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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

0011 - Aunt Mary's 7♥

Goulash #001 – In the bridge world deals like this are often called Goulash (bridge) where the suits are more unevenly distributed among the players, creating wild deals.  Polly Thomason of Okatie Creek DBC gave me this deal from her neighbor's Aunt Mary (Indianapolis)... the challenge is making 7 .  (East's hand was not disclosed, it is not relevant to the play.)

Without looking at the answer below, can you make 7?

Monday, September 8, 2014

0010 - 2-Way Trump Promotion

Trump Promotion #003 - This is post 3/3 on the topic of trump promotion by position in passing - the card play technique called coup en passantThis thread will flow better if you start with post 0008 - Avoiding a Trump Promotion.   This deal was played September 6, 2014 / Unit 252 NAP Championship.  Here is the complete deal and auction - East is in a 2  contract and South leads the ♣5 (partner's bid suit).

So here $ is the trump promotion position after 3-tricks have been played with cards removed ... it presents a real challenge for declarer.

After 3-rounds of clubs (T1-T3) North considers the lead options for trick 4 (T4) ... the lead of a spade finesses his own  K (not good), the lead of a heart finesses partner and helps declarer discover the lie of the trump suit (not good), and the lead of a diamond is only good if partner has both the  KQ and the bidding does not indicate partner has this much ... so what about the  9?

From the time we learn to take a finesse, we are told it is bad to give declarer a ruff and a sluff, but DD double dummy (and what should be apparent to North sitting at the table) is that the opponents have plenty of tricks, all finesses are working!  So on this deal a ruff and a sluff doesn't help the opponents. The lead of the  9, however, may allow partner (playing behind declarer) to get a trump promotion which looks like the only real opportunity to gain another trick.

And, in fact, the  9 puts declarer on a guess: 1) does East trump in hand hoping that trumps are 3-3 and that an over trump does not promote the  9? or 2) does East guard against a 4-2 split in hearts by trumping in the dummy and hoping the  Kx doubleton are in South's hand?  DD (with hearts 3-3) the right decision is to trump in hand with either the  Q108, but sitting in East's position at the table, what decision would you make?

The point of this deal is that North's lead of the  9 is a great lead - it is the only lead that possibly creates another trick via a trump promotion.

Friday, September 5, 2014

0009 - Seeing the Trump Promotion

Trump Promotion #002 - This is post 2/3 on the topic of trump promotion by position in passing - the card play technique called coup en passant.  This deal was played September 4, 2014 / HHI Bridge Club.  Here is the complete deal and auction, East is in a 4♠ contract and South leads the 4.

So here $ is the trump promotion position after 6-rounds have been played with cards removed (see Trick Table).

After the opening lead of the  4, East plays 3-rounds of diamonds pitching a club on the third trick (T3) to avoid the possibility of 2-club losers. On T4 - East finesses the  J which South covers with the  Q, and wins the  A in West/dummy.  On T5 - a club is lead to the  A and on T6 - East exits a club (saving trumps in dummy) so as to trump the last club.  Everything looks good, right?

But North is on lead holding the last diamonds ... if North leads the  J, East is now in passing position (en passant) subject to a trump promotion for South.  If East trumps low relying on the  6 in dummy to win the trick, South can win the  7, and subsequently the  K, 2-spade tricks.  If East trumps high with either of the  1098, South pitches the  9 and South holding  K73 and playing behind East, still wins 2-spade tricks.

Trump promotion in passing typically happens when the defender (short in trumps) leads a non-trump card through the declarer and the defender (long in trumps) is playing in position behind the declarer and both are void in the suit being lead.

To obtain a printable PDF file of this post click here " 20140904 0009

Thursday, September 4, 2014

0008 - Avoiding a Trump Promotion

Trump Promotion #001 – Trump promotion is the defensive strategy of creating a trump trick (or tricks) by forcing the opponent's premature use of a trump card.  One of the card play techniques (coup) of achieving a trump promotion is to make a trump trick by position in passing playing behind the opponent who needs to trump (coup en passant).  see Glossary 

This deal was played by Eileen Griffin September 3, 2014 / HHI Bridge Club.  The contract is very reasonable North/South have combined 24 hcp and 26 shortage points.   Of the 12 times this deal was played it was played in 4  - 10 times and in 3 NT - 2 times (go figure).

The opening lead by West is the  A and East gives an encouraging signal with the  6. West follows with the  3 to East's  Q.  After 2-tricks East can now see all of the remaining 5-clubs –  J9 in dummy and  K42 in hand.  So to kill dummy's clubs (and avoid a ruffing finesse situation) East leads the  4 (hiding the  2) knowing that South and West are both void in clubs.  South is now in passing position (en passant).  If South relies on winning the  J in dummy or ruffs low West is in a position to win a trump trick cheaply.  If South, on the other hand, trumps high West might get a trump promotion, later winning a trick with a trump card that otherwise would not win a trick.

But, one of the ways of spoiling a trump promotion is to put a loser on a loser ... so when East leads the  4, Eileen smartly pitches the  2.  Now the play or coup is broken ... West must trump to protect against dummy winning a cheap trick with a trump card that would have, in fact, produced a natural trump trick.  East/West are entitled to win 2-spade tricks, either naturally or ruffing.  By pitching a losing diamond on the losing club ruff Eileen collapses her losers. East/West eventually win 2-spades and 2-clubs, but never get to win a diamond trick for down one (-1).  North/South scores 8.5 matchpoints (77%) on this deal - this deal went down two (-2) six times . Well done Eileen.

