Space Oddity

Hi all

David Bowie’s Space Oddity has been reworked to a children’s book. You can find it on Andrew Kolb’s website here. It really makes me tick, the lyrics and graphics blend extremely well. A job well done.

Update October 2, 2011: Lawyers got attracted from the significant exposure, smelling blood or money (or both), so a Cease & Desist was unavoidable. I guess one could google for “SpaceOddity_AndrewKolb.pdf”, you might find something wonderful.

Here’s me swinging from a tree somewhere on the Berkeley hills at sunset. Yihaa!

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.

Toronto – Coup

Hi all

We’re still in. We had a little bit of a slow start yesterday, down by 7 after the first quart, ahead by 18 after the second, lose a few so ahead by 7, but the finish was clean: +59. The Québécois opponents were pretty solid and competent, here’s an example.

West
AT4
2
T954
AQT64
West
North
East
South
 
 
pass
1
2
Double
pass
2
pass
31
pass
3
pass
4
a.p.
 

1. Asking for a stopper

After the auction above I had a pretty good idea of what was happening. Sitting West I chose to lead my Ace, for the opponents have told me my partner has something complementary. This was the full deal:

East Dealer
– Vul
North
K653
A
AQJ62
J83
West
AT4
2
T954
AQT64
East
972
T8765
87
K95
South
QJ8
KQJ943
K3
72

Ace and the Ten (suit preference-ish) for partner’s King. Michael switched to a for my Ace and declarer ruffed my Queen. South quickly found out about the bad trump split, but because parity had been reached he didn’t have a lot of trouble visualizing and executing the trump coup (lead from dummy until East surrenders).

Had Michael continued instead of switching, declarer would have ruffed, but now the timing is different. A to the Ace, back to the King and then the bad news. Now if declarer plays a I can rise and play a fourth , Michael can sluff a and declarer is fatally tapped.

Toronto – Zero Tolerance

Hi all

We’ve made it to day 2 in the mini-Spingold. After the first 28 boards we were down by 51 imp and prospects were glum. Oops!, let me correct that, down by 48, because our opponents got a 3 imp “Zero Tolerance”-penalty for being rude to my teammates and the director. So we straightened our backs, started swinging a bit and behold, after three quarters of the match we were down by 13.

I’m on lead after this exchange:

West
North
East
South
 
1
pass
2
pass
2
pass
3NT
pass
41
pass
42
pass
42
pass
53
pass
64
a.p
 

1. Slam try
2. Cue (first round controls only)
3. Enough
4. No it’s not

West
K95
9872
AT4
T94

I see that everything is breaking nicely for declarer. My holding looks terrible in front of the bidder, so that’s where I started my defence. I led a , trying to scare declarer into a less successful plan. Here’s the full deal, I’ll show you what happened next.

North Dealer
NS Vul
North
AJ763
KQ64
5
KQ3
West
K95
9872
AT4
T94
East
Q84
JT3
J7632
J7
South
T2
A5
KQ98
A8652

On the lead declarer had two quick losers so he had to play 3 rounds of to pitch his losing . Then when he turned his attention to I won the Ace and topped off the defence with a 4th . When my partner ruffed with the Jack in front of declarer my trump holding got stellar promotion. Victory dance!

On any other lead declarer can come home: win the lead in South, set up a trick, then pitch a on the third , and finally ruff out the using dummies trump honors as entries.

This and some magic by our teammates was enough to pull the match with a 2 imp margin. That “Zero Tolerance”-penalty must have tasted so bitter.

Toronto Preparations – Black Metal Brunch

Hi all

After a hellish flight via DC, a missed connection and a sleepless sweaty night I have arrived in Toronto. Perfect preparations for decent bridge. So no stories today, but an announcement that Drew, Bill, Michael and I will participate in the 0-5000 Spingold (starting tomorrow). Michael and I still have to have a system discussion, and with Drew not in optima forma that’s enough of a challenge.

Here’s me and my friend Mary having a Black Metal Brunch in a bar called Graffiti. Very colorful the menu had an entry for “… and shit you can eat”. Cheers!

