Free Hugs

Hi all

Last week I took a stroll through the center of Utrecht. It was far from a special day, dry but not sunny, cold but not too cold for January, really nothing special at all. Then something remarkable caught my eye. Half a dozen people were carrying signs that said: “Free Hugs”.

Huh?

Yes, you could get hugs for free there. Unknown people hugging random people on the street for fun.

Normally I avoid people carrying signs, either they want money from me, or something else that eventually leads to me giving money to someone else. This was so totally different it left me speechless. With a bright smile I approached one of the girls carrying the sign. Nice.

Kicking off in 2007

Hi all

These best wishes at Star yesterday really paid off, René and I ended up first with 58something%. I felt relieved.

Lots of jedi mind tricks, all in smooth ease we seduced our opponents into making fatal mistakes. With decent and polite smiles we accepted all gifts.

I almost dare not tell you about René’s (well timed) weak jump in . The opponents ended up in 3NT and missed their best spot in 4. It’s no typo, René blasted them out of their 6-3 fit. You do the math: his weak jump was based upon how many ?

Here’s a little gem:

South Dealer
– Vul
North
T983
AT965
KJ4
K
West
AKQJ
73
Q6
AT542
East
74
Q842
T9853
Q8
South
652
KJ
A72
J9763

I passed as a dealer, West opened 1, René introduced his suit and I bid 1NT, ending the auction. West started with four rounds of and Ace of and to the Queen. East wasn’t really happy to be on lead and decided to lead a , my Jack winning the trick. Current layout:

South Dealer
– Vul
North
AT9
KJ4
West
7
Q6
T54
East
Q84
T98
South
K
A72
J9

I cashed the King of and the Jack. Now I noticed East started with only four black cards. I played a to the King and the Ace, West showing out. I have complete count, West is 4-2-2-5 and East 2-4-5-2. Confident I play from top, the Queen would either be doubleton in West’s hand, or East had been squeezed out of it already. My 7 of was the 7th trick. I have heard this is worth beer in some places, so where can I collect?

Quack… Duck

Hi all

Another game from last friday. Because of the fine, strong honors in South (no soft Queens or Jacks) I sold it as a 22-23 NT. Dennis put me in 3NT. I got the lead of a small (4th) and this is what I saw:

South Dealer
EW Vul
North
6
943
QT72
QJ975
South
AK74
AK62
AK6
83

I ducked both the lead and the continuation. When they pressed on in (wrong!, if the defence now shifts to a I will suffer the loss of five tricks) I won and played a to the Queen, East winning. Now a came back and here I could pluck the fruits of my early ducks. I took it and again a towards dummy, West rising. A fourth round of the pointy black suit followed, leaving me with an awkward discard in dummy:

North
QT72
J9

Do I discard a and play for the Ten to drop, or discard a and hope something good happens in ? A discard leaves more options open: 3-3 or the Jack doubleton or a squeeze against East. The Jack dropped doubleton (sorry, no squeeze), resulting in nine tricks.

I’m satisfied with my play. But I guess this game is more about defence, take two tricks and then shift to to develop the setting trick there, with as entry. I have to improve my defensive skills, because I’m not sure if I’m able to imagine such defence at the table.

Momentum

Hi all

Friday, Christmas drive at one of the other strong clubs in Utrecht (BCO). Though I’m no member anymore, I felt welcome the moment I entered the playing field. With Dennis this time, lucky me.

We played solid, here and there we bled some imp, but our opponents often returned the favour. Sitting South I held:

South
74
KQT963
A9743

I heard lefty pass, Dennis 1NT (12-14), and my RHO entered the bidding with a preemptive 3. What to do? This is how the bidding proceeded:

West
North
East
South
pass
1NT1
3
4
5
5
6
6
a.p.
 
 
 

1. 12-14

I had the right momentum in bidding 6, opposite a fitting hand and probably no wastage in it’s so close, I thought. And when it was passed around, it truly felt as if I had hit the soft spot.

West Dealer
– Vul
North
A8
8752
KQJ2
KJ6
West
QT963
J4
T5
9853
East
KJ52
A
86
AQT742
South
74
KQT963
A9743

When West started with a it was the end of the defence, I discarded the losing in dummy on my fifth after drawing trumps.
K’ching! 11 fat imp, for nobody had found this one.

Covering

Hi all

I have been silent for a couple of days. Last teams match was a disaster, and I have been, well… not myself lately. But let’s not get into that now. Here’s a game where I covered my ground. Maybe it’s plain simple, but I’m still proud of my nine tricks.

All vulnerable René opened 1, showing either 11-13 balanced, or 10-15 unbalanced with at least a four card suit , or 12-15 any 4441. My RHO overcalled 1 and I jumped to 3NT. West decided to lead the Ten and this is what I found in dummy:

North
K4
Q983
QJ96
A95
South
AT87
A5
K873
Q74

The lead ran to my Queen and I started on the , East took the second round and returned another won in dummy. Now I ducked a to West and he returned a , but it was too little too late. I took the trick with the King and cashed the Ace of , East discarding a . Now I played the 4 from dummy and East split his honors. I ducked, completing the placing. Now East, stripped from all his exits, had to play either a in my fork or a away from his King: nine tricks. I estimated East having the King, while he had shown a crummy suit and nothing but the Ace.

