Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Orlando bridge gods smile at last

A welcome break from the intensity (and elimination) of the (open) Blue Ribbons came in the A/X Swiss.  Our first lucky break was meeting up with Saul and Ed buying a pairs entry.  We decided to team up for the Swiss.

There were many good teams among the 40 entrants, many of which had like us been kicked out of the Blues.  We were using the 30 victory point scale which emphasizes winning above all else.  You get 15 for a tie but only 12 for a 1 imp loss.  This is Bobby Wolff's scale and I think it really is better than the 20 point scale.  We won the first match handily but got the flip side of the coin when we somewhat surprisingly lost the second match.  Two more wins put us in 6th place for the dinner break which helped make the meal pleasant and relaxing.  Incidentally, Kathy and her partner were with us and they were lying 2nd in the B/C/D Swiss.

We met a team of Polish internationals after dinner and lost fairly badly.  Then we went up against Billy Miller's team.  The first six boards were uneventful but I had a feeling that we were losing the match.  We were but only by one (but as mentioned that would have gained us only 12 VPs).  I picked up the following beautiful hand in fourth seat, vulnerable against not: ♠AKQJ763 7AJ972 ♣ –.  This was going to generate some action, I thought :)  Kim somewhat surprisingly opened 1NT (15-17) and this looked like a fairly easy hand in our methods (e.g. 1NT 2 2♠ 5♣ ...) where 5♣ would be exclusion keycard Blackwood.  Needless to say, the opponents were not going to make it easy at those colors.  It went 3 by Miller and I had to decide what to do.  We play that 4 or 4are transfers providing that they are jumps or cuebids.  In any case, 4 would be forcing so that was my call (Kim alerting appropriately).  LHO put in 5 and Kim, bless her, accepted the transfer with 5♠.  Now it was up to me.  I didn't know what else was in her hand but the one thing I needed her to have was the A obviously.  I therefore bid 6.  Now she bid 6NT.  This worried me a bit (what if she has only KQ or Kx of hearts?).  But I wasn't sure 6NT would yield even twelve tricks opposite my hand so I bid 7♠.  There was always the possibility, admittedly slight, that Miller wouldn't lead the A even if he had it, thinking my sequence showed a void.  Anyway, Miller led a trump and Kim scored up 7♠ and we won 13 imps, giving us 25 VPs instead of the 12 we would otherwise get.  Kim's hand was ♠T92 AQK6 ♣AQT754.

We won the last two matches with small but significant scores and ended up in 8th overall, 2nd in X.  Kathy's team ended 4th in the other event.  So, it was a good day.  The Orlando bridge gods smiled on us at last :)


  1. Congratulations to you and your team.

    Most of us would rarely win if we did not have a little luck. And I think you had some really good fortune to make 7S. For example, would the auction have been any different if one of Kim's small clubs had been a small diamond? (Btw, is everyone OK with Kim's opening bid choice of 1NT? I am.)

    The subject hand is very tough .. tougher, I would suggest, than your post implies.

    You need to find out if your partner has three cards, the HA, the DKQ (although, as it turns out, a doubleton DK with enough trumps might be an adequate substitute for the DQ). Exclusion, as is often the case, isn't enough to help you. If your diamonds were something like KQJxx rather than AJxxx, then exclusion would be more productive. But exclusion is not going to tell you about third round control in diamonds ... or maybe even a second round control.

    I don't think there is a magic solution to the problem, but I think I would be inclined to bid diamonds naturally over the 3H interference, in hopes that pard's enthusiasm or lack thereof for diamonds will help me ascertain how high to push this hand.

    Lets assume that you bid 4D and then the next hand still advances to 5H. With 6 HCP in hearts and only a doubleton diamond, I suspect that partner will double 5H. But, as you have not yet shown your best suit, you will probably not accept 5HX as a final contract (without knowing the whole opposing distribution, I am not sure what happens to 5HX, perhaps +1100?). Instead, lets assume that you take out 5HX to 5S.

    NOW, partner will start to like her hand. Only the two rounded queens seem like wasted points. She might guess you are something like AKQxx of spades and AQJxxx of diamonds. She has the aces to take care of whatever are your other two cards. At this point, I can envisage Kim's hand jumping to 7D (??), which you can convert to 7S.

    Not at all confident that there is a comfortable road to 7S on this hand. Seems a little lucky to me to reach the contract, but, as I said at the beginning of this (long) post, most of us need not just to play well to win but also to receive some luck.

    Were the opponents at the other table in 6S? Were the opponents gracious upon losing?

  2. Thanks for your comments, Jeff. You are indeed right that it was really more complex than I suggested. There were in fact all kinds of legitimate hands Kim might have had that would not produce 13 tricks. Maybe I should have taken the money at 5H which would have given us either 1100, 1400 or 1700 depending on the location of the rounded Qs which I never discovered (but I suspect 1100 was the most likely). The other team was in 6S so only 1700 would have won us IMPs. I wasn't the team captain so didn't get to see their reaction to the loss. But to be honest, they seemed to be a little out of sorts throughout the 7 board match (this was the last board).
    Finally, while I have no idea how to scientifically get to the right spot, I did know that we were losing the match (though by less than I thought). That's the time to take chances because of the non-linearity of the VP scale.