Seattle – Breaking Ground

Hi all

So Geoff and I teamed up with Bill & Drew to stretch our muscles in a compact knockout a week ago on Thursday. Our teammates have the slam engine on and we easily make it to the semis. This is what happened when we’re two boards into the match.

West
North
East
South
 
 
 
11
???
 
 
 
  1. 15-17 bal, or stronger any shape

Geoff opens 1, showing a 15-17NT or a stronger hand of any shape. West now decides to consult his partner about their defence against such a opening. All of us are baffled at the question, but East is awake enough to respond that discussing this during the auction is not appropriate. West continues with the words: “So we have no agreements whatsoever?!?”. By now the director is present at the table and after hearing what happened, strongly reprimands West with the words:”You have single handedly made sure this board is almost unplayable. If you make any more noise, I’ll cancel the board and hand you a procedural penalty.”

The board was a flat 3NT, so nothing happened. But consider this, we’re playing in the 17,000 to 30,000 masterpoints bracket. Unreal!

That we didn’t win the event is mostly on my account. I failed to compete to a vulnerable 3 of a minor on a sub-minimal hand and I paid the price with a double part score swing. That was the difference and we settle for a 3rd place overall.

Here’s me having a full grasp of what’s happening at the table. I had all my antennas out.

West
North
East
South
 
1NT1
pass
pass
DBL
pass
pass
22
DBL
23
2
pass
3
pass
4
a.p.
  1. 11-14
  2. + higher suit (running scared)
  3. Genuine suit, redouble would have asked for my 2nd suit
South
54
8654
AT73
983

I knew that Geoff was short in , and dummy would put down reasonable power. So I decide to underlead my Ace, to give declarer an immediate guess. I knew I hit the jackpot when dummy came down. Full deal:

West Dealer
NS Vul
North
J2
AKQ72
Q85
754
West
AQ63
J9
KJ94
AK2
East
KT987
T3
62
QJ62
South
54
8654
AT73
983

Declarer tried the Jack but Geoff won the Queen and we quickly cashed out. Later in the play declarer would have gathered some more information, and he might as well have taken the right guess. On the lead that is so much more difficult.

Seattle Buzz

Hi all

Thanksgiving was turkey-free and I’ve stayed clear from any black Friday (or Cyber Monday) madness. I will leave for Seattle on Wednesday. For Thursday I’m still a bit on the fence, either go check out Seattle or getting warmed up at some small side event. I’ll let the rain decide. Then Geoff and I will join forces with our team mates and enter the Keohane North American Swiss Teams.

The deal below is from the home knock out series I talked about earlier:

South
A6543
74
AT862
3
West
North
East
South
 
21
3
4
5
pass
pass
Double
a.p.
 
 
 
  1. Exactly 4 card suit, 8-12 hcp, unbalanced

I had an easy raise to game after Geoff opened 2, but when the opponents competed to 5 I decided to draw my axe. Two quick tricks, a clear lead, 8-12 hcp sitting across and vulnerable opponents seemed enough for a decently bloody reward. I lead my stiff and dummy puts down:

West
8
KQ8
KQ53
JT754
South
A6543
74
AT862
3

Urgh! That’s quite a good dummy. The travels via partner’s Queen to declarer’s Ace. A hits the table and I’m pretty sure it’s a singleton. So I rise and now I’m at crossroads. Where is Geoff’s entry? At this point I’m pretty confident Geoff is holding a 4-1-3-5 (maybe a 4-2-2-5) with King – Queen of , Jack and a mystery card.

Partner has followed with just small cards so far, nothing to encourage me to underlead my Ace. But if Geoff doesn’t hold an entry in then we’re not going to defeat it, I decide. I whisper a small prayer and lead a low . Low … Low … And slightly higher. Something inside me shatters in uncountable little painful fragments.

I write down -850. Full deal:

North Dealer
EW Vul
North
JT72
A
J94
KQ982
West
8
KQ8
KQ53
JT754
East
KQ9
JT96532
7
A6
South
A6543
74
AT862
3

Declarer was ready for -500, but after I had won the Ace and considering my enormous pause, he understood the predicament I was in. That declarer afterwards confirmed the magnitude of my defensive problem and agreed with my play provided a little solace after all.

