Sunday, 11 October 2015

One hand from the Bermuda Bowl

The Bermuda Bowl is the bridge equivalent of a World Championship, and just took place in India. Put yourself in one defender's shoes for this deal.The opponents have just reached 3NT, after bidding some minors then checking for stops. You and your partner have been quiet throughout. What do you lead from this?

♠ T843 ♥ KQJ43 ♦ J8 ♣Q5

I expect you chose the obvious ♥K. When the hand was played live in the quarterfinal match between England and USA1 one of the commentators suggested instead leading a deceptive ♥J. But at the table the English defender, Andrew Robson, went one better and lead the ♥4! This was the full deal:

The American declarer sitting East assumed from the lead that Hearts were splitting 4-3, and was worried that if he ducked the Heart he'd get a Spade switch. So he immediately won the ♥A, reasoning this way he would lose only three Hearts and a Club. However, once the defence got in Robson surprised everyone at the table by cashing four Heart tricks to set the contract. On the other table game made easily ("Difficult to see how 3NT can go down" said the commentator).

I like this deal as it shows the subtelty the expert game. Any intermediate player would have lead the ♥K, but an expert leads like a beginner and plays fourth highest.

Glasgow League Division Two - Buchanan vs Team Rowan

Team Rowan scored a fantastic 15-1 win in the first match of the season. Could they maintain that form with Anna and I in the team?

Things started badly. Our opponents seemed to be bidding and playing very slowly, and in response we got a bit tired and the bidding suffered. As an example of how it all seemed to go wrong after Anna had passed I opened a light 1♥ and she responded 2♣, natural and showing 10+. I had ♣AKx so passed. On another day Anna would have five or six Clubs and 2♣ would have been a good contract, but today it was a 4-3 fit and went two off.

At one point the opponents had a mix-up and ended in a 6-1 Spade fit. If we'd have been sharper we could have beaten it, but instead let declarer make it. Anna made a couple of good 3NTs, but then we went off doubled in a bad sacrifice, twice. This was the low point:

No one vul
N deal
♠ 9 x x
♥ x x
♦ J x x
♣ A Q J T x
♠ K J x x x
♥ K x
♦ Q x
♣ x x x x
♠ T x
♥ Q J x
♦ A K x x x
♣ K x x
♠ A Q x
♥ A T 9 x x x
♦ x x x
♣ x

East opened 1♦. With Anna having already passed I felt like I was right for a weak 2♥ overcall, but decided to spice things up a bit and bid 3♥. No particular reason, but I was a bit bored perhaps. The pre-empt worked as West was forced to make a stretch to bid 3♠. However, Anna wasn't in on this and thought I had a genuine 3♥ bid with something like ♥KQJxxxx and so raised me to 4♥. East doubled and I had to take the medicine.

The defence took three Diamond tricks then East switched to the ♠T. I covered and West won the ♠Q. He couldn't continue Spades so lead a Club. I thought about finessing but thankfully didn't, and was able to hold my losses to 4♥x-4, which still cost 800. On a part score hand this is expensive, especially on aggregate scoring.

After all the other tables finished we were still playing. At one point someone actually turned out the lights, then realised we were still playing. It was just our table left and the two team captains waiting for a result. The very final board epitomised the disaster. After I had opened 1♥ partner was silent and the opponents reached 3NT. I had:

♠x ♥ JTxxx ♦ AQxx ♣Qxx

Obviously I lead a Heart, and then found partner's only points were five Diamonds to the King. In the end we lost the match 12-4. As the team captain said, it could have been worse!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Saturday Night at the Club

Saturday night at the Buchanan is a new event at a convenient time, so last night Anna and I made our return to the club. It's been six months since we've played any Matchpoints.

While the standard did not quite rival the Bermuda Bowl (happening right now in Chennai) there were a few highlights. Three times I doubled aggressively when Anna and I had a misfit, and every time we took them down two or more. Once we made 12 tricks after an opponent revoked, and afterwards I could hear someone at another table trying to figure out how on Earth someone had made 4♥+2.

The hand I remember best though is of course one where I didn't get things right.


Although we play a weak NT, Anna opened her 15 point hand 1NT. Neither of us noticed this until the next day. My plan was to transfer to Spades then bid Hearts, which for us shows at least 5-4 and is game forcing. But after I transferred into Spades South weighed in with 3♦. Anna passed and when it came back to me I wasn't sure if 3♥ was still forcing (I think it is) so bid a potentially ambiguous 4♥. That might have looked like a splinter, but Anna correctly took it as natural and was delighted to pass with her excellent Heart suit.

South passed this too (I would have bid 5♣), and lead the ♦A. "You've hit the jackpot there" said a defender as dummy came down.

I could see loads of Heart winners, loads of Spade winners and just one Club to lose. An easy 12 tricks. I ruffed the Diamond lead and started drawing trumps. After two rounds of trumps though I suddenly realised I had a problem. As trumps had split 3-1 to draw them all was about to take my last trump in hand, after which I would be wide open in Diamonds after losing the Club Ace. It's good I realised this, but a shame I realised it so late. I therefore started on Clubs before drawing the last trump, thinking this was fairly safe. The defence was accurate though and South took her ♣A and gave her partner a ruff. My easy 12 tricks had turned into 4♥+1.

Of course what I should have done right at the start is ruffed a second Diamond in the South hand then drawn trumps, which gets me to 12 tricks with 5 Hearts, 5 Spades and 2 Diamonds. I can even play for all 13 tricks by ruffing all three Diamonds. Every other table made +2, except for those that got an immediate Club lead.

The next time I was sure I had 12 tricks I played much more carefully:


I have the 20 point East hand with a void. I decided to only open 1♠, then when Anna showed support I splintered with 4♥. Anna passed this quickly, as she has already stretched to bid 2♠. I got a nice Diamond lead, and so was able to get two tricks out of the Diamond suit and this really was an easy 12 tricks. Every other table was also in 4♠, making 11 or 12 tricks depending on the lead.

Overall we finished in 1st place, and David & Heather were 2nd. Bring on the next league match on Tuesday!