Vigor

Hi all

I was playing with Sanne at the Pro-Am night at QT. I know we’re are partnership in all kinds of ways, but bridge honestly isn’t one of them. So I didn’t feel awkward or bad about it. That we royally won the event with almost a 4% margin to number two, well… let’s not get into puny details.

In the last round we had a lively auction:

West
North
East
South
 
 
2
2
2
pass1
3
32
pass
43
a.p.
 

1. A penalty double would have been justified
2. I was completely & utterly oblivious to what was happening
3. Let’s try to recover some of the points we missed out on

North
KJT86
K2
J743
74
South
QT9853
K62
AKJ3

When West started with the Ace the rusty old lock that was my contract gave away the tiniest crunch. I ruffed and played a towards the King, West rising with the Ace. Desperately looking for a ruff he switched to a via the Queen for my Ace. Yes, I feel that lock slowly opening up to me.

Another to dummy and East follows suit with the Jack. On the King I see East pitching a and I follow his lead. Finally the lock yields to my vigor. So East is 1-2-6-4… the rest is easy as pie: to my hand, draw the outstanding trump and endplay East with the fourth . With just left he has to surrender a trick to my King. + 420

East Dealer
– Vul
North
KJT86
K2
J743
74
West
AQ95432
A74
T92
East
7
J6
AQT985
Q865
South
QT9853
K62
AKJ3

With another lead a clairvoyant South can manage to score five tricks in and three in . Setting up the same endplay as I did will bring in trick nine. East has to pay attention though, because any other exit than the Queen will give South ten tricks.

Too bad we missed out on a juicy penalty. South can score eight tricks in a contract: three , one and always four (West will bring them on a silver platter). Quite funny if the opponents have an eight card fit.

Strawberry Killing Fields

Hi all

Last Saturday we went on a fruit picking tour through Brentwood. I felt like a 4 year old again ravaging through my grandma’s strawberry garden. About 30 years ago my parents took the same pic, nothing ever really changes.

Here’s a tiny deal from a team’s game in Oakland. It was a remarkable event, not only for us winning it, but in addition to the boatload of unpigmented masterpoints I already have, I now have collected enough pigmented points too to call myself a Life Master. Wow! Spotlights on me!

Ugh.

Back to reality.

I was sitting South and this is what I heard and saw:

West
North
East
South
 
 
1
pass
pass
Double
1
pass
2
a.p.
 
 
 
East
AKQ5
AJ
KJT98
64
South
T632
K8
76543
AT

Geoff led the 2 (odd leads) and while declarer takes stock, I try to piece together both other hands. So Geoff has a five card suit, and probably four as well. And I’m pretty sure that for his double he has at most a singleton , he would overcall instead. That must be the stiff Ace or West would have responded to his partner’s opening. So that leaves declarer with a 1-4-2-6 distribution, and yes, that matches to the auction too.

Declarer asks for dummy’s Jack and I win with the King. A to Geoff’s Ace and another for dummy. Now declarer rattles of three top pitching two himself. A low is requested from dummy…

I thought I had figured it all out when I rose with the Ace of , gave Geoff a ruff and tried to uppercut anything by ruffing the with the Ten. But it didn’t. Declarer simply overruffed with the Jack and lost another trick to Geoff’s high trump, 2 making.

In gun terms this is what happened, I drew the gun from holster and aimed ( switch to Geoff), pulled the trigger (rising with trump Ace), and then put my bullet in the chamber (ruffing with the Ten).

In retrospect it’s all so easy. First let Geoff win with one of his top trumps instead of going up myself (loading the bullet), then get the desired ruff with trump Ace (pulling the trigger). Now a through and Geoff’s little trump gets a promotion (bang!). The top trump is then the setting trick (the bad guy is dead now).

East Dealer
– Vul
North
J984
QT642
A
KQ8
West
7
9753
Q2
J97532
East
AKQ5
AJ
KJT98
64
South
T632
K8
76543
AT

It’s a funny little deal, 2 in an eight card fit with trumps splitting doesn’t make, but it takes pretty wicked defence to hold 2 (only seven trumps together with a nasty split) to eight tricks.