Sunday, April 23, 2017

Applying pressure

As my regular readers will know, I'm a fan of so-called pressure bids, that's to say wide-ranging preempts opposite a passed hand. I'm also a non-fan of making tram-ticket overcalls opposite a passed hand. Still unconvinced? That's good. I don't need you doing it to me at the table!

But here's an illustrative tale from a team game on BBO (sorry, I don't know how to make this show only one hand):

Dealer: S
Vul: Both
North
♠ KQJ32
♥ 3
♦ T985
♣ T42
West



East



South




Bidding:
South West North
  p    1C    ?
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What to do? Surely this is worth in intervention with such an obvious lead-directing situation. But partner is a passed hand so, especially vulnerable, this counts as tram tickets. It's just not good enough for an overcall. What about 2? Well, gee, this could go for 800 or worse? Yes it could. But it almost never does.

Let's see what happened at the other table. My counterpart couldn't resist a 1 bid. East bid 2 and West bid 3NT. South, in the pass-out seat felt sure that, on a spade lead, this was going down. So he doubled. The defense wasn't perfect and my teammates were +950.

Now let's rewind to my turn over 1. With some trepidation, I bid 2. The next two players passed and I started worrying that the next call would be double. But no, West rebid his clubs (3). Note the effect of the pressure bid. The opponents have been talked out of their cold 3NT. The damage wrought by the 2 call has already been done! Despite having the chance to get out for -110 or -130 on a deal where presumably the opponents belong in game, partner now bid 3! I detest that type of action. If partner has preempted, then preempt as high as you're willing to go at your first opportunity. Fortunately, nobody doubled and I managed to drift off three (perfect play would be down two) for -300.

So, even with partner kicking an own goal, we still won 12 IMPs! Even if they double and I play it no better (I might take a bit more care in a doubled contract) we'd still be up by 4 IMPs :)

Here's the whole layout. As you can see, my opponents weren't the best, but the 2 call did give them a serious problem.

Dealer: S
Vul: Both
North
♠ KQJ32
♥ 3
♦ T985
♣ T42
West
♠ AT9
♥ KJ
♦ Q7
♣ AKQ875
East
♠ 75
♥ T7542
♦ AJ62
♣ J6
South
♠ 864
♥ AQ986
♦ K43
♣ 93

Bidding:
South West North East
  p    1C    2S   p
  p    3C    p    p
 3S    p     p    p
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