Friday, 10 April 2015

JJ Final

Yesterday was the final match of the season for Hillhead, we played the final of the Jackie Josephson against Gilmorehill. Unfortunately, they were just too good for us - we lost by about 4000 points over the 32 boards, even taking into account the fact that we started with a 2000 point headstart. I thought we did well to play in what seems to be a clearly better slam on this board, although our auction was not particularly impressive.

After Norman bid 2♦ over my strong 2♣ opening, I pretty much just drove to slam, as I didn't really have any way of finding out if he had the only card I was interested in - the ♠K. 

Norman drew trumps and played a ♣ towards the K. When Jim went in with the ♣A, the hand was over. John Murdoch seemed to think that this was wrongly played, but I can't actually figure out why. You don't have two entries to hand to pitch the black suit losers on the ♥QJ, and you still have the chance of the ♠J dropping when you play it this way. Maybe you should run a lot of ♦s first? But this line has at least an 80% chance of success. There was also a discussion afterwards of how good 6NT is (on a ♥ lead). Basically, you need to be able to play this ♠ suit for no losers. Danny Kane and Jim came to the conclusion that this was 62% after the match (this was Jim's instinct, and Danny did some calculations).  

Using Richard Pavlicek's bridge calculator (I don't have a Windows machine at the moment, so can't run SuitPlay): you can pick up: void in either hand (1.5%); stiff J in either hand (2.5%); Jx in either hand (16.2%); Jxx in either hand (35.6%) and a small singleton onside (6.1%). This is a total of 61.9%, so they did pretty well... 

In addition, no defender can keep all of ♠Jxxx ♥K ♣A if you come down to a 5 card ending, so if you're willing to back yourself, and if the player with the long spades has one of the high cards in the other two suits then you have some chances of an endplay. 

We also won a Gold Cup Plate match on Wednesday, so will get a rematch against John Dick's team, who knocked us out of the Gold Cup proper in our very first match. No bridge this weekend, but next weekend is the Melville one day congress, I'm playing with Martin Stephens in the pairs and Adam Dickinson, with Martin and his dad, in the teams. 

Things are getting closer to being sorted for our National League team, a couple of people have some decisions to make, and it's possible there will end up being just two of us looking for team-mates, but I've spoken to a few people lately who don't have teams sorted yet, and I'm confident I'll be playing again, if not quite sure who with yet.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Livingston Away

We played away at Livingston yesterday, in what I think was probably our last league match of the season, but there might be one more. We found out rather more than any of us wanted to about a knee operation that someone in the adjoining bowling club had recently been through (the room wasn't very soundproofed), and cruised to a comfortable victory. I played with Yvonne Wiseman, and we had the run of the cards, finishing +3400 at the end of the night, and only conceding two game contracts, I think. 

The most exciting hand was the one above. Yvonne made it very easy for me, by opening the West cards 2♣. There's pretty much no way that I'm stopping in any contract other than 7NT now, so I should probably just bid it straight away, but I thought I'd waste some time by bidding 2♦ on the way. I got the expected confirmation that that Yvonne's bid was based on a solid ♠ suit, and decided to stop messing around. LHO led a club, and I might a slightly lazy claim, just putting my hand on the table, and pointing out that I had 14 top tricks (had the opponents forced me to state a line of play, I would probably have been pitching the ♠A on the ♦A, just because I could...). 

Perhaps surprisingly, we were the only pair to reach this optimal contract. Our other EW had a Blackwood mix-up and stopped in 6 of something, the opponents also had one pair who bid 6 of something, and one pair who somehow managed to play in 7♥ (maybe the guy with the solid ♠ suit was worried his partner would correct to 8♥ if he bid 7♠?). 
I'm not sure how things would go if Yvonne made the (I think) more normal 1♠ opening on her huge hand. over 2♦, she will still rebid 3♠, and once again I know she has solid spades and something outside, but without being about to find out about the 4th ♥, or the 8th ♠ I think it might be difficult for me to count 13 tricks. I'm certainly never going to picture her actual hand!

Yvonne thought for a while before bidding 2♣, and I spent the time wondering if I had a slam try if she opened 2♠. I think I do, we keep our second-in-hand weak 2's pretty solid. Something like AJTxxx xx Kxx xx opposite makes 6♦ nearly cold, and that's pretty much a dead minimum - I remember reading somewhere that if a suitable minimum from partner would make the contract a laydown then you should just go ahead and bid it. I was also wondering whether the fact she'd taken a while to bid gave me any ethical problem (I think probably not, she could have been considering any of passing, bidding 1♠ or 3♠, so it's not clear which way the information points - although I guess she wouldn't think for a while then pass, as this almost always gives partner a problem). Actually, given the style we were playing, I think it's very unlikely Yvonne would ever think for a while before bidding 2♠. Thinking for a while before bidding 1♠ on this hand would have made things more difficult for me.

We also agreed in the car on the way back that we'll be entering a team in the National League. There's at least 4 of us, and possibly up to 6, we just need to figure out who actually wants to play, who's eligible, and who wants to play with whom. It'll be good to be back in it, and hopefully with a good chance of qualifying for the first division. As I also submitted a Scottish Cup entry last week, (I'm playing with Adam and we're teaming up with Danny and Anna), I feel like I'm well organised for next year. 

Last night of the Winter Pairs tonight. Norman and I are not quite out of contention, currently sitting in a fairly comfortable 3rd place, but we'll need a score something in excess of 67% to catch the to pairs who are out in the lead. It's close at the top between Liz and Grace, who started off the competition with a a massive 68.83, and Christine and Ian who have consistently scored in excess of 62% almost every session.