Friday, 23 November 2012

Anna's League Match

This is from Anna's league match from Tuesday 20th November. I didn't play in the match, but got a report when Anna got home at 11pm and woke me up (apparently they got locked in the club at the end, hence the late finish).

This was the hand that apparently lost it for them. Basically after the opponents opened 1♦ Anna bid a 2♦ Michaels bid, but her partner didn't get it and kept bidding diamonds, culminating in Anna playing a catastrophic 4♦x-7, for -1700 points, a catastrophe at total points scoring. Coincidentally, at Anna's table the final points deficit was exactly 1700 points. Over the three tables, Buchanan Bridge Club narrowly lost the match.

Here's the disastrous auction in full, with the North and South hands as best Anna remembers. Favourable vulnerability.

♠ x
♥ x x x x
♦ Q x x
♣ K J x x x
♠ A x x x x
♥ K J x x x
♦ x x
♣ x

That auction needs an explanation. Since East opened 1♦, the 2♦ from South was a Michaels Cue Bid. It should have been alerted but wasn't. 3♦ from North was therefore a mistake. It looked like North-South might have got away with it when West bid 3NT, but still convinced of the diamond fit North now tried 4♦

I posted this hand on the Bridge Base Forums to ask what South should ethically do, read that here. Here's a summary of what the posters said:

  • South should basically "bid as if partner had properly alerted her bid", i.e. assume partner knows what he's doing.
  • So if you think an alert partner would bid 3♦ as "pick a major" you should pick a major, and if you think partner could be bidding 4♦ as natural you should pass that.
  • And if the only possible reason partner would bid 4♦ is because they've forgotten the system (and I'd say that is the case here), then you are ethically allowed to try 4♥, but this probably won't help anyway as he might then just bid 5♦ over you.

By way of contrast, here's a hand where Anna got a fantastic result, making a slam that should never even have been close to making.

♠ J x
♥ A J T 9 x x
♦ A J x x x
♣ -
♠ A K x x
♥ x
♦ x
♣ K Q T 9 8 x x

Looking at the North-South hands, what contract do you fancy? I'd say 4♥ is probably best. It's a massive misfit.

At the table North opened 1♥, and Anna sitting South replied 2♣. North had a tricky decision, and decided to rebid his Hearts (think I'd have bid Diamonds now). South made a forcing bid of 2♠ (a game forcing responder reverse), and North again decided to show his Hearts. South tried 4♣, which probably by the system is a cuebid agreeing Hearts. North cuebid 4♦ back, and Anna blasted 4NT. Presumably her plan was to play in Clubs, but I expect North thought the trump suit was Hearts.

How safe is Blackwood? Not very! Playing RKCB 1430 if partner has one keycard then he'll bid 5♣ which can be passed out. If he has two (or more) keycards, so bids at least 5♦ you have to play 6♣. There are two problems with this. Firstly, what if one of partner's keycards is the ♥K? That's no use to you as a control. Secondly, even if North has two Aces, as was the case here, that's not enough! This was starkly demonstrated when dummy came down with no trumps.

Have a look at the North-South hands in 6♣. Looks like two trump losers and two Spade losers, for 6♣-3.

Anna needed a miracle, and she got one. West led the ♥K. Declarer won the Ace, crossed to a top Spade and lead the ♣K. West took the ace, and fatally tried to cash the ♥Q. This was doomed to fail, as from the auction there was no way South could ever have two hearts. Anna eagerly ruffed this trick, and tried the ♣Q. When the ♣J dropped she had just one trump loser, and no Spade losers as hearts were all set up in dummy.

To make the slam you need a doubleton Jack of Clubs, and a very specific misdefence, where the defence set up hearts but don't take out dummy's diamond entry. There's no way declarer can make it on her own.

Addendum: since the match someone has claimed that in aggregate scoring that -1700 deficit for 4♦x=7 should have been capped. Not sure what's happening about that.

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