Degrees of Freedom

Hi all

2015 is approaching fast. I can’t believe it’s already 4 months ago since I wrote my last story. Is it the Amsterdam vibe that’s propelling me forward at ludicrous speeds? I do have embraced Amsterdam, I frequent fancy bars and restaurants, local breweries know me by my first name, and I mesh well with the people here.

About a week ago I passed my ITIL Foundation exam. Stuff about IT services management, best practices, delivering value, plan-do-check-act cycles and more. It wasn’t too hard, but dry it certainly was *cough*. I don’t recall ever having read such dense and uninspiring material. Oh well, I passed so I can allow myself a not too smug little fist pump, not?

My bridge has been quite good (barely any Bridge Big, though), I feel confident at the table and Viking stunts are abundant. Here’s a deal from a recent match:

South
AKQ9
J84
AJ
8753
West
North
East
South
 
 
pass
1NT1
pass
22
pass
2
pass
33
pass
3
pass
34
pass
45
pass
4NT6
pass
57
pass
6
a.p.
 
  1. 14-16
  2. Transfer
  3. Puppet to 3
  4. Slam try with singleton
  5. Not interested
  6. Keys?
  7. Two without trump Queen

Kees found his hand too heavy with potential to stick to just game so I end up at the helm in 6. West leads a low and this is what I see:

North
6
AK9753
Q62
AQ6
South
AKQ9
J84
AJ
8753

I win the lead cheaply with my Jack. If trumps break 2-2 I’m cold for 13. But as soon as I play a trump to dummy I see bad news, East is holding all four of them. Suddenly even taking just 12 is challenging. East rises with his Queen when I continue with a trump towards my Jack and switches back to .

Now let’s play close attention to that !

I’ll boldly state that most players would switch to seeing that singleton in dummy, trying to stifle declarer’s transportation and communication. Little glory in switching back to . On a return I would have had no chance but to cash my trump Jack, pitch a and a on my top and take a hook to get to 12 tricks. No more than 50% chance of getting home safely.

On a return I quickly visualized a four-card ending with both minor suit Queens and two black 6’s in dummy opposite AKQ9 in my hand. Now if both opponents are holding one King, neither one of them can hold a four-card suit (a Double Whammy!). It is a Single Whammy! against an opponent who is holding at least one King and JT-4th of , or any 5-crd suit. To me the squeeze approach feels easily more than 50%, but calculating this is currently beyond me.

This was the full deal:

East Dealer
NS Vul
North
6
AK9753
Q62
AQ6
West
J854
KT753
KJ94
East
T732
QT62
984
T2
South
AKQ9
J84
AJ
8753

Down one. No magnetic squeeze whatsoever in sight. A pedestrian finesse would have worked out. Life’s just too cruel sometimes.

So back to that return by my opponent. It offered me a chance to go wrong. An extra degree of freedom to hang myself. To me this is beautiful bridge, one deal you actively funnel your opponents into losing plays, another you gently create opportunities for those same opponents to go wrong.

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