Top on a board is 39. Your partner is either Mike
Shuster or I, mostly Mike on the problems given
because I had most of the strange hands.
| QJ6 |
| K9874 |
What do you think of the bidding?
I think it's ok. Declarer gave up on slam pretty
quickly, but since this is matchpoints, I think that
is sensible. 3 splinter (if discussed) is reasonable.
You get a trump lead from Mohan. Plan the play.
I don't see a problem--I'd duck in dummy and continue
trumps. Maybe they will duck again. If so, I can take
a club hook, cross to the heart, pitching a diamond,
take another club hook and pitch a diamond to make six.
This assumes that the client has the Ace; Mohan would
never duck. Mike played it by winning in hand, heart to
the table, J off the dummy, covered and won. Trump to
dummy ducked (yay!) diamond pitch and club hook. When
the hook lost, Mohan continued hearts (oops!) and Mike
made five. I understand why the client ducked the trump
ace the second time (she plays her cards randomly,) but
why Mohan didn't cash partner's diamond is beyond me.
--- J9862 --- AKQ98753
Board 2, right out of the box. White vs. Red, dealer.
What is your initial action? What is your plan?
Damfino. I opened 5 and it went float. The client
on my left had KQJxxxx x KQJx x and passed. My plan
was to allow myself to be pushed into 6 as long as
they didn't bid hearts. I got the lead of the stiff
heart and falsecarded from my hand acting like she
led a doubleton. Mohan shifted to the spade Ace.
Dummy was J10x KQx A10xx xxx. +420 was below average
because we are getting to hearts which they are forgetting
to beat or getting 500 from 6x. Unbelievable.
End Round 1. We were in the middle of the pack.
A954 K7 103 QJ543 Vul vs not.
2, of course. Never let white opponents play
1NT at matchpoints if you have any excuse. 1NT
is probably going down 1. +90 was a fine score
when they let me make it. Amazing. They have
misdefended on the first three boards. Maybe we'll
win this thing.
A10 105 KQ9732 543
What is your plan?
I bid 5 which is down 1. They did not double, though
-100 and -200 are the same. 4 is cold unless you find
the heart lead, hop trump ace and give partner a ruff.
No one found that defense, though Roberto led hearts.
He didn't tell me what his continuation would have been.
End Round 2. We are off the board by 4 matchpoints.
They are computing the carryovers now, and since we
Q'd with a 177.8, we shall have minimal carryover.
10 105 KQJ965 QJ95 White vs Red.
I passed, figuring we'll go for at least 800. Their
fine bidding does not inspire confidence in their
making it, either. Wrong. -1430 when declarer claimed
at trick 2. That was worth 3 matchpoints. -1100 would
have been worth 8.
If you pass or double, what do you lead?
Obviously, a club. Irrelevant, though.
| Q107 |
| K5 |
You lead the 4, which goes to pard's 9 and
declarer's King. Small spade back. Let's say
you duck smoothly. Declarer inserts the 10 and
pard's Jack wins. He fires back the 3.
What's your plan?
Duck. Do you really want partner to have to discard
at this point? I don't. Unfortunately, I had a
brain fart and continued clubs. Declarer then proceded
to drop everything in sight and scored up 4 when neither
of us could work out that he'd opened a 19 count. Zero.
Well deserved. This misdefense stuff is catching.
End Round 3. I blew a board, putting us below average.
Things are looking grim.
- No real problem. They pass a negative double at the
two level, and we get to play 2 smacked with an 8-card
fit. -500 wins vs. a red game for a near top. Another
example: don't let the opponents play an 8-card fit at
- Again, their problem. They had AQ9xx vs. 10xxx in
trumps and played the suit technically right. (Which
is?) This is one my normal bete noires and this time
the burn got them.
End Round 4. Finally they have posted the carryovers.
We have 20.92 out of a max of 78. A good round has
put us over average, but not in striking distance of
- Q97 K854 K98 972 Red Vs. White (Mike's problem)
What do you lead?
A heart seems obvious, but I'm not so sure. This might
be a very strong auction, though we can't tell for sure.
It is probably best at matchpoints to try to avoid blowing
a trick. At the table, I think I'd lead a heart, but a club
is probably best in theory. In practise a spade lead will
hold it to five, a heart lead will make six trivial, and anything
else will make declarer work for six. It's there, but he might
not get it right. -490 was a crummy score (12+).
- --- AJ10986 AK102 K106 Both vul. (Mike held this one.)
Methods: double is takeout, 4NT is very shapely takeout.
I'd bid 5. Mike bid 4NT and converted 5 to 5, which evoked
a double. 5 is cold. +850 was a near top.
End Round 5. Climbing, but still out.
