Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You just can't make this stuff up!

Some players don't like to preempt in one suit when they have a good holding in a major suit on the side. Others feel that preempting with a void on the side is somehow evil, especially when opening with a weak two. Is it OK to preempt with a side void? How about two voids? Two voids and a five-card major? Just ask rising star Zach Grossack. Here he is playing with Kim against the robots on BBO a couple of months ago. Did someone say "unfavorable vulnerability?"

Even Victor Mollo and his Hideous Hog never quite pulled off anything like this. Note that, despite the defense holding all four aces, all four kings and a jack, they can do no better than three tricks! And, no, this was not part of a "Goulash" tournament.  Kim and Zach won a whopping 15.5 imps on this hand.

If you follow the play, you will see that the West robot makes an error when he doesn't capture the diamond queen with his king.  This leads to an ignominious -990 and, adding insult to injury, the robots helplessly (or haplessly?) each contribute an ace to the last trick, won with Zach's last trump. You just can't make this stuff up!

When I first saw this hand, I thought that the hand actually belonged to North/South even though they held only 11 hcp! But then I realized that E/W can legitimately make four spades (with careful play). They can also make 3NT (or four clubs) but not if North has already bid four hearts!

Zach was the only human North to play this board.  Fifteen robot North's failed to appreciate the offensive potential of a three diamond opening.


  1. I wonder if when Zach were younger and bolder (that is, when he was only 13 or 14), if he would have opened the North hand with 1D, planning to reverse into hearts. Now that he has aged and mellowed ...

    1. Hah! It's possible. Although the last time I think that I played a serious session with Zach was around then and he wasn't that wild. In fact, it's my belief that rumors of Zach's crazy bidding have been greatly exaggerated. He does use the Hideous Hog system of counting points though. He adds at least two to his count if he's likely to end up declarer (e.g. opening 1NT or 2NT). If his opponents are especially inept (that's most of us), he adds another point or two!