I probably would have opened. West starts with a small and this is what he sees:

North
KQ9
T8653
Q7
K82
South
AT
AQ7
AK965
Q63

With his usual eye for detail Kees wins the lead in hand, plops down trump Ace (safety play), crosses to dummy with a and then plays a trump to his Queen (West surrendering the Jack). He exits with his final trump to East who flicks a on the table.

North
K
T8
Q7
K82
South
-
-
AK965
Q63

The runs via the 5, West’s Jack to dummy’s Queen. With silky smoothness Kees takes a finesse against East’s presumed Ten and all depart on the train. Taking 12.

North Dealer
EW Vul
North
KQ9
T8653
Q7
K82
West
J87652
J4
J2
JT7
East
43
K92
T843
A954
South
AT
AQ7
AK965
Q63

Immediately burly East yells at his partner (a subdued looking female) for inserting the Jack. If she had played low then there wouldn’t have been a finessing position etc etc … I intervene and tell him in strict words:

  1. not to castigate partner
  2. he would have a hard time finding an expert partner who would recognize the situation and ignore the hardwired “3rd man high” law
  3. if he had wanted to prevent the 2nd uptrick he could/should have cashed the Ace of

I’ve been playing quite a few Cash Games at Bridge Big. It is big, big fun and currently I’m €31.97 in the plus. Supple interface, support for multiple devices, cheat-impossible and extremely addictive. Disclaimer: I do know both founders personally. 

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Emotions

Hi all

Welcome back. Here’s another deal from the “Koemarkttoernooi” in Purmerend. Kees and I sit down against two middle-aged ladies and we inform them of our ghostly agreements. Our mention of 12-14 NT openings gets greeted with: “How illogical!”. I snicker inside, that is what you find intriguing about Phantom Club? Oh boy! Sitting South I pick up:

South
A32
7432
A8652
6

A lot of action during the bidding.

West
North
East
South
1
pass
1
pass
2
Double
pass
31
3
pass
pass
42
pass
pass
4
Double3
a.p.

1. Good hand, weak hands go through Lebensohl 2NT
2. Slightly insane, but white in pairs I am Iron Man
3. Emotional

I lead my singleton and a scary dummy comes down.

West
KQJ
AKJ85
T
9875
South
A32
7432
A8652
6

I admire the raise on West’s beautiful 3-piece. I wait until Kees wins his Ace of to give me my ruff, but all he offers is a measly Ten and declarer wins it with the Queen. Yikes! How are we going to beat this? Declarer unperturbed starts on trumps and I win the second one. I can cross in to get my ruff but that’s equivalent to throwing the towel.

I take stock and visualize the play. If I cash my Ace and continue declarer will have to ruff with dummy’s final trump. In order to extract my last trump she will have to cross to her hand. Of course a ruff is the way to go, but maybe she’ll take the easy route by trying a . Then if I get my ruff we can cash another for down one.

Full deal:

West Dealer
EW Vul
North
76
Q96
KJ43
JT32
West
KQJ
AKJ85
T
9875
East
T9854
T
Q97
AKQ4
South
A32
7432
A8652
6

It works out as I visualized. East apologizes and though I can tell West shows some signs of disappointment she doesn’t berate her partner. That’s how I like to see it. Of course I myself don’t hide my anguish & distress over Kees’ takeout double of 2, I even document it here: Garbage Royale!

On a serious side note, I’m still hunting for a job. If you happen to be in need of an Oracle Developer/DBA with affinity for wireless tech spiced up with a tad of Java, or if you give me a little time to acquire whatever skills necessary (I learn fast!), take a look at my LinkedIn profile, or shoot me a message through the contact form in About Me. Thanks.

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Spooky

Hi all

Kees and I played in Purmerend last Saturday. Not too high profile, elderly opponents abundant, hopping from one bar to another on the “Koemarkt”, enjoying the sun, drinking Estaminet Premium Pils, and generally having a blast.

Did I mention we agreed to play Phantom Club? It’s a system that revolves around assuming your RHO has opened 1. So you can open aggressively having just overcall values and then practice all your partnership bidding agreements. Adam Meyerson wrote about it here. Spooky!

This was one of my grande moments:

South
AQJ62
AQ5
T4
A94

That’s a fairly pure 17-count. RHO opens in 3rd hand 1 and I have an easy overcall.

West
North
East
South
pass
pass
1
1
2
pass
pass
2
a.p.
 
 
 

I decide we won’t get rich by defending 2, so I rebid my . LHO starts with a and dummy comes down.

North
K5
T862
J98
T732
South
AQJ62
AQ5
T4
A94

It seems defending 2 would have been the right choice after all… RHO plays her top 3, and on the last one I have a decision to make. LHO has echoed a doubleton so I pitch a instead of ruffing, LHO discarding a . The lady on my right ponders for a while and puts down a 4th , looking for a promotion but giving me a sluff & ruff. LHO’s 7 forces dummy’s King while I pitch my last small .

North
5
T862
-
T732
South
AQJ62
AQ5
-
A

By now I’m fairly confident LHO is holding both missing honors for her 2 call and probably some cards, too. I wave to the waiter to order two beers and a strip squeeze with split fork. Come again? On my 5th trump this is the position:

North
-
T862
-
T
South
2
AQ5
-
A

I pay close attention to LHO’s final discard, here’s the little “if-then-else” I visualized:

If ( discard) 
then cash  Ace and exit , use  Ace as entry for free ;
If ( discard) 
then cash  Ace to strip West from , exit  Queen to place West;
Else 
Fatal Exception("Revoke bridge license");

I take 9.

West Dealer
EW Vul
North
K5
T862
J98
T732
West
T74
KJ9743
53
KJ
East
983
-
AKQ762
Q865
South
AQJ62
AQ5
T4
A94

Without the sluff & ruff I can work towards the same position for 8 tricks, East doesn’t have a to fire through me to prevent the placing.

After 32 boards Kees and I end up with 63.73% and a 5th place, good for some “Jonge Jenever” and Italian delicacies. We didn’t encounter any Ghost Busters… fortunately.

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+Jannes van 't Oever