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8s and 10s DO Count

Posted on April 14, 2016 at 9:59 AM Comments comments (6139)
I played at the Fort Lauderdale Bridge Club yesterday, just as I do every Tuesday when I am in town.  My Tuesday partner is Missy. I call her Missy because even though she is my age, she is so tiny (size 0) that she looks like a 12-year-old.  
We were having a pretty good game, judging by the early results on our Bridgemate device, when Ideal and Lovely came to the table.  I picked up my cards - they were awful:
♠98543     ♥T82     ♦J86     ♣65

If Missy opened 1NT I would transfer to spades and then pass.  Otherwise I’m bidding green cards all the way.  Missy was dealer and opened 1♦. My RHO overcalled 1NT.  Boy, was I glad.  I just hoped Missy wouldn’t make a re-opening double. LHO bid 2♣ (Stayman) and the opponents quickly reached 3NT so I was on lead.

As a rule, when Opponent is prepared to handle my partner’s suit I don’t always lead it.  This is especially true if I have a better lead, one which will get tricks for our side.  On this deal, I have nothing.  I don’t expect to win a trick.  Even though I have 5 spades, I don’t have entries and the ♠9 is a very long-shot winner.  I decided to lead my partner’s suit (the suit Declarer is known to have) and not finesse her out of an important card in a different suit.

Having decided to lead a diamond, which one should I choose?  I never lead a singleton against notrump, not even in my partner’s suit, so the lead of the Jack will tell her that I have at least two.  Declarer will also assume that I have two diamonds so a little sneakiness is always a good thing.
Here was the whole hand (rotated for convenience):
               Me                                           Missy                                                                          ♠98543            3NT by S           ♠KT2                                                                            ♥T82                                        ♥AJ6
               ♦J86                Lead = ♦J          ♦T532                                                                          ♣65                                         ♣AT9                                                             
Here’s the auction:
            Missy               Lovely             Me                   Ideal
            1♦                   1NT                 P                      2♣
            P                      2♦                   P                    3NT
Declarer won ♦A in dummy and continued to play diamonds.  She led the ♦9 from dummy, covered by my partner’s 10 and won in her hand with the Queen. She now cashed ♠A and tried to reach dummy with a heart.  Missy won the ♥A and continued diamonds.  Lovely “knew” I had only two diamonds as I started with the Jack, so she played the ♦7, beaten by my little 8.  Wow!  Whoever would have thought my hand would win a trick?  But we weren’t done yet. I had to find another card to lead.  I chose the ♠9, top of nothing as I did not want to encourage my partner.  Lovely called for dummy’s Queen which was taken by Missy’s King.  She returned a spade which Lovely won in hand, but she still has to lose to the ♣Ace and she still hasn’t set up a heart trick.  In fact, she led towards her hand and put in the ♥9 losing to my 10.  Two tricks won by my almost yarborough!
Poor Lovely!  But what went wrong?  Let’s count her tricks.  On the diamond lead, she has 1♠ + 3♦. These are sure tricks. She needs to establish 5 more.  Where can she get them?  If she knocks out ♣A then she has 2 more tricks, maybe 3 if the suit splits 3-2 (it does).  She can also set up a second spade trick and a heart trick.  After winning the first trick in dummy I would play a spade to the Ace and then play K♣, Q♣ and, if Missy holds up till the third round (you’ll see her 10 drop) you will have established an entry to dummy via the ♣Jack. Once in dummy, you can set up a spade trick. They can continue diamonds when they win a trick but you still have time to establish your heart trick.
It’s certainly a tricky hand.  Missy and I took 5 tricks.  She won ♠K, ♥A and ♣A.  I won ♦8 and ♥T.  Deep Finesse says that Declarer can take 10 tricks in Notrump, hearts or diamonds. They can even make 5♣. 