- 102 J62 K9865 K103 (Mike's)
Early bids: 1 is 4+, limited to 15 HCP.
1NT is not forcing.
Pass seems pretty obvious. You've pushed them
up to the three level via some courageous bidding.
(Nice going partner.) If you beat them it should
be good. Wrong. +50 was average. Mike doubled. 31+
- --- 8 KQ108653 AK943 They're vul.
Another damfino, but I'd pass. There is no way
this will end the auction, though. I did pass and
LHO bid 5. That went around to me and I bid 6
which was left unmolested. 6 is cold. Why did
they not double? Why did LHO pass? He had nine (!)
solid and a side ace. 6 is 500 only. +920 is
a great score.
What do you do if they bid 5 or 6 later?
Over five, I bid. Six I'll double.
End Round 6: A 31+ and a 32+ place us 10th
and on on the board!
- Vs. Jeff Ferro. He plays a cold 3NT
and uses his radar to hold himself to 3 only
when the rest of the room is making 4 or 5. 33+,
which seems unduly harsh on him. He says that
the whole session has been like that--they've
- A96 K8543 Q4 A65 None vul. (Mike's problem)
* After a long hesitation.
This is a toughie. On the surface, it looks as if
you should balance, but on reflection, that's not so
clear. The hesitation marks Holtz with some values.
Partner is in a pre-balancing situation and he didn't
bid, so he probably doesn't have much. If they have
decent hands, notrump will score better than diamonds,
which means they have made a mistake.
They had. -130 was a great score. 2 went for 300,
which was an average. They are cold for game, though
it was only bid about half the time. Notrump is making
3 or 4, so we had the board won. Tough decision--finding
the opponents' error is always hard.
By the way, why didn't you bid 1 the first time?
End Round 7: Moved up to 9th after an OK round
against the Junior team anchors. It could have
- AKJ82 KQ10965 J 5 White vs. Red.
I passed. 4 is cold and it is obvious that it is, so redouble
is a resonable choice. They have an easy save in 5, but they
will have a tough time finding it. They might have saved in 5.
That's 2000. Someone acquired that score and got 38.99 matchpoints.
What do you need to do to get a top? We got a 30.79, so 880 was
only a couple more points. 5 is bloody, too.
- AQ6 KJ104 QJ75 Q3
What does partner's double mean? They are not vulnerable,
so we are not letting them play 1NT undoubled. It seems
like it ought to be takeout. If so, then what do I bid?
He ought to have three hearts and four diamonds. I think
we can make either of those, so I bid 2 for the shot at
140. He bid 2. What's going on? Can he have four spades,
too? I guess so, if they are not good enough to double 1.
I passed this. Wrong. He was 3-2-4-4 with a six count.
1NT is down on a diamond lead, but has play for 2 on a
heart lead. 3 diamonds is cold unless they find their
spade ruff and you don't break it up by playing hearts
early. Who should have bid it? 2 is down 200 for 1 matchpoint.
End Round 8: Oops. A 1 on board 16 puts us 4 matchpoints
out of 10th place. We have fallen off the board. Goldman
and Shugart look like a lock with a full board lead at the
- J632 109 4 KQJ874 None vul. (Mike's hand)
3. What's the problem? It went float and it has no play.
They didn't defend tough and we ended up -50. They can make
3, and they'd've done it doubled looking at my hand. Wimpy
- AQJ1098 95 7 K1096 White vs Red. (Mike.)
Seems obvious to open 1. Game is not out of the question.
If partner supplies a limit raise, I'll bid game and be
sure to make it. Do they have hearts? Dunno, but I doubt
that they have four, and since I have spades, overpreempting
is not necessary. In real life, Mike opened 3, bought the
hand there and made it for 140. I had xx Axx AJTxxxx x.
Their max is 2, but we are getting minus scores a lot.
I assume, therefore, that my hand opened, which gets us to
either diamonds (bad) or too high. 3 is cold.
Looking at the whole hand, 1 might get us too high, too.
It might go 1-(2)-X-(3)-? If this hand bids 3, I'll
probably continue to 4. If Mike passes, I'll either bid
4 or double. Double is the winner--either we get 200 or
140. I doubt I'd find a 3 call; I'd probably bid 4.
Good job, Mike.
End Round 9: We stole both boards and Mike guessed the
play well on one of them to get a 27 and a 26. (19+ is
average.) We are less than half a matchpoint from 10th.
- South opens an 11 count and passes a forcing bid
later in the auction, missing a vul game that is cold
on a show-up squeeze. (The hook works, but the queen
shows up.) We only get a 23+. TANJ.
- Opening lead problem for the bad guys. They blow
it on an auction where I chose not to use a toy that
shows strength in the other major with a limit raise.