To obtain a printable PDF file of this post click here " 20140903 0008

Monday, September 1, 2014

0007 – Lead Up to Honors

Playing Intermediates #005 – What makes the play on this deal special is not some bedazzling play of the hand technique, but that the play (other than by a 10 year old) focuses on fundamental play of the hand techniques. Often, very often, taking care of the fundamentals is all that is required.

This deal was played by Emma Knight with Fred Ferguson August 23, 2014 / HHI BC.  There is nothing special about the auction 2  is a reasonable contract - 2  was played 6/9 times the deal was played.

The first fundamental technique of play of the hand has to be lead up to honors. The opening lead variant of lead up to honors is that it is almost always right to let the opening lead come all the way around to declarer's hand (i.e., there should be a special reason for winning or attempting to win the opening lead in dummy). We call this opening lead variant (actually an opening lead finesse) in HHJB (Hilton Head Junior Bridge) the Don Buchanan rule. So Emma (after careful consideration) dutifully ducks the opening lead in dummy with the  3 and wins the opening lead in hand with the  Q. Now, the play that really sets the theme of this deal (and amazed me, as I watched the play of this hand unfold), Emma leads the  2 to the  9 retaining the  A so as not to lose control of the hand. WOW, what an experienced play ... Bill Wisdom would be proud.

West wins the  J and leads a heart and again, Emma ducks from declarer's hand taking the finesse letting the play go around to dummy's  K (the opening lead variant only in reverse). East wins the  A and returns the  10 through dummy's  K. When Emma wins the  A in hand (keeping an entry in each hand in clubs) everything is almost over ... Emma now leads a small spade to the  A (again, leading up to honors) dropping the  K. And with the opponents now having the singular boss-trump, Emma ignores trumps, knowing the opponents can now win their last remaining trump anytime they want, and trumps a diamond, and plays out her winners.

One subtle feature in the play of this hand, but very IMPORTANT, every trick played was on target ... there was no "busy work" of cashing club winners, etc. straight forward get down to business bridge. Great job Emma!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

0006 – Pass with the Best Hand

West opens 1 , so holding North's hand, what is the right call? It is really hard to Pass with the best hand at the table, but what else can North do? Remember the purpose of bidding is "to describe your hand" ...

This deal was played by Don Buchanan with Fred Ferguson Aug 20, 2014 / HHI Bridge Club.

After the game, I was asked about the bidding on this deal. So I laid out North's hand and asked, after West open's 1 , what can North bid that is not a misrepresentation at best? So the choices seem to be 1 NT, Double, 1 , 2 , Pass ... any others?

1 NT – While North has a perfect opening 1 NT hand, as an overcall North does not have a diamond stopper. This is a really bad choice of options, the contract could end up in 3 NT not making (as in this deal) when game otherwise in a suit contract is assured (as in this deal).

Double – While some partnerships might play minimum offshape takeout doubles just to show opening values (a.k.a. the Savannah Double), in modern bridge, this is just wrong. What would North do after partner has East's hand and bids 2  or worst jumps to 4 ? So what about doubling with the plan on rebidding ... first, North only has 15 hcp and second, what would North rebid?

1S or 2C – North doesn't have a 5-card suit in either spades or clubs. Sure North would like partner to lead one of these suits if on opening lead, but partner will expect a different hand WWYT (what were you thinking).

Pass – Passing, even with the best hand at the table, is the best option. The bidding should come back around ... and if partner does not have enough values to balance in this deal, then Pass was the right option all along.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

0005 - Cuebidding Stayman

This is a lesson on cuebidding ... so what's a cuebid? While the most common form of a cuebid is a bid of an opponent's suit, technically, a cuebid is any bid of a suit not intend to play as trump.

This deal was played by Adele Newman and Norman Bloch August 2, 2014 Okatie DBC.

South (Adele) opens 1 NT (15-17 hcp) and West makes a natural 2  overcall. In everybody's little book on bidding agreements, 3  by North (Norm) should be a cuebid for the Stayman convention. The use of the cuebid after interference was part of the original Stayman convention and still retains its usefulness. Some partnerships, who play Stolen Bids, might play 3  as Stayman, but then how would responder make an invitational bid in clubs (3  is needed for natural bidding sequences, but 3  is not). South's rebid of 3 NT is perfect – denies a 4-card major and (on-the-way to wherever this auction is going) shows a stopper in diamonds. So far so good ...

So what is 4 ? Well first ABNUF (any bid not understood is forcing), actually 4  is a cuebid asking South to "further define their hand". So South considers: partner is not interested in diamonds (the opponents bid diamonds), partner is not interested in clubs (partner could have bid clubs) and partner does not seem to be interested in notrump (or might have passed 3 NT), so 4  seems to be the best descriptive bid of South's hand – 3 NT already denied 4-spades, so now 4  only shows 3-spades. 

With better values North can advance the bidding beyond 4  (with possibly another cuebid), but two cuebids has gotten the partnership to game, Pass.