Thursday, December 3, 2009

Daytime bridge

Gotta love those day-time bridge players!  Warning: the following is likely going to sound mean and snobbish.

Here's a hand from a recent day-time game.  Imagine yourself holding this hand: ♠A986543 –  72 ♣J432.  Nobody is vulnerable and RHO deals and passes.  Do you bid 3♠?  If you do (I wouldn't) you might just escape for -200.  Incidentally, why do I think this is not a good preempt?  Because you don't have the ♠Q!  Your Ace is likely to win a trick whatever contract you're in.  Besides that, partner might have ♠K72 65432  A3 ♣AQ5 and you're odds-on to make 4♠ (you might conceivably take all the tricks on a club lead!) but partner is probably going to pass you out.

So, in any case, you decide to pass.  LHO now starts proceedings with a bid of 1♣ (playing standard American more or less).  Your partner overcalls 1, and RHO now bids 2 (natural).  Now, do you bid 3♠?  Of course not!!  There are several reasons why your hand is even less suitable for a preempt now:
  • RHO has significantly limited her hand (she passed initially but now shows 10+ with a good diamond suit) – this means that LHO has a very good idea what the total assets of their partnership are and whether to bid on or nail you.
  • Your partner has shown good values in hearts, the one suit you don't have.  On a bad day (this hand, in fact) you can never even get to dummy to cash partner's two heart tricks)!
Nevertheless, despite your hand going seriously down the toilet since you picked it up, you now venture a 3♠ call.  LHO decides to double and you know that you're in trouble now.  Partner, apparently is catching the spirit of let's make as many mistakes on one hand as possible, and now bids 4.  What this means is hard to fathom but naturally, RHO now doubles this.  What now?  Could it be that diamonds is actually our best spot?  We do have two of them!  No, you didn't come here to while away the hours as dummy!  So you bid 4♠ and, predictably, this is doubled on your left.  You take half of the ten tricks you've contracted for and lose 1100 points.  And for what?  LHO wasn't even going to bid 3NT (with 13 hcp, badly placed heart honors and a 4414 pattern, he was thinking that 2NT might be high enough, although it turns out that 9 tricks can be made with careful play in notrump for a score of 400).  Incidentally, 4X might have saved a trick (-800 instead of -1100) but double-dummy defense will probably still get 1100.

The dramatis personae?  All I will reveal is that I was "LHO" and my hand was: ♠KQT7 QT97  6 ♣AQ96.  I don't think I've ever felt quite so confident about a penalty double of a 3-level bid.  The fact that they went on to the four level was a case of Christmas come early!

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