Points Schmoints

Hi all

I have a lot of nice deals, keep in touch this week. Here’s one from Friday where I played with Dennis.

South
J9863
K8532
7
QT

Your RHO opens a 15-17 NT. All vulnerable I didn’t dare to enter the bidding with this garbage. LHO passes too, but Dennis doubled, showing and another suit (Lionel). RHO bids 2 and now I had something to think about. My lack of points was more than compensated by my distribution and major fit, so I jumped to 3, invitational. Dennis raised me to game.

East Dealer
All Vul
North
KT52
6
A64
AJ972
West
Q4
QJ94
T952
543
East
A7
AT7
KQJ83
K86
South
J9863
K8532
7
QT

There was nothing to the play, the Queen was where I wanted her to be. So, what about this law of not bidding game when the opponents open a strong NT? Here there are ten cold tricks with just 18 hcp together.

We finished first smoothly: +53 imp.

Sweet Potato Soup

Hi all

Another fine recipe. It made me feel all glowy on the inside.

Curry paste:
4-5 dried red chili’s
chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic
chopped lemongrass (a full teaspoon)
some coriander, cumin & salt
1/2 a teaspoon of shrimp paste (use more for sweeter taste)

Use a vice to grind all the ingredients together, physical labour is a good thing. But the lazy ones can use a kitchenmachine as well. When finished add some sunflower oil, keep the curry paste in a closed jar in the refrigerator. It doesn’t stay good forever, but up to 2 weeks it should.

Ingredients:
1 kg of sweet potatoes (cut into pieces)
6 dl chicken or vegetable stock
4 dl coconut cream
peas (I use about 250 gr for 1 liter soup)
1 spoonful of curry paste

Preparation:
Heat the curry paste in a large pan until you have set free the aromas. Add the pieces of potato, stock and coconut cream and bring to boil. On low fire cook until the potatoes are tender. Use a kitchenmachine to get the soup smooth and silky. Add the peas and heat for a couple more minutes. Serve.

Overruled

Hi all

Last night, after 16 boards René and I had collected an impressive amount of 61 imp. Minus! I just sat there and wave after wave kept hitting me. Evenings like this make you want to crawl back into your cave and sleep until spring. But things changed in the last twelve boards, we clawed back 38 imp. Still leaving us at a very meager total of -23.

South
7
964
AKQJ83
A96

Is this hand worth a strong ? It has a lot of playing strength, but it’s just . So I opted for 1. René starts the party with a gameforcing 1NT.

West
North
East
South
 
 
 
11
pass
1NT2
pass
23
pass
24
pass
35
pass
3NT
pass
???
 

1. 11-13 balanced, 10-15 unbalanced 4+ , or 12-15 any 4441
2. GF relay
3. , unbalanced
4. relay
5. Singlesuited

3NT is end, but I had a lot of playing strength I had not shown yet. I overruled René’s 3NT with 4, showing a very good suit with strong slam aspirations. René cooperated with a cue, I cued in , René continued with 5 and that was enough to launch me to slam.

South Dealer
NS Vul
North
T54
AKJ85
7
KQ73
West
AJ832
3
T652
T85
East
KQT6
QT72
94
J42
South
7
964
AKQJ83
A96

You can combine your chances of a 3-3 split (or Jack doubleton) with a finesse in . A few pairs reached the slam in but failed due to the bad break in trumps. This 13 imp gain was definitely the turning point in the evening.

Fantunes-ish

Hi all

Last Thursday at Dombo Sjoerd and I agreed to play something Fantunes-ish. For those who are not familiar with the (surprisingly natural) Italian system: all 1-level openings are 13+ hcp and forcing for 1 round, all 2-level openings are natural, 5+ card suit with 9-12 hcp. Constructive all the way. There were some gadgets and tricks involved, but 20 minutes of system talk is hardly enough to discuss every implication of a forcing NT, let alone all the inversions and transfers that Fantoni and Nunes play together.

Here’s a 3NT:

North
A63
AK84
J9852
7
South
KQ74
52
K64
A964

Sjoerd (North) opened 2 showing a 5+ card suit, 9-12 hcp. I looked for a fit and ended up in 3NT. I liked my King a lot, otherwise an invite on a not so special 12 count is frivolous at best. I was spared a  lead, West led a small . Plan the play!

