Mind Games

Hi all

I’m indulging, [read sigh of complete satisfaction here.] But I don’t think I will be rested and recharged when I get back to Berkeley. It has been a wild stew of travel, beer, little sleep (in lots of different beds), and way too much attention. Thanks friends & family, you were all wonderful company!

You’re at the helm of a modest 2 contract.

West
North
East
South
 
 
 
pass
pass
1NT
pass
2
21
pass
pass
22
a.p.
 
 
 

1. Attempt at suicide, because red vs. white
2. Weak with both Majors

North
AJ9
AQ8
AJ42
JT9
South
QT83
T9532
6
762

West leads the 9 (zero or two above), and you see it’s a healthy contract. You win the Ace and ruff a to your hand, East showing up with the Queen. A small trump towards dummy and the King makes his appearance.

You take stock for a second. But that 1-4 trump break doesn’t pose a problem to you. Confident you have analyzed and formulated an endplay in trumps. You ruff another (East discarding a ), and you hook the , losing to the King. East now cashes Ace and Queen and continues a third for West’s King. You win the switch in dummy and this is the position:

North
9
Q8
J
South
QT
T9

Count complete, East is 3-4-2-4. Just string off your and when East ruffs he is endplayed to lead away from the Jack.

Wait…!

West has a small surprise up his sleeve. That trump King was accompanied by a small one all the time, so the third gets guerilla ruffed. And East still has a guarded trump Jack… Down 1.

South Dealer
EW Vul
North
AJ9
AQ8
AJ42
JT9
West
64
K7
KT9853
K53
East
K752
J64
Q7
AQ84
South
QT83
T9532
6
762

I don’t like to meekly lay my head low, so I smoothly inserted the King of trumps. Give the pot a good stir. And fortunately my RHO was of the right caliber to not panic and resolve the apparent trump position.

Punch

Hi all

If you take a drive towards Oakland you’ll see quite a few billboards of doom.

… And the bible guarantees it.

Pffffff
Hi
Hi
Muahahahahaaa
* snort *

Well, I don’t have to clarify my point of view now, I guess. I thought mankind was beyond this already. Anyway, we’ll be sitting in a plane to The Netherlands, the only screening we will be subjected to is by DHS (not so great either). Three weeks of visiting family & friends, indulging in decent bread & cheese, and play some non-ACBL-cured bridge. Good times.

Here’s a fine deal from a STaC game in San Francisco. I’ve met my LHO before, she’s venomous. The frost at the table is very real, her glares at my partner chill my spine. After pass – pass – 2 – double – pass it’s my turn again:

South
K865
QJ72
T932
Q

Lebensohl or no? I decide to take the weak route (2NT) because I hate my King in front of the preempt and a stiff Queen doesn’t give me warm feelings either.

Partner surprises me with a jump to 4. What? Come again?

Suddenly my hand improves by 1.609 km’s and then some. I expect partner to hold a singlesuited monster. And I add four trumps to the Queen – Jack, a singleton, even the King recovered some of it’s grandeur. I’m worth another call: 5. Raised to 6.

West
North
East
South
 
 
pass
pass
2
Double
pass
2NT1
pass
4
pass
5
pass
6
a.p.
 

1. Lebensohl

This was the full deal:

East Dealer
EW Vul
North
A3
AKT94
AKJ
A93
West
QJT742
83
7
J865
East
9
65
Q8654
KT742
South
K865
QJ72
T932
Q

There was no play to it, two ruffs and then a hook for a possible overtrick. I’m glad my partner decided to sell his hand as a singlesuited hand, I probably would have doubled and then bid NT myself.

Juice

Hi all

I’m a bit sore. Sore from carrying sand and tiles to revamp our backyard. But our combined efforts led to drinking Duvel in the sun’s splendor on our new terrace. Life’s good.

Geoff and I had an uncomplicated auction to 3NT.