I’m just glad I didn’t have to play it.
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Bidding the Grand

Posted on April 4, 2016 at 8:03 AM Comments comments (48)
I was fortunate to have LLOYD ARVEDON as my partner at the SouthEasterns Regional in Coral Springs, Florida last week.  On Tuesday morning, in the A/X Pairs I picked up this rather lovely hand:

         QJT6     65     AKQJ532     ---

I planned to open 1D, continue with 1S if partner responded with 1H and then jump in diamonds to reveal the playing strength of my hand. However, it didn't quite go that way as LHO overcalled 2C.  Not surprising when I am void in the suit.

Lloyd made a negative double so I bid 2S, quite pleased that we had found a major suit fit.  The opponents were silent from that point on.  Now Lloyd bid 3C.  I wasn't sure what was going on here.  Perhaps he had a pretty good hand with hearts, not spades.  I rebid my diamonds showing length in the suit.  Lloyd then jumped to 4NT.  Now, I like to play Minor Suit Key Card when our fit is in a minor, so what exactly was his hand? Well, in the absence of an agreed fit I decided to answer based on my beautiful diamond suit.  After all, Lloyd is the expert, not I. He should be able to figure things out. I had 2 keycards plus the diamond Queen so I answered his 4NT question with 5S.  Lloyd hesitated for a millisecond and boldly bid 7NT.  He won the first trick and announced that he had fifteen tricks.

Here is the whole hand - and the bidding:

                         8754                                    932
                         Q32                                     T87
                         4                                          987
                         QT843                                 J765        

                     Rosie               LHO                 Lloyd               RHO

                      1D                   2C                     X                   P
                      2S                   P                       3C                 P
                      3D                   P                       4NT               P
                      5S                   P                       7NT

The lead was the club 5 (fourth best)  Lloyd said he could win 4 spade tricks, 2 hearts, 7 diamonds and 2 clubs for a total of 15 tricks  :)

Why on earth did LHO bid 2C.  She said she recognized Lloyd and knew the only way to get a good result was to try and cause havoc.  

I've seen a double and cue bid sequence by an overcaller, but this was the first time I had seen it by responder.  Lloyd knew that he had to make bids which were absolutely forcing.

Thank goodness I rose to the challenge.                        
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Getting up to date

Posted on May 2, 2015 at 1:53 PM Comments comments (36)
I'm truly ashamed for not writing regular posts.  But it's a New Year and time for a New Year's resolution.  Yes I know it's already May, but better late than never with the resolutions.   Right?

So what happened to this year so far?  The Orlando Regional for a start. I had great fun playing with BETTY TRILIEGI.  Then it was home to Ft Lauderdale and my 2/1 class, a continuation of my Absolute Beginner class which began last October.

I then spent a month teaching at sea and now I am back, teaching Bid Like the Big Boys, a series of lessons designed to handle problems with which our basic toolkit can't cope.

Our snowbirds have flown back to the north and those of us left behind are beginning to make our summer plans.  Last year I attended Regionals in  both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and hope to do the same again this year.  Then there is always the lure of foreign travel - perhaps England again.