Source of tricks: . Three can be developed there, but the defence will surely shift to  when they see the massive NS holding. Put some smoke up, try to obscure things.

Let the lead run to your Queen, now play a small to the 8. East takes it and will try to clear partner’s suit. Now play a from dummy and you will probably have enough information to do the right thing. I think tackling the suit this way obscures things best for EW. But you have to hope West doesn’t (or can’t) rise on the small , because West can see there is no future in .

West Dealer
NS Vul
North
A63
AK84
J9852
7
West
JT82
T9
Q73
Q852
East
95
QJ763
AT
KJT3
South
KQ74
52
K64
A964

So the plan above will probably work out. My plan was a shade different, but along the line I took a wrong guess and went off.

What about the system? I like it a lot, a very natural touch, but with a robust relaying engine and enough gadgets to keep my convention hunger satisfied. Feel free to drop me a line (see the “About me..” page) if you have any suggestions, or if you are just interested in developing/following something fun and working.

Dutch Squeeze

Hi all

Little to tell. Here’s a +12 imp story from Star yesterday.

North
63
AKJ964
KQ5
A6

South
8
Q753
AT972
J83

René (North) opened a strong . He found out the giant fit in before the heavy interference in obstructed too much. Imagining a stiff in my hand was a bit of a gamble, but paid out very well when he jumped to the cold slam in (only 24 hcp together!).

Here’s a nice Dutch Squeeze from (and by) Martin:

West Dealer
All Vul
North
Q87
A653
K94
T52
West
T9
JT8
T7532
AKQ
East
J53
Q9
AJ86
9864
South
AK642
K742
Q
J73

A normal board from just another night at the bridge club.

The auction was not very exciting: pass – pass – pass – 1 – pass – 2 – a.p.

I was declarer and West started with three rounds of and switched to a . With five obvious losers (three , one and one ) it seems normal to take the with the King, pull trumps and play a diamond. However, not completely awake on this partscore, I took the with the Ace after which I started thinking. As I had removed the safe entry to the King, the best line is probably to play two rounds of trumps, before surrendering a to maximize the changes in case the split 4-1. I, however, played three rounds of before I played the Queen. North took and returned the fourth .

West Dealer
All Vul
North
65
K9
West
T8
T7
East
Q
J86
South
6
K74

On the last West was caught in a Dutch squeeze (patented by Bob Slavenburg). If I would have had a less and the Jack instead, West had to keep the Ten guarded to prevent declarer from overtaking the Jack. In that case East still has a stopper. West had no idea, discarded a and there it was: the overtrick.

Coffee in Italy

Hi all

Espresso, a short, sharp bolt of strong black coffee. I’m hooked, without coffee my life would grind to a halt. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I fell in love with the liquid black gold when I was just a little boy.

In Italy, espresso is considered so essential to daily life that the price is regulated by the government. Be aware, however, that these regulated prices apply to items consumed while standing at the bar. The prices for those same items increase, sometimes dramatically, when you sit at a table.

When I first heard this, I thought they were talking nonsense to me, I couldn’t believe it. But it’s really truly true. It so shows that when this law passed, people understood what was really important in daily life.

Here’s a picture. Me drinking coffee in the morning. Don’t start about bad hairdays, it was day four of a music festival in Denmark. You are supposed to look a bit sloppy.

Aaah.... coffee
 

Open Dutch Pairs Qualifiers

Hi all

Yesterday Martin and I participated in the qualifiers for the Open Dutch Championships Pairs. It was a rough night, we crossed about every strong opponent in the room and took some less fortunate decisions. What do you think about this one?

North
5
QJT96
83
QJT95

All vulnerable, my RHO passed and so did I. LHO opens 2, either weak with or any semiforcing+. Martin overcalls 2 and I jump to game. Without taking a split second pause LHO bids 4. Martin competes with 5, RHO 5 and I was willing to compete to the 7 level. I bid a descriptive 6 and Martin finally got doubled in 6.

North
5
QJT96
83
QJT95

South
AK743
K9752
A62

Well, don’t you just want to claim twelve tricks? East certainly has everything for his gameforcing hand in , doesn’t he? Martin took a confident finesse in . Bad news: it was offside. 