In retrospect I probably should have taken all the small cards at face value. Unusual cards at unusual moments reveal a specific holding or signal and I guess it works the other way as well. It is too much to ask for at the table, but if North (with exceptional & high speed visualization skills) does not cover the in trick one, it will lead to a successful defeat of the contract, stuck in dummy declarer has no plan, play or prospects.

Trickery

Hi all

There have been some very local earthquakes (USGS). Raleigh’s and Café Intermezzo on Telegraph have been condemned and will probably have to be demolished after a big fire last Friday. And again I’m surprised how cold it can get in California during the rain season. It’s unreal.

Here’s a nice deal from a home knock-out series. Sitting South Geoff and I had a fast auction to the NT game.

North
K84
AK5
98764
98
South
AQ72
QT7
QJ
KQ74

West leads the 2 (4th best).

So looks like the suit to tackle. I win the in dummy and play a to my Jack, West winning the Ace. Another and I find myself in a bind. If I win in hand to play the Queen I’m basically depending on the Ten dropping or East having the Ten and the Ace (so that West never gets to collect the 13th ). Prospects are bleak at best.

I decide to go for a little swindle. See if my RHO is awake.

I win the in dummy and smoothly request another from dummy, playing towards my stiff Queen. East doesn’t look too concerned and my Queen wins the trick. When the break evenly I’m home.

South Dealer
NS Vul
North
K84
AK5
98764
98
West
J93
8632
AT5
AJ3
East
T65
J94
K32
J652
South
AQ72
QT7
QJ
KQ74

As it turns out there’s no legal way to 9 tricks. Sometimes I really feel like the Hideous Hog, taking the tricks I’m entitled to and a few that belong to the opponents, too.

Glory for Grabs

Hi all

Trentemöller Saturday night at the Fillmore was awesome. Most of the tracks of Into The Great White Yonder translated very well to the live stage.

Here’s a challenge for you. Eternal glory for grabs if you manage to provide a watertight line to 6. The hand records show that 12 tricks are cold, where 6NT is somewhat easier than 6 (deal 8, rotated for convenience). I was sitting West and led a trump. Good luck.

South Dealer
– Vul
North
Q642
KT5
AKQJT5
West
63
KJT8
7642
963
East
AJ954
953
3
8742
South
KQT872
A7
AQJ98

Orange

Hi all

My bridge has been slow and uneventful, but the Dutch are on fire in The Bermuda Bowl. The ladies ended their streak in the semis against France. And in an extremely tight match (semi-finals) the guys secured a win in the last session by bidding & making two slams missed by the Italians (“Eat Orange Dust!). Only USA 2 is standing between them and the title. For Vugraph schedule and bulletins: http://www.worldbridge.org/tourn/Veldhoven.11/Veldhoven.htm

On the deal below I don’t know what happened. Maybe I got jedi-mind-tricked myself, or a sneeze blocked my train of thought, or a cow flew by, or the magnetic pull of an uninteresting side suit diverted my attention from the important one.

West
North
East
South
1
21
pass
4
a.p.
 
  1. Intrepid
North
AK8
K986532
A5
4
South
Q76532
KT84
QT8

My LHO started with the Ace and a . Unthinkingly I pitched a from dummy (setting up my Queen) and that was the beginning of my downfall. I will not reveal what happens next, but my line of play mostly depended on trumps splitting 2-2.

Had I pitched a instead, this story would have been rosy and filled with chest beating pride. Instead I’m kicking myself for playing before thinking, wallowing in self pity and having fleeting dreams of a Bermuda Bowl far beyond my reach. I know it’s just a learning opportunity, but still …

Life gets so much easier if you discard the other red suit instead. You can ruff a low without too much fear of getting overruffed. Comfortable communication still intact, and virtually a cloudless sky to soar home through. You can count six in your hand, two , the Queen and a ruff in dummy.

East Dealer
All Vul
North
AK8
K986532
A5
4
West
J94
QJ7
J9762
A6
East
T
AT4
Q3
KJ97543
South
Q76532
KT84
QT8

Cheers!

On a side note: the comment section is fixed again after a permissions problem.

Thievery

Hi all

This deal is from the BBQ Swiss in El Cerrito. We started the first round (7 board match) with a 71 – 0 imp win. That’s a record for me, too bad there’s no carry-over. Later in the day an expensive bidding misunderstanding and a defensive error by me basically cost us the overall victory.

