Saturday, 29 September 2012

Buchanan - matchpoint mishap

Normally it's total points at The Buchanan, but tonight with 5.5 tables it's Matchpoint. Therefore, the change in mentality is:

  • Favour playing in NT and Majors
  • Be aggressive in part score bidding, but don't stretch for games or slam
  • In defence limit overtricks

What do you make of me and Anna's auction below, favourable vulnerability?

♠ 7 6 5 4
♥ -
♦ A J 5 3
♣ K J T 5 4
♠ A K
♥ A 9 8 7 6 3
♦ K 7 6
♣ 9 2

I opened the South hand 1♥, no problem there. Anna replied 1♠, She's not strong enough to bid 2♣ then introduce Spades later (that would be a game forcing responder's reverse), and replying 1NT denies four Spades.

After I rebid 2♥ Anna should probably pass, but with a Heart void chanced her arm with 2NT. This ought to show an invitational semi-balanced hand, something like 10-11 points with 1-2 bad Hearts, which she doesn't have.

The danger of her bidding 2NT is that I don't pass, and with my 14 point hand I planned to accept the invite, and was just trying to work out which of 3NT or 4♥ was better. At the time I wasn't sure I had definitely shown six Hearts (but actually the only hand I can have without six hearts is e.g. ♠Axx ♥AKQxx ♦xx ♣xx), so decided to confirm a sixth Heart with a creative bid, thereby giving Anna a choice of games.

I bid 3♦, showing a hand with six Hearts and four Diamonds. A bit cheeky with only three diamonds, but what's the danger? The danger was, Anna passed!

We were lucky to have landed in a semi-decent contract. The full deal was:

EW vul
S deal
♠ 7 6 5 4
♥ -
♦ A J 5 3
♣ K J T 5 4
♠ J T 9 8
♥ K J 2
♦ Q 8 2
♣ 8 6 3
♠ Q 3 2
♥ Q T 5 4
♦ T 9 4
♣ A Q 5
♠ A K
♥ A 9 8 7 6 3
♦ K 7 6
♣ 9 2

I got a Club lead, lost the first two tricks to the ♣AQ offside then won the third Club in dummy. Then over to the ♠AK and ♥A (throwing a Spade). That's four tricks so far. Wasn't sure whether to draw trumps with established Clubs or play a cross ruff, so to kill time tried a trump finesse. This won, and could now see my way home. Spade ruff, Heart ruff, and I have taken seven tricks and still have the ♦AK left.

I thought this was a pretty good result, but actually the analysis shows that ten tricks are available in Diamonds (if I don't draw any trumps can get one more ruff in), and even eleven in Clubs if South plays it (so can't get a trump lead). These contracts are a bit unlikely though, the real comparison is with 2♥. This ought to make I think, you lose only two Clubs and three Hearts. But results from other tables were mostly 2♥-1, so we got a good board for 3♦=.

In fact even 2NT makes if I decide to pass Anna's 2NT rebid. To hold it to eight tricks the defence needs to lead Hearts, to get their three Heart tricks and two Clubs. If they never touch Hearts declarer has plenty of tricks, and on e.g. a Spade lead the defence get only two Spades and two Clubs, so in fact 3NT probably makes.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

BBO Tourney

It's Tuesday evening. Anna's working, so we'll watch Great British Bake Off tomorrow and tonight for half an hour's free fun I've entered a BBO Tourney. Six hands, maximum 30 seconds per bid play, slow players get replaced by Robots. No chat allowed. Strictly business.

The Robots play BBO standard (which is now 2/1), see here.

On the first hand my partner timed out and a robot took over. The 'bot was bidding a lot, and since they're usually timid I should probably have guessed he had a great hand and doubled the final contract. No one vulnerable. You sit East with:

♠ Kxx ♥ Jxx ♦ xx ♣ JTxxx

x-2♣ 2♥

Partner opens 1♦, which North overcalls with 1♥. I pass this as I've only five points. Now partner doubles, so I make a cheap reply in clubs. Now South comes in with 2♥, partner doubles again so I trot out 3♣. North bids 3♥ over this. I think about doubling, but pass and hope that partner doubles. He passes though and it goes two off for +100.

This was only worth 33% of the Matchpoints (as we can make more than 100 making our contract). If I double and we instead get +300 it's worth about 80%. I should double for two reasons. Firstly, I've got a maximum (I've shown 0-5 and I've got 5). Secondly, both opponents have stretched, South was happy to pass out 1♥, North only bid again to protect.

The rest of the boards were above average and I finished on 61%, for tenth place out of 28. Originally 40 people joined, but it seems a few left, shows these rapid tournaments are not taken very seriously.

The hand below was my best result, 88%. I didn't do anything clever, but my partner did.

♠ A K
♥ A Q J
♦ Q J x x
♣ K Q x x
♠ x x
♥ K T x x x x
♦ x x x x
♣ x

I had the South cards. I dealt and passed, rather than opening a mad weak two. Partner opened 2NT, which by Bridge Base standard is still 20-22. I wanted to play 4♥, but rather than bidding it directly, which would mean the wrong hand plays it and might even be taken as a Texas Transfer, I just transferred at the three level with 3♦, with the intention of then raising partner's 3♥ to game. But partner ignored the transfer and just bid 3NT. I thought this meant he only had a singleton heart, and had opened an off-shape 2NT anyway (as sometimes happens). This sort of 3NT never works though. But in fact he'd bid 3NT with a good heart fit, knowing he had all the other suits stopped.

