Friday, August 15, 2008

Just when you think you've seen it all

One of the beautiful things about bridge is that each time you play, you see something new. If you go play a session of bridge and don't see anything to blog about, you're not looking hard enough. I'm just sayin'.

At the club last night, this was an exciting deal (hands rotated). It wasn't played at my table, but a friend reported it to me:

K 7 5 4
Q 9 7
J 10 7 4 2
--- Q J 9 8 2
6 5 4 A 10 8 3
9 5 3 8
K J 9 8 7 6 4 10 8 2
A 10 6 3
K J 2
A K Q 6
A 5

West North East South
Pass 2 3NT
Pass 4(1) Pass 4
All Pass

(1) Announced as a transfer to 4.

The bidding was a complete FUBAR. 2 isn't my idea of a weak-two bid. South's 3NT call shows tricks -- with a big, balanced hand, you are supposed to double and then bid notrump. What is North doing introducing his diamonds? After 4 was Announced as a transfer, North had unauthorized information and decided to pass.

Many North-South pairs played 4. Some went set, unable to cope with the 5-0 split. A couple of pairs made it in spite of the bad splits. I'll tell you in a minute what my partner and I did.

Against 4, West led a fourth-best club and the queen held the first trick. Declarer led to his K and back to the queen. East won his A. He could see he could give his partner a spade ruff; if West had a spade, she would have led it after his weak-two bid. According to Deep Finesse, this won't defeat the contract, as it happens. East also considered a club lead, but it looked as if declarer would simply ruff it in dummy (East didn't know that West had seven of them). Finally he decided to exit with a heart. Declarer won the return and began running diamonds. When East finally ruffed in, South had the rest of the tricks -- making 4 in a 3-3 fit! I almost wrote this up as a Rueful Rabbit deal -- maybe I should have.

I was North (the deal is rotated). At our table, the bidding was Pass Pass to my partner who opened 2NT. I have found that if you have a combined 28-30 high-card points, it often pays to just raise to 3NT, and so I did.
1. You may be off the same two tricks, even if you have a 4-4 major-suit fit.
2. After a 2NT 3NT auction, the opponents strain to lead a major, which can be good for you.
3. Sometimes you have a 4-4 major-suit fit and it splits 4-1 or even (as here) 5-0 and the path to nine tricks is easier to navigate.

Against 3NT, West led the 8 -- her fourth best club. The singleton Q won. Declarer led a diamond to her ace, and led the 2 to the queen and ace. East now shifted to the Q and partner won in dummy and had 12 tricks: five diamonds, two hearts, two clubs and (with a spade finesse) three spade tricks. Plus 690 was good for a 6 on a 7 top. If East hadn't shifted to a spade, partner can only make plus 660, but that would have been nearly as good -- a score of 5.5. Of course it would have been a different story if East had held the K!

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