West Dealer
All Vul
North
5
QJT96
83
QJT95
West
J9763
82
QT6
K83
East
AKQT842
5
AJ4
74
South
AK743
K9752
A62

I have seen this before, people thinking a solid suit with an outside trick is worth a semiforcing.

Sigh!

I could barely suppress the urge to put a flamethrower on my opponent when he mentioned he did good this game. We scored 54%, occupying place 5, about 1% short in qualfying for next round. Better luck next year.

Teams March 3rd, part 2

Hi all

Yesterday I showed you a game where Sjoerd was looking for gold. Today it’s about hitting gold:

North
AK6
AKJT94
AK
82

Again an “Utrecht strong 1NT”. Sjoerd answered 2, showing 6+ hcp but less than three Napolitan controls. Wim bid his and Sjoerd bid a semi-positive 2NT, Wim 3 (nothing else to bid). Now Sjoerd gave one little push with a 4 cue. Wim blasted straight to the slam.

North Dealer
– Vul
North
AK6
AKJT94
AK
82
West
J
Q62
J954
KT543
East
QT842
83
T82
Q96
South
9753
75
Q763
AJ7

Wim had no real troubles after a lead. Va banque he played: Ace of , Ace and King of , to the Ace, discard a loser on the Queen and finesse against the Queen of trumps. Agreed, slam isn’t really odds on, but a slam that makes is a good slam.

Teams March 3rd, part 1

Hi all

Last Saturday the teams season closed. We occupied a solid spot in the middle, but a lot happened in the top, favourite teams losing to underdogs. If we had scored 50 VIP out of 2 matches (instead of 36) then promotion would have been ours. Alas!

I was kibitzing Sjoerd in the second match (René and I played just the first match):

South
A
AKQJ52
A743
AQ

Nice. Sjoerd and Wim play some crazy system: Utrechtse Klaver. Canapé style with a strong 1NT opening. And by strong I mean 23+ balanced or 21+ unbalanced. DONT or Landy are not advised unless you are prepared for a massacre. The hand above fits nicely in their system, but it’s not your turn yet. Your LHO opens 1, passed to you.

Sjoerd started with double, buying the hand in 4.

West Dealer
All Vul
North
9832
63
T92
T432
West
KQJ54
84
KJ
K876
East
T76
T97
Q865
J95
South
A
AKQJ52
A743
AQ

Too bad the didn’t split. There are some remote chances of establishing an endplay if West takes a nap on the run of trumps, but 4 can always be defeated (West should keep a small ). Sjoerd had some fantasies of finding partner with a magic hand, but later he agreed to my practical suggestion: 3NT. You have 9 solid tricks, so do the obvious thing.

Arroz Con Pollo

Hi all

Here’s a very nice recipe. The first time I prepared it, it made me feel all glowy inside. True soulfood. It’s called Arroz con Pollo, which means Rice with Chicken in Spanish. It’s an easy, stove-top, one-pan dish.

Chicken
olive oil
2.5 to 3 pounds of chicken thighs or breasts, bone-in, with skin on, rinsed and patted dry
flour for dredging
paprika powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rice
olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups of medium or long-grain white rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes, strained
pinch of oregano
salt

Directions
1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet (a skillet that has a cover) on medium high heat. Put the flour in a wide bowl, mix in a generous sprinkling of salt, paprika powder and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces lightly in the flour mixture and put in the pan to brown. (You can skip the flour dredging part if you want, it just makes a nicer coating for the chicken.) Cook a few minutes on each side, just enough so that the chicken has browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Add the rice to the pan to brown. Add a little more olive oil if necessary. Stir first to coat the rice with the olive oil in the pan. Then don’t stir too much or you will prevent it from browning. Let it brown and then stir a little to let more of it brown. Then add the onion and garlic. Cook the onion, garlic and rice mixture, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened, about 4 minutes.

3. Place the chicken pieces, skin-side up, on top of the rice. In a separate bowl, mix together the stock, tomato, salt, and oregano. Pour the stock mixture over the rice and chicken. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cover. Let cook for 20-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice until the rice and chicken are done. Fluff the rice with a fork. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

You can also add chopped bell peppers (cook with the onions), peas (mix in at the end), or use a bit of saffron with the rice.

Serves 4-6, thumbs up!