Thursday, April 29, 2010

Takeout Doubles are (Nearly) Forcing

At our table, I passed for 100% of the matchpoints. The only other table that duplicated the auction to this point passed also. East tried to save in diamonds, but was doubled for 87.5% of the matchpoints.

One other table played in diamonds, undoubled, for 50% of the matchpoints.

North/Souths who declared did not, in general, fare well. 3C-1 by south was a common result.

Normally, partner's double would have forced me to bid. With 7 strong clubs, I was happy to make a rare exception.


Board 10 from Monday's Matchpoints game. Almost everyone is in 4 hearts. A low spade is led to east's queen:

I won with the ace, and the ace of hearts showed that trumps are no worse than 3-1.

At this point, I think, there's a pretty trivial play to try for an overtrick. At the table, most found it, and 4H+2 scored 75% of the matchpoints, while 4H+1 only scored 18.75%.

I drew 2 rounds of trump ending with the king, and cashed the king of spades, discarding a club. One player discarded a diamond, which is wrong. I then played the Ace and King of clubs, and ruffed a club, everyone following. Now I played a diamond to the ace (one player had cashed the ace of diamonds earlier, leaving no entry to dummy). Now, I played the thirteenth club, and discarded a diamond (one player got this far then ruffed a spade).

Granted, clubs being 3-3 is only something like a 36% chance of happening, but there was no harm in trying. Would you have found this at the table? In a 12 board ACBL game, finding this play adds over 4.6% to your final matchpoint score.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sorry, But....

Playing in the Sunday IMPs league, I had this awkward bidding situation:

Maybe you agree with my pass, maybe not. Certainly, playing with a new partner, I felt that any other bid was going to be a lie, and I trusted partner to reopen. Ok, so partner reopened, now what?

It's really easy to foresee losing the first 5 tricks in 3NT. I have some spade length, but even IF partner has 2 spades Notrump isn't going to go well. If not notrump, then what?

Well, hearts might be right, but 3 card support with a 4333 is not great news for partner. In fact, it's not impossible that partner has only 3 hearts himself.

On the other hand, partner probably has passable clubs. He opened clubs instead of diamonds, and is shortish on spades, so clubs is probably a real suit.

I opted for 3 clubs, which got passed out. Partner held:

30 HCPs, and no game to be had. At first, I felt like apologizing to partner, but as it turned out stopping short of game was going to be worth IMPs, 6 as it turned out.

Despite the awkwardness of the situation, this bidding was easy, I think, right or wrong. It was a good reminder, though, that there's more to life than high card points.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Learning, or Lack Thereof

Saturday night, before I went to bed, I checked the BBO Beginner/Intermediate forum, and came across this problem. It took me until the next morning to figure it out.

6 hours later, I played this hand, and completely forgot the lesson I'd learned.

Sad part it, it's the same bloody problem. I was just in too much of a hurry to think it through.


We had our third narrow loss in the Sunday morning teams match. This time, the key hand was my mistake, and it was a rookie one. Really awful play by me, as I saw the risk, miscounted, and talked myself into making the mistake. Sad part is, there's probably no upside to the way I played it anyways (or at least very VERY little).

Still, despite being only 1-3, we're third in an 8 team league, only 9 VPs out of first. Of course, we're only 4 VPs out of 7th. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Science of Selling Yourself Short

If I have one regret over the past 2 years, bridge wise, it's this - a while back, I was in the same tournament as a player who I consider to be at least high expert, possibly world classed. We talked a bit after the tournament, and the expert said "we should play a few hands together sometime". I never followed up on that offer.

It's not that I wasn't thrilled about the prospect of playing with a far better player. It's just that I lacked, and still lack, confidence in general. I'm no expert, but I'm not really a rank beginner anymore. I'm especially pleased with my improvement over the last 12-15 months - I'm not exactly pulling off complex squeezes yet, but my awareness and even my judgement (gasp) have vastly improved over that timeframe. If I continue to improve at this rate, goodness only knows what I'll be capable of by next year.

That said, I still get intimidated by situations and people all the time. I'm a bundle of nerves at the club games, and figure the better club players could clean my clock (probably true, but untested). In situations where a partner or better player compliments me, I tend to shrug it off.

The real problem arises when I reach a difficult spot in the bidding or play of a hand. Rather than trusting my judgment, or my ability to work out a difficult problem at the table, I shy away, and make some snap decision based on fear or uncertainty. The post-mortem often shows that the solution was easier than I'd thought, or that I'd made the same mistake before and should have known better.

I'm not sure what it's going to take for me to start playing and approaching bridge in general with confidence, but I really look forward to that day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beyond High Card Points

Playing 2/1 this week, I had to decide how to respond to 1 spade with:

I took a moment to consider, but decided that I was worth a game forcing 2 hearts raise. I solicited a few opinions on this decision, and have met with nothing but approval.

It does take a bit to break away from the high card point mindset, but I'm getting there.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Not Drawing Trump

Normally Sunday night social games are the opportunity for me to turn my brain off and play some lousy bridge. Last night, perhaps buoyed by a big win in our teams match Sunday morning, I was fairly alert.

The following hand stood out, not because I made a brilliant play (I can't tell, but it might not even matter in the end), but because of what I was looking for....

At trick 2, the automatic thing to do, I guess, would be to lead trump. My losers in trump and hearts are completely inevitable, however, spades look at least interesting. If I'd had AQ instead of AJ, the possibility of an endplay looks far clearer, but I decided to take a shot, anyways. I decided there was very little risk.

So I claimed my 3 diamond tricks, throwing a heart. I then led trump, won on my left. The queen of hearts held, and I smiled. LHO wound up leading spades twice, and my JS ended up being the overtrick.

Granted, the JS probably sets up anyways, so it probably made no difference on this hand. Still, I was pleased that I'd struck on the idea of playing this way. If I'd held the queen of spades instead of the jack, or if I'd lacked sufficient entries to finesse spades twice, this approach might have helped me win an extra trick.