Thursday, January 15, 2009

All around the world

What if you were offered to be coached at bridge by a world champion? Wouldn't you expect it to cost a fortune? Not so fast. The Junior program on Bridge Base Online that I wrote about here does just that and it's free!

Today, I watched the coaching session directed by Lynn Deas (and facilitated by vdoubleu) on BBO. Players 26 years old and younger participated. There were 10 lesson hands and Junior players took turns bidding and playing them. After each one, play paused and the board was discussed. Juniors asked questions. World-champion Deas and NABC-champion vdoubleu (BBO screen name) gave advice, corrected wrong or inferior plays (but nicely, of course) and the Juniors soaked it up like a sponge.

I clicked on the participants' profiles. There were bridge players and spectators from six of the seven continents -- sorry, no one from Antartica was logged in, ha. Quick, where is the country of Vanuatu? Answer: It's an island in the South Pacific Ocean and there was a Junior bridge player from there who participated! It's a cliche, but true, that the Internet has made our planet smaller and more interconnected.

Here's a deal (hands rotated) that was played and discussed:

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

South opened 1 and North bid 2. South rebid 2NT and North raised to 3NT.

West led the 9. Declarer won the ace and led the 2 to the 3, 10 and king. West could infer that South had the K (no finesse at trick one) so he shifted to the 3 that went to the 6, jack and king. South led a spade to the queen and finessed again in the diamond suit. The defense slipped a trick and declarer made 11 tricks.

Assuming you lead the 9 from 10-9 holdings, do you agree with West's opening lead? In the discussion that followed, it was suggested that a heart would be better because your suit is stronger. They don't call it "fourth from your longest and strongest" for nothing. Deas didn't just quote rules, however. Young players want to know why. She explained that after a heart lead, East needed less values in the suit for that to be successful. Also, Deas explained that if you do decide to lead a spade, you should lead low.

Did declarer make the right play at trick two by tackling diamonds instead of clubs? The answer, as Deas explained, is yes. South has stronger spot cards (the 10 and 9).

What are the odds of making three tricks if you play on diamonds? The discussion revealed that it is about 75%, a handy number to remember. You need either the king or jack onside to set up three diamonds tricks. You can take four, of course, if both the king and jack are finessable.

If you're a Junior (26 years old or younger), you can participate, too. See my post just below (called Why guess?) for the program and hours.

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