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Greed is a terrible thing

Posted on September 22, 2014 at 7:42 AM Comments comments (137)
Red Bird and I were back at the table yesterday for more bridge.  You would have thought we were tired of the game after back-to-back weeks at tournaments in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but after three travel days we were anxiouss to get our bridge fix.  There were thirteen tables at the afternoon game and our first opponents were Voluble and Tolerant.
I picked up a rather nice hand:  KJ  T53  AKQ9876   9.  I was considering whether my hand was worth a 1D opener followed by a jump to 3D as my rebid.  However, Red Bird was Dealer and she opened 1H.  Tolerant Passed and I had an easy bid of 2D (Game Force - I will show the heart fit at my next turn).  Voluble (so-called because he is very vocal in the instant post-mortem on every deal) chose to enter the auction with Double (promising both black suits).  Nothing daunted, Red Bird jumped to 3H (she was in love with her hearts).  Tolerant Passed again and now I was in a quandary.  If Red Bird had 18 points (which her bid suggested) we may have a slam - my hand had only 5 losers and her jump suggested she had no more than 6 losers.  However, I had not yet had the opportunity to show a fit so I should not mess about.
I chose to bid 4NT (1430 for hearts) and to my dismay heard Red Bird show 2 key cards plus the trump Queen.  This was not enough for Slam but we were already beyond the safe contract of 5H.  I gritted my teeth and bid 6H as if I had not a care in the world.
Voluble couldn't wait to get the red Double card on the table.  Tolerant led the Diamond Jack, won in Dummy with Ace.  Red Bird then led a low heart off the Dummy, the JH appearing from Voluble, creating a much-needed entry to Dummy via the Heart 10.  She cleared the trumps, ending in Dummy with that gorgeous ten and ran all her diamonds, pitching all those dreadful losers.  6HX, making 7 for +1860.  I never saw that score before.
Then the post-mortem began. " Lead a black suit", screamed Voluble.  "Why?" asked Tolerant.  You doubled for me to lead Dummy's first bid suit.  It's even got a special name.  What is it, Rosie?"
"It's a Lightner Double," I told him.
"Yes," said Tolerant.  "A Lightner Double.  All you have to do, Volly, is not Double.  I will lead a black suit and she goes down.  I knew you had the black suits, and I was going to lead my spade 10, but your double told me to forget that and lead Rosie's first bid suit."
We were Vulnerable so down 1 would be -100, -200 if we were doubled.  Voluble had risked everything for the difference between those two scores - insignificant.  In fact, his poor double netted him -1860 instead of plus 100.  Greed is a terrible thing.
The full hand:
                                              A532                                          T986
                                         J                                             976
                                         5432                                       J
                                         AJ85                                       K7632
The bidding should have gone:
                    Red Bird           Tolerant           Rosie         Voluble
                    1H                    P                      2D               X
                    2H                    P                      3H               P
                    4H                    P                      P                 P
Result   4H making 5    +650
Tolerant would have lead S10 and all the defence can do is cash its 2 black Aces.
I would not have looked for the doomed slam without Red Bird's jump.  The beauty of the Two Over One system is that we knew we had Game as soon as I bid 2D, so we can take our time.
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Rosie's Rules

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 6:38 PM Comments comments (104)
Rosie's Rules
Red Bird and I were playing in a club game, when two of my friends came to the table.  They were dealt pretty good hands and soon reached a contract of 4S even though Red Bird had overcalled 2H after Miss M opened 1S.  Red Bird was on lead and placed a low diamond on the table, which I ruffed. 
I'm a good partner so I led my partner's suit, high from my doubleton 9 4.  Red Bird won the Heart Q and led another diamond and I scored my second ruff.  Naturally, I played my second heart showing high-low, a doubleton in her suit.  She won the Heart Ace and played a THIRD diamond for my THIRD ruff.  There was only one possible way to reach Red Bird for my heart ruff and I found it.  I led a club, Red Bird won her Ace and gave me a heart ruff.  Even though Dummy was out of hearts, I could over-ruff the dummy.  Down 3!
"How come you led a diamond?" asked Miss M.
"Well, I have to follow Rosie's Rules," replied Red Bird.
"What do you mean?" asked Miss M.
"I'm not allowd to lead my singleton trump;  I'm not allowed to lead the Ace of clubs, because I don't have the King.  Same with hearts - I don't have the King to go with my Ace and I can't lead away from either of those Aces.  So the only thing left was a diamond."
Miss M left the table muttering something about how she would be having nightmares about those diamonds.
Here is the whole hand:  Miss M had the South hand (rotated for convenience).
North          East          South          West
Mr A          Rosie         Miss M        Red Bird
P               P                1S               2H
2S             P                 4S              all pass
      J                                                          9754
     AQT763                                                 94
     852                                                       ------
     A82                                                      KJ96543
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What was that again?