At the other table the defence started with a but the couldn’t keep their eye on the ball and declarer got home, too. Here’s the complete layout:

North Dealer
All Vul
North
K4
Q983
QJ96
A95
East
QJ953
KT6
AT4
62
West
62
J742
52
KJT83
South
AT87
A5
K873
Q74

Risotto with lemon

Hi all

I have a very, very fine risotto for you. It’s… it’s… just mindblowing tasteful!

Ingredients for 2 persons:
1 medium onion
2 stalks of celery
1 clove of garlic (optional)
200 grams of risotto rice
1 liter of stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 egg yolk
1 lemon
cream
parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, fresh rosemary

Remember, risotto is slow food, it needs touch, time and attention. But the result is so rewarding. Heat some olive oil and butter in a pan, slowly heat the chopped onion, celery and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and be carefull the vegetables don’t colour too much. Then add the risotto and stir until the rice looks a bit glassy. Slowly add the stock, please don’t drown the risotto. Add the zest of half a lemon and season with the pepper (just a little) and chopped rosemary.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolk, cream, zested parmesan cheese and the juice of half a lemon. I guess you can use something like 50-100 ml’s of cream, I didn’t really check. Now when the texture of the risotto is good, turn down the heat, add the egg-cream-lemon juice mixture and serve.

Succes guaranteed!

@Nigella: Thank you.

Strasbourg 6NT Galore, part 3

Hi all

Closing the Strasbourg series. Another beauty.

The bidding was “yada yada” 6NT. The South hand is minimal, but has good honors in the long suits and a good rebid available. North will then solo carry on to slam.

East Dealer
– Vul
North
A4
AKJ6
AKQ85
72
West
T9762
T743
JT
Q9
East
Q5
Q8
9632
JT853
South
KJ83
952
74
AK64

West started with a small via East’s Queen for Kees’ King. Kind of a strange lead for South had bid . Kees now counted his tricks, ten solid and offer a good source for extra tricks. So from top, the fourth round won by East. A came back, taken with the Ace. Kees crossed to the Ace and cashed the 13th , leading to this position, with eleven solid tricks now:

East Dealer
– Vul
North
AKJ6
7
West
T9
T7
Q
East
Q8
JT8
South
J8
9
K6

Kees played a to his King and saw West’s Queen coming down. Next he played the Jack of and it’s all curtains for East-West. West had to keep the suit guarded and East had to protect against South’s small . So they both had to let go of their guard. Kees didn’t need a finesse, he knew the Queen would fall under Ace-King. A fine double squeeze.

Strasbourg 6NT Galore, part 2

Hi all

As promised, the second story about a 6NT in Strasbourg. Here are the NS hands:

North
972
KJ64
Q862
Q2
South
K5
A83
AK7
AKJT5

After South had shown a 22-23 balanced and North inquired for a four card M, North (me) eventually made an enthusiastic leap to the small NT slam.

Kees was put to the sheer impossible task of not disappointing an enthusiastic partner. Even if the break, there are only eleven tricks. But West offered a hand by leading a small and when Kees called for the Jack, it won the trick. Kees played five rounds of and little pearls of sweat could be seen on West. He could follow suit two times, but then he let go of two small and then after a large pause… also the Ace of .

South Dealer
NS Vul
North
K64
Q862
West
QT7
T954
East
of
no
importance
!
South
K5
A8
AK7

When Kees put the dreaded (to West) King of on the table, West was squeezed again. West discards from some red suit and you discard the other from dummy. Claim thirteen tricks on a progressive squeeze. Nice!

Here’s the complete layout:

South Dealer
NS Vul
North
972
KJ64
Q862
Q2
West
A83
QT72
T954
84
East
QJT64
95
J3
9763
South
K5
A83
AK7
AKJT5

Click here for the wikipedia article on progressive squeezes.

Strasbourg 6NT Galore, part 1

Hi all

Today I was sitting in the train with half a dozen sweaty, blue and purple veined French cheeses. When the people in my coach started complaining to eachother about the air conditioning and the funny, funky smell around, I couldn’t suppress a blush. But I’m at home right now, “destroying” evidence.

So three days, starting today, a story about 6NT. Brought to you by Kees and me, they are all very pretty I promise you.

South Dealer
All Vul
North
A
AJ763
KQT5
A94
West
J864
K852
J76
75
East
732
T9
843
KT632
South
KQT95
Q4
A92
QJ8

The bidding wasn’t very interesting, I opened 1, Kees invited for a NT slam after showing his suit, accepted by me. The lady sitting West started with a for East’s King. A came back, and now, two tricks too late, I took stock to formulate a plan.

The King has to be onside to even have a chance for twelve tricks. And something good has to happen in as well. So the winning plan for twelve tricks is there: squeeze West out of her Majors. I crossed to hand with the Ace of and played the Queen, covered, for the Ace in dummy. Now three more rounds of (me discarding a ) and the Ace of .

South Dealer
All Vul
North
J763
9
West
J84
85
East
73
T
T6
South
KQT
4
Q

Now when I crossed to my hand with the Queen of West was squeezed. Either the would break or the would come in. We’re finally home with twelve tricks.