This deal is … spectacular:

South
AJT843
Q72
J973
West
North
East
South
1
pass
4NT
pass
5
pass
5
a.p.

I had a nice, distributional hand, but entering the 5-level at unfavorable vulnerability seemed not … imp positive. The auction ended abruptly in 5. Andrew led the King and dummy puts down:

 
East
KQ
AKT94
J92
T84
South
AJT843
Q72
J973

Really? 4NT? Sure, East has awesome trump support, but that flattish distribution doesn’t guarantee safety above game level, any safety actually. Andrew’s King wins the trick and so does his Ace. Later I get my Queen of trumps and Ace for down two. East glares at her partner and inquires about her partner’s high card points. This was the full deal:

West Dealer
NS Vul
North
9652
87653
AK62
West
7
J8653
AKQT4
Q5
East
KQ
AKT94
J92
T84
South
AJT843
Q72
J973

As you can see we could have extracted a couple more points from this deal. A lead by North and NS can take the first six tricks against any contract. But there’s an even bigger bounty for NS! With the working voids, great fit and the Queen dropping there are twelve tricks for grabs in . I guess East blasting to 4NT had its merits after all, it completely obfuscated exploring our potential. I’m pretty sure this was not a conscious action by my RHO, though.

Little Voice

Hi all

Some general updates before I get to the bridge main course:

  • Portishead will be performing in the Greek Theatre here in Berkeley, and Trentemøller a week later in SF. Yay!
  • Another trip to The Netherlands planned early September to attend multiple weddings.
  • I’ve traded in my struggles with CDMA for preliminary testing work on LTE.

Here’s a nice defensive problem. Of course I was unable to solve it at the table. Usually I need at least two windows of opportunity to grab what I want.

South
AKQ
5
KQT4
JT962
West
North
East
South
3
pass
4
.. pass1
a.p.
 
 
 
  1. I was close to doubling for takeout, but a small voice in the back of my head said no.

Partner leads the King and this is what I see.

 
East
T652
A9
A72
A843
South
AKQ
5
KQT4
JT962

Declarer asks for the Ace, I play my Jack and declarer follows small. Then he takes about three minutes before asking for a small from dummy. Huh! What? I win with the Queen and consider my proceedings. Does declarer have Jack – 4th in and is he looking for his 10th trick? Rectifying some count? A discovery play perhaps?

What’s happening?

I play my King of to find out about my partner’s count. I get the 9 message: odd. I don’t believe he has three, so that leaves declarer with a singleton. I revert back to and declarer ruffs.

Suddenly it hit me like a dumb bag of bricks. Declarer is 1-7-4-1 and combines a 3-3 split in with the possibility of ruffing a with trump Ace.

Yes, declarer plays a to dummy’s Ace (via partner’s Jack) and I win the 3rd perforce (partner pitching his Queen of ). I see that a trump switch is too little too late now, so I try to promote a trump in partner’s hand. But declarer ruffs my with the 8 and partner takes another pitch. Declarer’s fourth gets eaten by trump Ace and the remainder gets claimed quickly.

West Dealer
All Vul
North
J9743
763
J8
KQ7
West
8
KQJT842
9653
5
East
T652
A9
A72
A843
South
AKQ
5
KQT4
JT962

When I was in with the Queen of I remember fingering the small trump in my hand briefly. In retrospect that was the Decision Point of the deal (apologies for making such a blatant Bush reference). I was so close to finding the deadly defence! I would need partner to be fully alert as well, he’d better ruff my winner (the 3rd ) as entry to be able to play a second round of trumps. Leaving declarer with four losers: three in and one in . And game, set & match for the defence. Alas!, this time it was not to be.

Toronto – Aftermath

Hi all

I had a blast in Toronto. Pleasant city, nice summer weather that allowed for wearing shorts when staggering home at 2 am and boatloads of bridge. After getting handed the towel in the mini on Thursday, Michael and I played in the A/x pairs. In the afternoon session we made little mistakes and accepted all gifts, so we won our section. In the evening some errors crept in as well as a couple of bad judgment calls and we ended up with 55something% overall. Having pummelled Sadek & Hussein I consider my greatest feat.

Here’s a deal that has been bugging me. I’ve seen several iterations of it, but directors generally refuse to do anything about it, except have supposedly correcting small talk with the offenders.

