Cambs & Hunts Bridge
|Newsletter Number 23||30 September 1999|
|Editors:||Chris Jagger, 2 Wycliffe Road, Cambridge CB1 3JD, Tel: 01223-526586 and|
|Jonathan Mestel, 180 Queen's Gate, London SW7 2BZ, Tel: 01223-329671.|
|E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com|
|Unofficial web page: http://members.aol.com/gilescw/chcba.html|
The next newsletter is scheduled to appear on 30th December. Please try to get copy to us no later than 15th December. All contributions welcome!
The county still has no permanent tournament organiser, but competitions will be organised as follows. Jenny Jacobsberg will run the County Individual and County Pairs events, Chris Larlham the Club Challenge, Ann Curtin the Garden Cities event, and Chris Jagger the County Knock-Out. Due to general lack of support, the Multi Teams and Jubilee Pairs will not be held this year. We hope to reinstate these competitions at some future date, possibly with new formats.
We hear on the grapevine that two people have been caught cheating at a Welsh Congress. Apparently they were substituting pre-sorted boards for use in their Swiss Teams matches!
|In this issue John Young discusses the rationale behind preempting. Continuing their series of articles on Clubs in the County, Ann Curtin and John Turner describe the Saffron Walden Club. Jonathan Mestel describes some hands where sixes played an important r^ole, while following on from his articles on 3NT and 4NT openers, Chris Jagger suggests a use for an opening bid of 5NT! We give the solutions to the overbidders challenge from last issue and there is the usual round-up of news and events.|
Here are two problems discussed later. First, defend 3 on 5 lead.
Secondly, play 5 by West on 5 lead.
In two hands from the Premier League second division a lowly 6 proved quite crucial.
How would you play 5 by South on the lead of the 5 to the 3, 7 and Q?
Declarer entered dummy with K and ran Q. Paul Barden (W) won this and continued hearts. Declarer drew trumps and eliminated the red suits to leave North on lead with
Declarer now led the 9 and finessed when I covered. Paul exited with the 7 to the 8, J and A. Declarer cashed his trump, but Paul won trick 13 with the 6.
I didn't notice at the time, but someone who had seen the hand-records could have led the 5 in the diagram instead of the 9...
A better line for 11 tricks is to cash A at trick 2. Then after eliminating the red suits declarer exits with a trump and the endplay is 100%. Unfortunately, the contract was actually 4 not 5, so that was only +1IMP.
Not long after, another 6 was significant:
The 7 was led to the 10 and East switched to a club giving 10 tricks as the heart length is marked. Instead, continuing spades would have led to a trump promotion and one down. It seems to me that the club switch requires partner to hold something like a 2-0-5-6 shape with two aces, when he'd surely have acted over 3, but perhaps the stiff 6 was a long shot also. After the hand, I promised partner that in future I'd hold stronger suits for my 3-level jump overcalls (though 5 is cold). He replied "You mean something like KJ6432?"
The Saffron Walden Bridge Club meets every Wednesday evening at the Conservative Club. We have visited Saffron Walden several times to play matches, but always in winter, so we were very much struck on this occasion with the beauty of the town itself when we played at the club mid-August. We parked in the market square which (unlike Cambridge) is mercifully free of ugly stalls with canvas awnings and one has a clear view of the lovely facades of all the buildings facing the square. The Conservative Club is a few steps up a road leading from the square. The Conservative Club occupies a splendid building in its own right. The Bridge Club operates from a large and comfortable room on the first floor. The ground floor is like a huge pub, with a three-sided bar.
This present location is the Bridge Club's second home. The club was started in the late seventies by Jack DeLee, who is its present chairman. Fortunately, as we arrived, Jack was at the bar, having a pre-game drink, and told us about the club's history. Jack himself learned to play bridge during the war when he spent time in an army hospital. After the war he didn't play at all for a long time. Jack became the proprietor of the King's Head pub in Saffron Walden. Wednesday evening was his night off and he had a firm arrangement with his wife that he stayed home on his night off. In the mid 1970s he resumed playing rubber bridge with three friends in the pub on a Wednesday evening. One table of rubber bridge developed into a club evening with several tables and in 1979 Peter Burrows joined the club and organised duplicate bridge. Fiske Warren joined the club a year later, became very much involved in its organisation and it has continued to flourish.
In 1992 Jack gave up running the pub. The club could not be sure that the new pub owner would have a similar interest in bridge and it therefore moved, to its present premises. There is no club subscription - the club is funded by table money of 1.00 per player. All members belong to the EBU.