Lucky us. Another 28+
End Round 10: Entering the home stretch, we are up
to 9th. Goldman and Shugart are now almost two boards
in front. We are about one whole board out of second.
It is a dogfight.
- A108 KQ875 753 63 White on Red.
2nd seat, dealer passes.
Pass, of course. This is a good hand, but not an opening
bid. Why would you want to preempt partner? He opened
1, I bid 1, and he rebid 2NT. We have Wolff available,
but with a 9-count and a decent five-card suit, I just
bid 3NT. Unfortunately, he had only two hearts, so
everyone reached 3NT. It's cold. They led diamonds,
so we made five. A spade lead holds it to 3. 31+.
Opening leader had J9x xx Q9xx xxxx. Why would he lead
spades? Maybe Mike is the culprit: he held xxx Jx AKJ AKQJ8.
Those who reversed into 2 got themselves into trouble and
forced a spade lead.
- J73 5 1098 K109764 Red vs White
3NT seems obvious. Would pass be forcing? It probably
shouldn't be, but who could pass with a 21-count? It
won't take much to score 3NT and that's what I bid.
Didn't work this time. Pard held one heart stop, no
A, and AKxxxx. If diamonds had
broken 2-2, 3NT would have rolled. Nope. -400. Ick. Would you
believe 12 matchpoints? They can make 3 or 4 if I
forget to lead trumps, but there weren't any 420s. Just
lots of company and a few going down more.
End Round 11: We hold on to 9th. A top and an average
minus actually move us up closer to the leaders because
Goldman-Shugart have a disasterous round and are now 2nd
(by a hair) to Campbell-McLellan. Third is less than
half a board away from us.
- AK95 AQJ954 43 A (Mike's hand)
I'd bid 2, a help suit slam try. Slam could easily be
cold and 4 could easily be better than 4. Mike bid 4.
450 was an average plus (how?) when spades is making six
on a non-diamond lead. On a diamond lead (very likely,)
everything makes five.
- 5432 J52 9854 Q10 None vul
They have a slam unless Mike has AKxxx and spades are 2-2.
At this point, I'd say he has a five-card suit 90% of the
time. So what should I do? These opponents are good.
Psyching will probably not work well, so I tried 4. It
went x-p-4NT-float. I led the 5 and dummy hit with
a monster including KQ10x. Mike ducked and got
squeezed out of the A for -520. Slam is cold in
hearts, diamonds, or notrump. 32 matchpoints.
End Round 12: A top and a average plus put us in the running
for the event. We are 6th, two matchpoints out of third and
a half board out of 2nd. Campbell-McClellan are now a half
board ahead of Goldman-Shugart, but are well within striking
distance. Our last round will be against Paul Soloway and
his client. They have moved into our normal 9th place and
have a chance for the event, too, but a small one. They will
probably go for it. If they do and fail, we can win the event.
- Q102 1042 Q85 6543
Your lead. Red vs. White.
Gloom, Despair, and Agony on me. It is right to lead diamonds.
I am shorter in that suit, so more tricks are likely to cash and
I have the queen, so partner needs less for this lead to be
useful. In practise, wrong. Mike had Axx A Jxxx AQ9xx. Dummy
has Kx and spade pitches, so a club lead beats this and
the diamond lead let it make. So much for the event. 6+ puts us
out of it. Should Mike have overcalled clubs instead of doubling?
Without one of the major suit aces, it is clear. With both, it is
very close, but I'd probably bid. We are unlikely to buy this hand
and if Soloway is playing it, I want partner to lead clubs. If the
client is playing it, I am happy anyway. Down 1 is worth 30.
- A A4 AK983 K8542
Huh? What is this double by Soloway? Where are the spades?
Partner clearly has hearts, not spades since he didn't bid the
first time and came to life over my reopening. Aha! Soloway is
void in hearts and has spade length. Slam is going down on a
ruff. 3NT. Right. They lead hearts and Mike had x K9xxx Qxxx Axx.
Very unfortunately, clubs don't break or I make six, beating
everyone. As it is, I take my ten tricks for a 25. That seems
unfair somehow, but they only have 9 tricks in spades, which is
800 in 6X. That must be who is beating me. North is 7-0-2-4
and probably is saving all the time when he finds spade support
in partner's hand. Oh, well. We've been lucky a fair bit of the
time, just not enough.
End Round 13: I got board 26 right, but 25 wrong. A 6+ and
a 25 drop us back down to 9th and move Soloway up to 6th.
If I get the lead right on 25, we get an additional 23 matchpoints
and are 3rd overall. Campbell-McClellan hold on, but only beat us
by a board and a half. This event was available. Let's see if you
win it. Strangely, there was nothing at all to the play of the hands.
This whole game was a bidding competition.