North
QJT
Q964
J3
AQ63
South
AK85
A7
AQT7
JT2

West leads a small . I don’t want to endanger my contract so I call low from dummy. I win East’s Ten with my Ace, next my Jack gets covered by the King and Ace, and the same happens for the Jack from dummy. Just for sake of symmetry I cross to the Queen, and all four suits have been played in the first four tricks.

I continue cashing out on the black suits ( breaking) and I find myself squeezing West out of his five card suit and the King. All thirteen are making their bow to me… the 7 last…

West Dealer
NS Vul
North
QJT
Q964
J3
AQ63
West
3
KJ83
98642
K75
East
97642
T52
K5
984
South
AK85
A7
AQT7
JT2

So the juice I squeezed from my opponent magically turned into beer. Well, coming from Dombo I know, no, I feel! the 7 is a false prophet. The universe revolves around the 8. The 7 outranked in class, suit and number. There’s not a lot more to it than that.

But woe me, the invertebrate! The promise of beer and I set aside my beliefs (be it temporarily).

Carrot

Hi all

I’m looking to participate in the summer nationals in Toronto. Unfortunately my partners here have other plans/obligations, so here’s me throwing a pitch: Reasonable & imaginative player, often wears colorful pants and has a lot of fun at the table seeks decent partner to wreak some havoc in Toronto. Responses here.

Here’s a deal from me and James again at Quick Tricks.

South
AT8
KT9843
Q875
West
North
East
South
 
 
pass
11
pass
1NT2
Double3
24
pass
4NT
pass
5
pass
6
a.p.
 

1. A tad light
2. Kaplan inversion, 4+ at least invitational
3. Take out
4. Let’s just take the least dangerous path

After my opening and rebid James switched on the nitro. For a second I pictured myself on the launch schedule at Cape Canaveral. Lift off complete!

My LHO leads a low and I see that I’m standing on the edge of a very deep cliff. But the strong gust of wind has a friendly directional push, I’m not plunging to my demise just yet.

North
KQ52
AJ7
AKQ8
62
South
AT8
KT9843
Q875

So we’re off two tricks from the start, but I can pitch three of them on dummy’s , taking care of half my issues. The other half is to locate the whereabouts of that lovely Queen.

I take stock for two minutes and I’ve formulated a small trap I can set for my RHO. I start with pitching three and then on the fourth round of I throw my last , East winning the trick.

East winces for a second and then switches to a .

He fell for it!

Why would he switch to a if the look so much more attractive in their vulnerability? He must have a stiff ! Combine that with his first round pass and then a minors showing take out double. East is 1-2-5-5.

Confidently I play from top and the Queen does make her appearance.

East Dealer
EW Vul
North
KQ52
AJ7
AKQ8
62
West
J9643
65
T752
K4
East
7
Q2
J9643
AJT93
South
AT8
KT9843
Q875

Perhaps I would have taken the right guess anyway, but a succesfully sprung trap offers some extra backing. Check out this story if you’re hungry for more bridge, it is out of this world:http://www.blakjak.demon.co.uk/crypto.htm

Silk

Hi all

I’ve got a knee slapper for you. How do you call a tiny psychic running away from the police?

Answer at the end…

This deal is from a random night at Quick Tricks, I played with James, a British bio-informatics student studying for a semester at UC Berkeley. We had a good night. South (all red) opened a weak NT and got to play there.

North
JT4
753
AJT62
94
South
AK92
A94
943
Q73

West starts with Ace and King of (East showing out the second round!) and South won the Jack with the Queen. So West has four tricks hanging in the air like Damocles’ sword. South attacked the suit but West smoothly inserts the King to dummy’s Ace.

Declarer probed for vibrations with the Jack but when East (James) unperturbed followed small he went up with the Ace. Another to dummy won the trick, effectively shutting off the suit. The Ten of and South had all his antennas turned to James. A silky small one…

Declarer suddenly got the jitters, he remembered my Jack as suit preference. Too much, he just couldn’t let me win my stiff Queen of and went up with the King. Well, I didn’t have the Queen, James did. Down one was the result.

