Friday, 15 November 2013

Criminal - Deal of the Week #10

This week TB and AP crushed the opposition to win the week and recover the lead in the series. But there were some missed opportunities - criminal misses.

Here's one where a mix up caused a missed game:

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

I had the North hand. After three passes, the bidding came round to me. With most partners I'd open that hand 1♠ in an instant, but in lunch time bridge you normally need thirteen points to open, so it's a borderline opener. After three passes you should open borderline hands only when you have good Spades, as the side with Spades can win the auction cheaply. So I opened 1♠. South, who originally passed, now has a much better hand, and is thinking straight away of playing 4♠.

But instead South bid 2♥, confident that his partner, who opened the bidding, would bid again. But his partner (me), didn't bid again. I didn't realise partner could have Spade support, and passed, thinking that was a cheap way to leave us in a low level making contract. With the ♣A and ♥KQ onside the result was an embarrassing 2♥+3. I now know that the house rules are that after you open you promise another bid - even if partner is a passed hand. This isn't a great agreement, but it's worth sacrificing a bit of bidding accuracy for simplicity so I'm happy to follow this from now on.

In the second hand below it's pretty clear what went wrong, we were in the wrong game. But I'm still not quite sure how to stop it:

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

South opened 1♥ and North replied 2♣. South rebid 2♥, which almost always shows a six card suit. North then showed his good Clubs, and slam ambition, with 4♣. The only bid available for South now is 4♥, which he bid. North then passed this, following the principle of keeping the bidding low in a misfit. But there's a saying "What do you call an eight card suit? Trumps!". North only has seven Clubs but looking at it now they're so good you know you're unlikely to ever lose more than one Club, but you can imagine several losers with Hearts as trumps.

South was stuck as declarer in 4♥. It looks pretty bad. You've got the ♠A to lose, along with probably three trumps (the ♥K, ♥J and ♥T). Even if you somehow get lucky and an opponent is forced to drop the ♥K for example, it's not really lucky as it just means the Hearts have split badly. After a Diamond lead the only shot is to try and discard your losing Spades on the winning Clubs and Diamonds. By the time you are discarding the last Spade an opponent will be out of Clubs and ruffing you, but if you are lucky trumps will split 4-3 and it will be the hand with four trumps that ruffs. Then you can draw trumps only losing that one ruff and two more.

South played this way, and briefly it looked like it might work, until the defence engineered a Diamond ruff, so the result was 4♥-1. This is bad news, as there's no beating 6♣ - you just lose one Spade. Another criminal missed opportunity.

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