Thursday, 26 June 2014

Getting to grand

Played aggregate at the Buchanan Bridge Club yesterday. Norman and I won by a good 1000 or so points, probably helped by being the only pair to successfully get to 6♥ on the board below. However, I was slightly disappointed we didn't manage to bid the grand... 

Our auction went like this:

I think maybe if I start with 4♦, a cue in ♦, implicitly agreeing ♥s, then Norman can bid 4♠ next, which must imply a club control. Note that 3♠ in our methods is definitely a stopper ask for no trumps, although I think it must retrospectively become a cue-bid after I bid 4♦ - in which case Norman should probably still bid 4♠ over 4♦, as I must have shown a pretty serious slam try. However, I'm still not sure if we're getting to grand - I can count 3 tricks in ♦s, 5 in ♥s and 2 aces, so there need to be three more from somewhere. It's very likely that Norman can ruff at least one ♠ and set up at least one ♦, but I'm not sure I can find out enough to actually be able to count to 13. 

At Ian Aitchison and John Donaldson's table, the auction was somewhat more unusual, however. I'm not actually able to enter it on the bridgebase handviewer. It started off sensibly enough:

However, Ian's choice as West in this situation was a double... 

Apparently this is an "inadmissible bid", and basically the only penalty is that Ian has to find an admissible bid instead - with the caveat that his partner is barred from knowing that he has a take-out double of 3♠, which I guess means he doesn't know for sure about the spade shortage, or that Ian has any extras. Ian chose to bid 4♥, which I think probably isn't right, especially after his attempted take-out double, as slam doesn't look out of the question, and partner is pretty much barred from bidding on unless he has an absolute monster - I'd have tried 4♠, even if it does commit us to the 5 level. Added advantage is that it must show a hand that's something like take-out of ♠, meaning that partner no longer has any unauthorised information (I'm not sure if you're allowed to take that into account when making your bid?)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

An impossible throw-in

The Sunday was a teams event, and Ed Jones came down to join us. I played with Ian Angus, and Martin Stephens with Ed. This is actually a pretty strong team, and we managed to make the main final despite being a good 20 IMPs down after the first 10 boards of the 26 board qualifier. In the final, I played possibly the worst bridge I've played for about 4 years. Not really sure why, I think I was probably mostly just tired.

Anyway, I'm not going to write about any of the hands I played in that session, so here's one where Jun got an interesting result. He lost two of the first three tricks in 3NT, and then made his 11th trick on a throw-in... 

I'm not sure if that was the actual auction, but I do know that Jun, with the long ♦ hand, ended up as declarer in 3NT. The lead was the ♣5, and Jun went up with the ♣A to take a ♦ finesse (he now thinks, and I think I agree with him, that this was a mistake. Basically, the entry to dummy can be used for something more useful than taking a ♦ finesse, so you should save it for later). Anyway, this lost, and North returned the ♣4 - as Jun puts it "kindly giving him a picture of the entire club suit". Jun ducked this, and put in the ♥Q on the ♥ return. He now cashed a top diamond and South showed out. Jun continued with another top ♦ on which South showed out again, and exited with the ♦5 (preserving the beer card), as North also showed out. This was the actual ending, with South having failed to follow twice in ♦s:

When South now wins this ♦ trick, he has to give declarer access to dummy, and an 11th trick (and, actually, a 12th trick, but that's overkill, as he's already lost two). With the 1 trick transfer, that brought Jun's total up to 11. Note that if South hadn't revoked, Jun was stuck in hand and could only make 10 tricks, as he'd eventually have to play a ♥ away from the AT. 

So now the important question... does this hand qualify for a beer? 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Harrogate (part 1)

I wrote most of this post on the train back from last weekend's shenanigans at the Yorkshire Contract Bridge Association congress in Harrogate. I went down to Harrogate on Thursday night with Sally Stephens and Jun Pinder. Ian Angus brought Martin and Phil up to join us, and the others in the house were Phil Morrison, who works in Leeds, so came over on Saturday afternoon, and Ed Jones, who joined us on Saturday night after playing a Gold Cup match in Darlington. We all stayed in a big house in the centre of Harrogate, which is an excellent way to enjoy a bridge congress (we did the same at Peebles in December), and a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel.

I played the Friday afternoon pairs with Jun, and we managed to finish above average, which I think is my only above average finish of the weekend... here's one hand where I was given an easy enough route to 11 tricks on the actual lead. On a different lead the play would have been interesting - not sure if I would, or should, have gotten it right.

West led a ♣, and now it's easy to make 11 tricks. You'e only ever going to lose tricks to a ♦ and the A♥. What's interesting about the hand is what happens if West leads a ♠. As the cards lie, you can now make 11 tricks as long as you duck the first ♠. East returns a ♣ (or a ♦, although you have to win that in hand), and now if West takes the A♥ when you lead towards the KQ (either time) he rectifies the count for a simple squeeze in ♠s and ♦s against his partner. If he doesn't (and you read the cards right), you can safely duck a ♦ into the East hand. I think you can usually get this right, as you can get a pretty good count on the East hand before you have to make the decision.

Against players who must have 6 cards for their weak 2s, this doesn't seem like the right line, as there's every chance you can avoid losing a spade trick if West has both A♥ and the third ♦, on which layouts these squeeze lines don't work. However, as the East hand was later described as super-maximum for a weak 2 in this pair's style, I think ducking the ♠ probably is right, as winning could be disastrous when West has a second ♠.

In the next instalment of the Harrogate chronicles, an interesting throw-in from Jun...