South Dealer
All Vul
North
JT4
753
AJT62
94
West
87
Q2
K5
AKJT865
East
Q653
KJT86
Q87
2
South
AK92
A94
943
Q73

James correctly ducked the one round and his smooth ducks on the probes deserve praise. It’s not that spectacular a deal, but James and I were beating the defensive drum in the same rhythm. No giveaway pauses or disruptions in tempo to give declarer an edge.

The psychic? …. A small medium at large!

Spectrum

Hi all

Seinfeld in the Paramount Theatre was awesome. I enjoyed his observation what guys expect from their woman is the same as what they expect from their underwear: a little bit of freedom and a little bit of support.

Here’s a deal from a recent teams match. I’ve asked around a bit, and most of the reactions so far range from “Daisy picking” to “What’s the problem, yawn” all the way to “That’s why I play Heeman“.

All white and partner opens an 11-14 NT.

South
3
AKQ5
976
JT853

I passed as responder and I see Geoff wrap up eleven tricks! As the cards lie you just had to snap your fingers for a butler to hand over your twelve tricks in on a silver platter:

North Dealer
– Vul
North
A965
9874
K4
AQ6
West
KJ74
J62
AJ2
K74
East
QT82
T3
QT853
92
South
3
AKQ5
976
JT853

Trumps breaking, King and Ace on side, and trump length with length so you don’t run into communication problems. Of course bidding slam is 4th dimensionally outrageous, and only fit for certain characters from books by Victor Mollo.

But still, there’s this nagging feeling whether we should have reached the game. The question ultimately boils down to whether it is imp positive to undertake action. Balancing reasonable 4 contracts against featherlight NT contracts, and if the opponents are about to bid we’re better off bidding 2 now. The answer? I still don’t know.

How valid is the approach actually, that if you can make game opposite a perfect minimum, you need to invite? And doesn’t that bite with Mike Lawrence’s advise to never play partner for the perfect hand?

Tricolore

Hi all

Things are not bad here. We made a short trip to Colorado last weekend. Nothing beats fresh powder! And this time I didn’t even break a bone. This weekend I have to sacrifice a Trentemøller session in SF to Jerry Seinfeld in Oakland. Not the easiest of choices, if I may say so.

Here’s a challenging defensive problem from the GNT Open.

West
North
East
South
 
pass
pass
2
pass
21
pass
2NT2
pass
33
pass
3
pass
3NT
a.p.
 
  1. Waiting
  2. 22-23 hcp, balanced
  3. Puppet Stayman

You sit East and await partner’s lead. The 3 (attitude leads) hits the table and this is what you see:

North
93
KT62
97653
K3
 
East
5
J985
JT82
9842
 

A quick analysis shows that partner holds roughly ten hcp, a five card suit and probably has led from a 3 card suit. Declarer goes into the tank for a full five minutes before calling small in dummy. You add the 8 to the pot and declarer wins with the Ace.

Now declarer plays Ace and Queen, partner winning the latter one with the King. What do you discard?

Before answering that question try to visualize declarer’s hand. If declarer holds three that suit looks far more attractive to set up than those . So declarer holds only two. Well, that paints declarer’s hand almost perfectly: 5-2-2-4.

You can hold on to both round suits now and pitch a . Declarer doesn’t have the entries to set up and cash dummy’s .

In the end declarer will end up one trick short because nothing works out.

West Dealer
NS Vul
North
93
KT62
97653
K3
West
KT862
Q73
Q4
QT5
East
5
J985
JT82
9842
South
AQJ74
A4
AK
AJ76

So where did declarer do wrong?

If he had unblocked Ace & King before touching the , East would have been caught in a genuine three-suited squeeze. But declarer still needs to read the complicated position correctly.

Cherry, part 4

Hi all

We’re at the end of the match, pretty much drained after 60something boards. One of the last deals could have had a nice twist if I had kept my eye on the ball. Not that it would have changed the outcome, though.