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (23)
Last Friday evening I played with Icelandic pro, Bjorkgvin Kristinsson, at a local bridge club.  He is almost six foot six and very slender.  He practically folded himself in half to get down to the little bridge chairs to which we are accustomed.
I had made up a a card and he spent about two minutes absorbing all the conventions I like to use, including our signals (upside down) and discards (odd-even) thus passing the first test with flying colors.
Things were going pretty well, a few tops and lots of averages, no disasters, all signals correctly made and understood by both of us, including Smith Echo, a personal first for me :)
Then I picked up this hand:    xx     AJxxxx     x     Qxxx
My partner opened 1S and RHO overcalled 2C.  Although I had only 7 high card points (HCP) I felt safe enough to make a negative double.  If he bids hearts I am thrilled.  If he rebids spades, I'm OK with that.  If he bids 2D I can now take a preference to 2S.
After my negative double, LHO bid 2D and my partner passed in a heartbeat.  I 'knew' he must have diamonds as he did not take any action.  Now RHO bid 3C and I counted my tricks, One natural trump trick plus a diamond ruff, plus AH plus two tricks from partner.  So,  I decided to make a penalty double
To my amazement, LHO now re-doubled!  What was that again?  Yes, a redouble.  Everyone passed and my heart was in my mouth.
I led my singleton diamond and the dummy was tabled:     xx     KJxxxx     KJxxx     void
Five minutes later they were down 3, and we were +1600.  Did I mention they were vulnerable?
The full auction:
Bjorkgvin     RHO     Me     LHO
1S                 2C      X        2D
P                  3C       X        XX
Poor Leftie.  He thought his XX (redouble) was SOS (please rescue us - do something intelligent, Partner) but they were NOT on the same page.  I think he should have passed my negative double - Pass and lie in wait like a snake in the grass.  Now My partner will probably show his diamonds, and I will take him back to 2S.  We might even make it.
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The Sacrificial Lamb - Not

Posted on March 31, 2013 at 9:38 AM Comments comments (18)
The Sacrificial Lamb
I was so proud of two of my students last evening.  They came to the Club to join in a wonderful Passover Dinner Celebration followed by bridge.  They were the only novice pair in the game, and there were twenty-six pairs, so the going was pretty tough.
This may have been only the second or third time they played in an Open Game, but they were still smiling when they reached my table for the final round.
Naughty Norma opened the bidding 1C and I overcalled 1S on my ten count (I did hold AQxxx in my suit.)  Playful Patti raised Naughty's clubs and MY partner, Red Brid, jumped all the way to 4S.  This gave Naughty pause for thought.  Feeling she was among friends (she was) she pondered as to whether she should quietly give up or whether she should give it her all and take a chance, a gamble, by bidding on.
As her teacher, I quietly explained about taking a sacrifice.  Did she think I could make 4S?  What did Red Bird have to justify her jump to Game?  If I doubled Naughty's bid, might she go down? By how much?  Would that be better or worse than my vulnerable game.
"I'm going to do it," she bravely said.  5C!.  Thank goodness I didn't double, because she made six!!!
Far from being a sacrificial lamb, Naughty turned out to be the lion at the table.  Red Bird and I earned just another zero in what was one of the worst games we ever had.  I remembered one of my philosophic pearls of wisdom - it's better to get ALL your bad boards on the same day.  THAT way, you'll get some good games later.
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Too Fast As Usual