South
5
AKQJT62
A74
T4
West
North
East
South
 
 
 
1
DBL
2
2
4
4
pass
pass
51
DBL
a.p.
 
 
  1. I just need so little from partner to score 11 tricks, while holding virtually nothing in defence

West pushes a double through the table and leads the Ace. This is what I see:

North
A9
9853
JT962
84
South
5
AKQJT62
A74
T5

West takes the first two and then switches to a . Piece of cake, I win the Ace, ruff a with a top trump, cross to dummy with a small one and pass a top to West effectively placing her. After that I had to explain my claim twice (!) and wrote down -200. It’s a perfect save against a no-brainer 4.

This was the full deal:

South Dealer
NS Vul
North
A9
9853
JT962
84
West
QT62
7
KQ5
AKQ93
East
KJ8743
4
83
J762
South
5
AKQJT62
A74
T5

At the other table South decided his hand was worth a 2 opening, showing a big hand. My teammates interfered with some suction action, but didn’t take out 4 because they were expecting a different type of hand. Fortunately South’s declarer play matched his bidding capabilities, down one and just a loss of 3 imps. Opening 2 on those types of hands, besides making me cringe, really warrants some kind of pre-alert in my opinion.

Toronto – End of the Road

Hi all

The streak has ended. In a pleasant and swingy match we were 4 imps short of making it to the Final Four. Bitter. But a bit sweet too, Michael and I had a good connection for a first time partnership and the overall experience was satisfactory.

Here’s a bright example of Michael operating delicately (I was sitting North):

North
984
976
A874
AK6
West
North
East
South
 
 
 
11
pass
22
pass
43
pass
54
pass
65
a.p.
 
 
 
  1. 4+ , guaranteed unbalanced
  2. Inverted
  3. Splinter
  4. Fast arrival
  5. I’ve got a monster

Even though responding hand is so balanced, I felt alright about my inverted raise. Prime values, almost always a 9 card fit and with those empty Majors other calls were out of the question. Michael’s splinter didn’t hit the soft spot, so to say. Quite the opposite actually, so I fast-arrivaled to the game. Michael raised himself to slam.

West started with the Queen and this is what he saw:

North
984
976
A874
AK6
South
AK62
AQT
KQJ953

Michael cashed both top pitching from his hand, then he ruffed the remaining with trump King. The Queen (unblocking the 8 from dummy) showed that West started with all three of them. Next came both top , and the 5 via the 6 for dummy’s 7. The ruffed with trump Jack and then cross to dummy while drawing the last trump to reach this position:

North
976
4
South
AQT
3

Strip complete and a to the Ten placed West: +920. The other table ended up playing NT scoring 11 tricks.

North Dealer
EW Vul
North
984
976
A874
AK6
West
QT
J84
T62
QJ942
East
J753
K532
T8753
South
AK62
AQT
KQJ953

From left to right: Bill, Michael, me and Drew. Thanks guys!

Toronto – Wild Waters

Hi all

The Great Eight it is! Yesterday we beat a southern flavored team, thick accent, very chatty & a tad flaky. They had three kickback blunders, but were fortunate enough to stumble into making contracts. Their conservative approach served them well with a couple of significant pickups by staying in part scores when game values where present.

The match started with a pass-out in deal one. Immediately after that I get to test the waters, wild waters:

South
KQJ76
2
AKT7432
West
North
East
South
 
3NT1
4
62
a.p.
 
 
 

1. Gambling
2. Shooting the moon

It was a bit of a stab to jump to 6, I agree. I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time, but I envisioned loads and loads of tricks. Ruffing a with my tiny 2, my good suit that is so easy to set up with no direct entry. Carelessness at its prime. Anyway, this was the full deal:

North Dealer
EW Vul
North
T4
963
AKQT754
8
West
A83
T8
J96
QJ965
East
952
AKQJ7542
83
South
KQJ76
2
AKT7432

At my table West decided to start the defence with the Ace. After a pause she shrugged and led a for me to ruff. Plain sailing from here, cross to the Ten (thank you, thank you, thank you!), draw trumps, and back to the Ace to discard every non-trump on my black winners.

Funny that at the other table the auction was the same, with one small exception: Bill (West) doubled. When he led the Queen his partner ruffed, back to the Ace and another . When South decided to ruff high that promoted the Jack to CEO for a super-sized pickup.