South
Q97652
T4
AK
K82
West
North
East
South
pass
21
pass
pass
2
pass
pass
2
pass
pass
3
a.p.

1. Standard weak two

Geoff leads the Jack, and this is what I see.

 
East
AK84
KJ65
JT2
T5
South
Q97652
T4
AK
K82

The Ace is played in dummy and in a pipe dream moment I pitch my 2 … discouraging a switch. Declarer follows up with a to his Queen and Geoff’s Ace. Suddenly the defence is an open book to me. A to me, cashing both King & Ace, a ruff and then the cream on the cake with a third round of promoting my Ten into the setting trick.

Now if only I hadn’t played that 2 in trick one. Geoff returns a trump for dummy [let declarer clean up his own mess] and ten tricks get wrapped up easily with a hook.

West Dealer
– Vul
North
J
A7
Q98643
J964
West
T3
Q9832
75
AQ73
East
AK84
KJ65
JT2
T5
South
Q97652
T4
AK
K82

So can declarer prevent the promotion of the Ten?
It looks a bit counterintuitive, but if declarer starts with a top from dummy [retaining the Queen in his hand], my Ten wouldn’t get a toxic payload.

Cherry, part 3

Hi all

Here are two slam deals that basically decided the match in team Vishnevsky’s favor. Unfortunately I don’t have my teammate’s scientific Viking sequence available that led to an odds on 7. This was the full deal:

East Dealer
EW Vul
North
T7542
J873
875
5
West
KJ963
A2
AK
KQ87
East
A8
T94
QJT6
AJT9
South
Q
KQ65
9432
6432

As you can see the 4-1 trump break and the 5-1 split was too much to overcome. You run into communication problems after two rounds of trumps. West at the other table used some new minor forcing sequence and later brusquely jumped to 6. That was a whopping 29 imp swing.

The levee was about to break. Here’s the other one, a lead problem.

South
J5
T972
K8542
T2
West
North
East
South
 
 
2
pass
2NT1
pass
32
pass
6
a.p.
 
 

1. Asking
2. Good hand & good suit

What red suit? The tiny sequence in made the decision for me at the table. Well, that was another minus 15.

East Dealer
All Vul
North
732
863
AQJT
863
West
KT
AKJ5
63
AKQ95
East
AQ9864
Q4
97
J74
South
J5
T972
K8542
T2

Declarer drew trump and claimed thirteen tricks. At the other table the exact same sequence, but South led a . Post mortem I think I should have found the lead. That would only be wrong if it would set up declarer’s Queen as twelfth trick, with no other way of getting to twelve tricks. My bad.

Cherry, part 2

Hi all

Here’s some thoughtful power play by team Vishnevsky. They landed in a precariously high contract of 5 [3NT is unbeatable] and needed a soft(ish) spot in the defence to land on the head of a pin.

West
North
East
South
 
 
pass
1
2
Double
pass
4
pass
5
a.p.
 
North
AJT5
85
KJ83
Q83
South
K4
AK72
Q
AT7652

West led the Ace and continued for dummy’s King. The Queen of gets covered with the King and West shows out!

Now you have to disarm that J94 and take care of your remaining loser as well.

South analyzed correctly that crossing to the Ace to play a top wouldn’t work, I (East) would just discard a . Then on the trump switch I would rise with the Jack to transform my 9 into superman, because North is left entryless.

So South needed another entry to dummy, and found it by finessing against West’s Queen. Now he was able tackle the delicate trump position, for he had a second entry to dummy when he could overtake his King with dummy’s Ace.

East Dealer
NS Vul
North
AJT5
85
KJ83
Q83
West
Q92
QJ74
AT9754
East
8763
T63
62
KJ94
South
K4
AK92
Q
AT7652

So where’s the defensive soft spot? Geoff could have foiled declarer’s cunning plans by inserting the Queen, instead of following small. Denied the second entry to dummy South is unable to untangle the trump position.