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (16)
I played with Red Bird yesterday and was dealt this wonderful hand on the second board of the day:
                    AK9     AKQ654     9865     void
RHO opened 1C and I overcalled 1H.  Red Bird bid 2C (cue bid) to show her limit raise values and a good fit with my hearts.  I was so excited to get to Game that I just bid it right away, bidding too fast as usual.
I took all the tricks and scored up +710 and Red Bird graciously asked if she could have bid better.
"No," I told her.  "Your bid was perfect.  It's my bid that needed more thought."  On later reflection, I figured out a possible way to get there.  Since I am always going to get to 4H once Red Bird shows me the Limit Raise, I think I should jump to 4C (a splinter, or shortness) and now Red Bird can bid 4D to show first round control of the diamond suit.  That will give me courage and I can now bid 4NT.  I wouldn't normally do that with a void, but I know she has the diamond Ace so I want to know if she has the Ace of Clubs.  She doesn't. so she will have to bid 5C,one or four key cards in our system (1430). 
She promised me 10 points for her cue bid limit raise and all she has shown me so far is the AD.  Where are her other points?  She could have the heart Jack, the spade Q and J, the diamond KQJ and anything in clubs.  But I don't think she has much in clubs, because not only did opener bid clubs, he also doubled her club bue bid for the lead.  So I think all her points are in the pointed suits and will all be helpful.
So I can get to at least 6H.  7H is a little too rich for me.
Bidding 4H and making 7 produced a slightly better than average score so very few pairs reached a slam.  But I should have got there - I had the tools.  Next time, I will be braver.
Here is the whole hand:
                          T83                                           752
                          J7                                              98
                          QJT                                           7432
                          AKJ95                                       Q864
The lead was the club Ace, ruffed in hand.  I pulled trump in two rounds, cashed AK of diamonds, back to hand with the spade Ace, spade King, ruffed a diamond, cashed Q and J of spades, pitching my last diamond, making seven.
This is how our auction could/should have gone:
      RHO     Me      LHO     Red Bird
     1C         1H       P           2C
      X           4C      P           4D
      P           4NT    P           5C
      P           6H      all pass
If only all hands could be this delightful.
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Diamonds are a girl's best friend

Posted on March 6, 2013 at 2:24 PM Comments comments (22)
I'm always saying that 'diamonds are for your finger' but the other day I fell in love.
I was playing with Perfect Pat at the local club when I picked up this hand:
5   32   QT987643    72
I promise you I did not plan to bid.  However, Pat opened the bidding 1 spade and my RHO overcalled 2 hearts.  I thought about jumping to 5 diamonds immediately but when you play with Perfect Pat you don't need to worry.  PP will do the right thing when it gets back to her.  I Passed and now LHO bid 4 hearts.  PP was ready, and out came the Double card.  Was this Penalty or was she trying to make me bid?  I was confident she wanted me to bid so I bid 5 diamonds and that ended the auction.
PP put down a wonderful dummy:  AJxxx   x   AJ52   Axx
LHO led the heart Ace and then switched to a club.  I won the Ace of clubs then called for the Ace diamonds.  PP was impressed when I picked up the King of Diamonds but didn't understand why I did not pull more trump. She didn't realize that there was no need.  We had twelve trumps bewtween us - how rare is that?  I was busy ruffing her spades.  Unfortunately, I needed one more entry to dummy than I had - I should have kept my 3 or 4 diamonds in my hand to reach dummy's diamond 5.  Had I done so, I would have made 6.  Nevertheless, bidding game and making it was still a top for us.
The moral?  Don't bid without points, unless your partner wants to hear from you.  Then you can bid what you love.
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Private yacht redux

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (18)
I flew home yesterday after three splendid weeks teaching bridge in foreign climes.  I have now been invited to give private lessons in Las Vegas,and also in Guernsey. However, I have major commitments to my students here in Fort Lauderdale.  So many will be a little while before I make any decisions.
In the meantime, I have been nominated for ABTA's highest award - Teacher of the Year.  Just being nominated is a great honor, and I thank my students for proposing me.
ABTA is the American Bridge Teachers' Association.  I will be making a presentation at the annual ABTA Conference which takes place just prior to ACBL's Summer Nationals, which this year will be held in Atlanta. 
The Fort Lauderdale Bridge Club, where I conduct most of my lessons, has graciously permitted me to use Constant Contact to send out regular newsletters to my students.  If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please let me know.
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