East helpfully led the ♦AK then later took the ♣A, so we had ten tricks for 3NT+1. On any defence we can get nine tricks though so 3NT is solid. As West has a doubleton Diamond he can get a Diamond ruff, so there are four defensive tricks in 4♥, and indeed at most other tables the result was 4♥-1.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Buchanan in Glasgow

Anna's not officially a member of Buchanan bridge club yet, despite attending Norman's class for two years running and playing League Matches with Tony. She's a bit bitter about this and takes it out on me by saying I'm not allowed to come to the club with her. But tonight we're both going. Of course I can't actually play in a pair with Anna, she's training with Tony for the next match, but I can enter the standby pool. I ended up playing with Horst, a middle aged German who turns out to be quite good (League 1 Player).

Me and Horst agreed to play standard Benji, weak NT, checkback, Michaels, 1430 and not much else. We also chivalrously agreed to sit East-West (which means we have to move tables, which the less mobile members of the club don't like doing), the same direction as Anna and Tony. This means we won't get to play against them directly which is a shame, but at least we can compare scores at the end.

A bit of excitement on the first table, against Norman.

-- -

Norman opens and Horst overcalls 2♣, which is followed by a takeout double which Norman passes out. Norman had ♠x ♥A ♦KJTxxx ♣KJT93 and wanted to defend. Unfortunately, his partner had nothing and Holst was able to skilfully endplay Norman to make his 2♣. On Anna's table the same North-South hands bid the misfit up to 5♦, which went off one.

Now a deal where me and Anna, both sitting West on different tables, took different views:

NS vul
S deal
♠ Q J x x x x
♥ Q x
♦ x x
♣ x x x
♠ x x
♥ A J x x
♦ K J
♣ A Q x x x
♠ A
♥ x x
♦ Q x x x x
♣ K J x x x
♠ K T x x
♥ K T x x x
♦ A T x x
♣ -
1NT1♥ 3NT 4♥

On my table South opened the bidding with a distributional 1♥. For me sitting West this was an easy 1NT overcall. Then North made the cheeky decision to raise hearts. Horst sitting East wasn't messing around and bid a direct 3NT, knowing I had 15-17 and a good heart stop. Then, after a considerable pause, South bid a speculative 4♥. Maybe he hadn't noticed the vulnerability, but I did and gleefully doubled.

I led a low Heart. In the end declarer won two high Hearts, two Club ruffs in hand, the ♦A and two spades. West I had to pto not ruff in until I knew declarer was leading his last spade, to prevent dummy's Spades being established, which required some slow (but accurate) counting. 4♥x-3 gave us +800.

How would our 3NT have done? We have seven top tricks, and can establish two more in Diamonds. But if the defence leads spades (unlikely on the auction) or switch to Spades (also I think unlikely) we go down. Otherwise you can get to nine tricks easily by knocking out the ♦A.

On Anna's table South also opened 1♥. But Anna sitting West she eschewed 1NT and went for a 2♣ overcall, raised to 4♣ by Tony and topped up to game. 5♣ is a much better game than 3NT, and made nicely.

Now here's a zinger of a hand that tested me and Horst's fragile agreements.

EW vul
E deal
♠ 7 2
♥ J 9 4 3
♦ A J 6 3
♣ T 4 2
♠ K J T 9 5 3
♥ -
♦ Q 9 4
♣ A Q 8 3
♠ A Q
♥ A K Q 6 5 2
♦ 8 2
♣ J 6 5
♠ 8 6 4
♥ T 8 7
♦ K T 7 5
♣ K 9 7
1♠-3♥ -
4♣-4♥ -
4♠-- -

East opened 1♥ and sitting West I was immediately uncomfortable with the heart void. I replied 1♠ and predictably Horst rebid 3♥. I thought about raising him to 4♥ just to end the auction, or maybe bidding 3♠ (and hoping he wouldn't pass), or chancing my arm with a unilateral 4♠. I also considered 3NT, but thought my diamonds were too weak. In the end I kept things open with 4♣. Horst thought this was a cuebid agreeing hearts (and maybe it should be), but bid only 4♥, then was nice enough to pass when I bid 4♠.

I was pleased when dummy came down. His spade support is certainly better than my heart support. I got a trump lead, so could throw away all my diamond losers on dummy's hearts and made 4♠+2.

On Anna's table the auction started the same, but over 3♥ she went for a direct 3NT bid to end the auction. The defence found the diamond lead but they split 4-4, so 3NT made too (but scored worse).

During the evening there were no disasters from my table, and the only memorable mistakes I made were not doubling the opponents once or twice. Once they got to 3NT and I had ♥AKQxxx in defence. The 3NT bidder had began with a takeout double of my 1♥ opener, so was probably short in hearts, but I was too meek to double.

At the end of the night it was announced that the top East-West pair were Anna-Tony. But wait! After a recount they were demoted to second, and actually me and Horst won.

Famous win.