Friday, April 3, 2009

An average round

Playing in the North American Pairs at the Houston NABC, you sit down to play and find out your first-round opponents are two of ACBL's best: Ralph Katz and Nik Demirev.

Board #25 is the first deal and I was South:

A K 10 5
10 6
Q 9 5
K 7 6 4
J 8 7 4
A 7 3 2 Q 9 8 4
A K 10 8 6 4 2
Q 9 3 2 A 10 8
Q 9 8 3 2
K J 5
J 7 3
J 5
West North East South
1 Pass 1
Pass 2 All Pass

West led the K then the A. You ask and they say that they lead ace from ace-king, so we all know this is a doubleton. On the ace, East plays a low diamond and West shifts to a club. You decide that East couldn't know to ask for a club with the queen, so you call low from dummy and East plays the A. He returns a diamond and West ruffs and exits with a trump.

You finish drawing trumps and have to decide how to play hearts. It's pretty easy, really, because if East had the ace, he would have asked for that return. So, you hope the Q is onside and lead a heart to the jack and ace -- making two and plus 110.

Deep Finesse says you can always make the contract, so you are surprised to score 21 out of 25 matchpoints on the board. After looking at the hand record, you can see why. They can make 4 their way if they guess to make an intra-finesse in the heart suit. Unfortunately for them, neither could enter the bidding.

They turned the tables on us on the next deal, board #26. I've rotated the hands so that Ralph is South:

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

With both sides vulneratble,South opened 1, I overcalled 1, and North made a negative double. My partner passed and South bid 2, ending the bidding. Our wimpy ways cost us on this deal. Deep Finesse says we can make 3 or 4, ouch.

I cashed the K A and shifted to the K. Ralph won and led a club to the jack. Partner took the ace and returned the 10. Declarer ducked, but I overtook and returned the 4. Partner ruffed and led a club for me to ruff. I led a fourth round of spades and Ralph was under the spotlight. He finally ruffed with the A (!) and led another heart to his king and conceded down one for minus 100.

If South had not played as he did, down 200 would have been an awful result. As it was, he scored 21 on a 25 top -- exactly an average round for both sides! Unfortunately, we failed to qualify for the finals on day two and Ralph and Nik finished fourth.

You can see the hand records at the ACBL's web site, if you click here.

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