Thursday, January 2, 2014

A rising star?

I haven't been saying a lot in this blog about CJ our twelve-year old bridge player who started playing  in July of last year, other than a quick reference in Teaching: the best way to learn. But now that he has hit the headlines, so to speak, it's time for some stories.

I refer to the article Meet CJ Kiepert Rising Bridge Star! which is currently featured front and center on the EMBA web site. Kim and CJ had almost 60% in the "pro-am" game a few weeks ago.

CJ still has a lot to learn in bridge (don't we all?) but he has excellent instincts. He's a bit impulsive and he tends to be a somewhat exuberant bidder but that's how you get lucky. Everyone agrees that bridge is a bidder's game. Never having been a fan of going strictly by "the rules" myself, I'm always happy to see creative bidding. It doesn't always work out, of course, but if it works out more often than not in the long run, then you end up a winner.

Here are a couple of examples of CJ's imaginative style from last week's Sunday pairs game: ♠AKT82 AK5 – ♣AKQ53. CJ was in fourth seat, not-vulnerable vs. vulnerable, playing against one of the best pairs in the room. After two passes, his RHO opened 3. Bear in mind that we don't have tools to bid this kind of hand scientifically. Even the idea of doubling then bidding a suit isn't something CJ really knows much about – and could hardly be right for this hand anyway. Maybe 4 would be the right start but who knows? Trusting his instincts that I would have something useful in diamonds, he bid what he thought he could make: 3NT. Perhaps a double by the next player would have prompted some other action – I don't know. In any case, I showed up with the ace and he took eleven tricks. Sadly it was not the triumph that his boldness might have deserved – eleven of sixteen pairs bid slams (one was a failing grand) but even the 4♠ bidders outscored us as there is an inevitable spade loser before all the spades can be cashed.

His other outside-the-box thinking that day was with this hand: ♠AK5 AKJ953 ♣J63. Nobody vulnerable, his LHO dealt and opened 1♠. I bid 4 and RHO bid 4♠. Without any hesitation, CJ bid 5! As he expected, the opponents pushed on to 5♠ with their 10-card fit and of course now CJ sprang the trap. We ended up with 500 for a top (other than a 550 for making 5X).

Here he is in action at a friendly, though expert, New Year's day game with three tables, scoring by IMPs. ♠A9 AT3 QT953 ♣KT3, all vulnerable. CJ dealt and opened 1. This was overcalled 1♠ and I bid 2 (forcing). What would you do? Almost as if he had read Matthew Thomson's book (see next blog entry) on How to be a lucky player, CJ raised to game. He appreciated the extra value of two aces and the relatively prime king. Even the diamond suit with its good intermediates might furnish tricks with a little help from my hand. As Matthew might say, we did get lucky, making with five heart tricks (including a ruff), four spades (!) and a club. This was worth 10 imps (averaging the two comparisons).

CJ will be at the table again at this weekend's Regional, opposite partners of his age (or close). I'm looking forward to seeing how they do.

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