Thursday, February 11, 2016


Well, it seems that I have figured out a way to publish my blog again. It's not that I didn't want to. I have lots of material. It's just that I couldn't show you any actual hands because Google broke the Blogger code.

I tried to join BridgeBlogging (where Jeff Lehman publishes his bridge blog) but apparently they didn't want me.

Recently, I've been re-reading (for about the fourth time) Hugh Kelsey's truly excellent book on matchpoints. When you find yourself in a contract that appears to be a minority choice, you have to carefully consider what might happen at the other tables. This I've resolved to do.

Anyway, here's a hand that came up in the middle of a BBO Robot tournament, which I was winning at the time with 60-something percent.
What would you bid? I reasoned that I only needed one trick (and some sort of diamond fit) from partner to make 3NT. Of course, I only have one heart stopper and if partner's trick is slow then I'll probably go down. But surely that's a better plan than simply bidding 4D?
Now what? I could play a club up to the queen in dummy. If LHO had the ace, he'd might play low and I would have my 9 tricks. Some human defenders might fall for that. Should I consider simply conceding down one? No, I decided. There would be company in my contract and I should make every effort to take nine tricks. I decided on the club play, therefore. Unfortunately, my robot LHO was not brooking any funny business. The result?
I went down 7 tricks for -700 and a big round zero. Was I right in my strategy?

Most of my counterparts would probably take the safe 4D route, in which case they would all be going +130. Could there be any 3H contracts their way? Probably not, but if there were, they would make 140 or 170 depending on whether they had a diamond loser or not. Taking eight tricks, therefore would beat those pairs (if any). If half of the other pairs were in 4D, then conceding defeat would give me at best an average score and more likely average minus, let's say 30% for the sake of argument. If I was to sneak a club through and actually make my contract, I would be improving my score by 70% while risking my "safe" 30%.

However, I should have thought more about that all-important first trick! Having started with QJ9xxx and having decided to lead fourth best and seeing three hearts in dummy and partner, who raised, go in with the king, even the smallest brain would have known that the hearts were now running. He didn't need a lead from partner through the ten. Maybe if LHO had led the Q, seen two hearts in dummy, partner overtake with the K, he might have been worried that I had ATx in which case he would hope his partner had the CK.

In fact, there were nine +130s, a -100 (the one other playing 3NT), a -200 (defending a 3H contract), and, surprisingly, a +120 from 1NT making two. Playing it safe for -100 would have resulted in a 12.5% board. Needless to say, I didn't hold my first place. I dropped to third.