Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bridge in another galaxy

A little more than a year ago, European scientists found a planet outside our solar system that they claim is "Earth-like" enough that it could have life. (Click here to read the article.)

I believe this planet does have life, and its life-forms have come to earth to play bridge online. Playing as West on OKbridge last night, I held: J 9 7 K 7 J 9 5 3 Q J 4 3.

My right-hand opponent opened 1 and LHO bid 4 and alerted. When I asked, she told me that it was what I would have guessed -- a splinter. RHO rebid 4 and LHO bid 4NT. RHO answered 5 and alerted (but did not explain) and LHO closed it out in 6. Your lead.

Surely the only key card they are missing is my K. Where can we get another trick, I wondered? I decided the club suit was our best shot. My thinking was that maybe partner had the K. If I led a club, it would knock out the ace, and when (if) I got in with a heart, I could try and cash a club or two. The expert play of a low one would be better when partner did not have the king, and they guessed wrong.

So, I led the 4 (our aqreements are that we lead third-best and low vs. suits, although anything goes against a slam). My lead was not a success. Alien life forms bid differently than earthlings. Here are all four hands (rotated):

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

Arrgh! What on earth? No, wrong question. What in the world?

North alerted her own 4 bid and then explained it as a splinter. I'm still not sure what that was all about.

South responded 5 to 4NT showing two key cards and the trump queen. Apparently, she became confused and thought spades were trumps.

At trick one, declarer played low from dummy. Partner thought and finally took her A. Instead of cashing the first two tricks, I'd just made a lead to let them make it.

Declarer's card play was on the same level as her bidding (from outer space). At trick two, Kate shifted to a spade. Declarer took this and advanced the Q. I finally did something right and ducked. South's computer-mind hummed and whirred for a few seconds as she conducted and examined a million simulations. The simulations showed I would cover the queen 78.54% of the time, so she rose with the A! Yes! She now had to go set one.

[Notice declarer's no-win play. After she led the Q, then played the ace, even a singleton king would give me 10 7 4 that would now be a trick.]

I wish I were a philosopher. If I were, I might be able to make some sense of all this. Several mistakes offset several other mistakes, and, in the end, a cosmic balance was reached. The rollercoaster ride along the way was exhilerating and part of what makes life fun. I really don't know that, just sayin'.

For setting 6, we gained 9.62 IMPs. That'll show those crazy aliens. Next time, they'll think twice before they come down here and try to push around carbon-based life forms like me.

Sixty-six pairs played this board. Eight pairs went set in 6. One went set in 5. Two pairs played 3 (I couldn't make this stuff up). Five pairs bid and made slam (twice when they got a diamond lead and three times when they got a low club lead). The rest played game in hearts. You can see all of the results by clicking here.

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