Friday, April 12, 2013

Playing chess or bridge?

Playing on BBO today, I held: A 4 2 Q 6 Q 5 4 2 A Q J 10 and opened 1NT. My robot partner tranferred to 2 and rebid 3NT. I corrected to 4 which ended the auction.

West led the 10 and (see below) this was the dummy:

How do you tackle this hand at matchpoints?

Well, the first hurdle is at trick one. You must play the king from dummy. Do you see why? If you do, East wins, but can't continue the suit -- the 9 in dummy will win the trick if he does.

East shifted to a club, and I finessed. West won and shifted back to diamonds by leading the 7. Those robots are relentless, aren't they? I won and played two more rounds of clubs, discarding dummy's losing diamond. Now what?

There are still traps. According to Deep Finesse, you will still go set if you lead any heart or the A. I played the 4 and ruffed in dummy to lead a low heart to my queen. West won and switched to the 7 taken in dummy with the 10 (a different return wouldn't matter).

It was easy now for me to play the K and ruff dummy's losing heart. I cashed my A and with two tricks left, dummy had the K J sitting over West's Q 5. Making 4 was worth 89.7%.

Playing a high diamond at trick one is a common theme that most players don't see. In chess they call it gaining a tempo, but it applies at bridge, too.

Here's another common situation that's similar: Dummy has Q 10 2 and you have A 4 3. West leads the 9, you put in the 10 and East plays the jack. If you duck, East must shift which may give you time to develop a discard. All this assumes, of course, that West isn't getting tricky by leading the 9 from K 9 x.


  1. The neatest part of your play -- which you sort of glossed over, and, I bet, would have tripped me -- is the trump shortening play of ruffing a diamond in the long hand. By reducing dummy's trump length to equal that of your LHO, the trump coup operated. You deserved your 90% board: well done!

    Perhaps the most common tempo play arises in declaring notrump contracts where LHO leads the suit of RHO's overcall, and dummy holds Qxx opposite declarer's Kxx. Here the play of the queen does not gain a trick nor freeze continuation of the suit led. However, it forces RHO to take the ace at trick one; else you get two tricks in the suit. This can gain a tempo when it causes RHO to make a choice between playing a second round of the suit (which eliminates the suit from LHO, should he later gain the lead and have been dealt xx opposite AJTxx) and not playing a second round of the suit (which means the suit is not yet established for the defense).

  2. @Jeffrey: Thanks for the comment. When I was playing it, I admit I wasn't thinking trump coup, just that I knew it was safe to ruff diamonds with West being short and I wasn't worried about running out of trumps -- therefore it was a no-brainer.

  3. I've noticed that the Bots transfer then bid 3N with specifically 5332 shapes, usually with soft values that are spread.
    I'd have passed 3N with your hand. Probably make 4N, maybe even better with a heart lead.

  4. @Buffmeister: Thanks for the comment. I checked the traveler and three people played 3NT and they all made four for 96%.

  5. Hope you're having a good weekend, Dave!

  6. Sure, making more than 4N requires the defense to err, basically to not cash an Ace before it disappears. Not unknown in BBO world ;-)
    I was just pointing out the rationale behind eschewing the spade fit, no criticism implied. Switch the location of the doubletons, and you'd wish you were in 4S ;-)

  7. I saw that you mentioned a dummy and I thought I was being featured in your blog. : o )

  8. Hi Dave! I will be posting additional photos of Rainbow Springs in the days ahead on Florida Fotos. It's a nice place to spend an afternoon.