The two most famous members of the club are Fiske Warren and Chris Larlham. Fiske has been much involved in the running of the club, especially in its early days. He started teaching evening bridge classes (at Saffron Walden County School) in 1983, and continued for ten years. Having run the local market dry he no longer gives the classes, but gives lessons when asked, and recently has been coaching the enemy (Balsham). The classes used to generate a fair number of recruits to the Bridge Club.
Fiske is a fine player and has reached final stages in both Crockfords and the Gold Cup. He plays regularly for the County A team and regularly represents the County at the Tollemache. He has contributed to the County's qualifying for the final for several years recently, but actually winning the Tolle for Cambs and Hunts is yet to be achieved. Fiske's current role in the club is that of `Honorary Expert'.
Everyone in the county will know Chris Larlham, the County Captain, who selects the teams for the Eastern Counties League, and the organiser of the South Cambs League. Chris's position in the club is that of Club Captain and Tournament Director. Chris has held this post for some years and the club is extraordinarily fortunate to have someone with his cool efficiency and friendly charm to run its sessions.
A quite interesting ending came up on one hand against David Nicholson and Chris Larlham. The full deal (rotated for convenience) was:
Over a very thin double from David, I raised to 2 and Chris came in with 2 with, it seemed, a lot in reserve. Ann pressed on to 3 with her quite decent hand and side-fit in diamonds. David naturally passed and I went on to 4, over which Chris bid 4, which I doubled.
Ann led a small to my Ace and I then played AKQ, Chris ruffing high. He then followed with AK, clearing the trumps, and exited slightly deceptively with J to the Q. Ann took this and wrongly switched a small club, which as it happens ruined my holding in that suit, leading to just two off (+300 was still very good for us as 4 has no chance). Suppose, however, Ann plays back a third heart: now declarer would have ruffed in dummy with the 3 and would have had to attack clubs himself. Assuming that he has preserved the 6 as a further entry to dummy (which requires two unblocking plays), what should he do? Chris suggested that he would have run the J, which I would have covered with the Queen, King, Ace, endplaying Ann. But she of course can foil this by not playing her Ace. Declarer must then re-enter dummy with the 6 and play clubs again, taking a view about the position of the A/9. (In fact, if you consider the bidding and play so far the A must be with Ann.) However, when I later checked the hand with Chris by e-mail he admitted that he had probably forgotten to preserve the 6 as an entry!
We were doing quite well until we met Jane & Kit Orde-Powlett in the last round, getting two near-bottoms. The first of these was:
Jane opened a Lucas 2, showing a weak hand with just 5 hearts plus at least a four-card minor. I had an easy 2 over this, and Kit didn't have much of a problem either - he bid 5! That would certainly have made, probably with an overtrick, but Ann bid on to 5, encouraged by the vulnerability, and Kit quite reasonably decided to double this rather than gamble 6. With the clubs lying nicely for me I easily got out for two off, losing three hearts and a club, for -300. This turned out to be a very bad score, one declarer going three off in 5 but not doubled, another (Chris Larlham) managing to get out for just one off in 5 doubled. Like me, he'd had a Lucas 2 opened against him and I was intrigued to find out how exactly he'd managed the tenth trick. He said the defence started with diamonds, ruffed, and he crossed to dummy's J and immediately played a club - which is quite risky, with one trump still out - on which East played the Ace and continued with a second diamond. Then Chris crossed to the K, finessed the J, cashed the King, ruffed the last club, then - the key play - ruffed the third diamond. Then he exited with a heart and West was well and truly fixed. Well played!
* * * * *
The atmosphere at the Saffron Walden Club is extremely pleasant. The bridge is taken seriously - Chris produces by e-mail for those interested an EHA (even-handed analysis) after each session. He analyses the hands, obviously from his point of view, but also indicates how different pairs have performed on various hands. In addition, there is a tremendous feeling of warmth. The members know each other well and an evening playing bridge at the club is also an occasion for meeting and chatting to friends. Visitors and new members are most welcome, as was confirmed by the most enjoyable evening that John and I spent there.
Quotes from the past
I have seen it reported that Sir Winston Churchill was a bridge player of no great standing. Allegedly, his partner once remonstrated with him, after having based a losing defence on one of Churchill's discards.
"The cards I discard are by definition of no importance," came the grand reply.
"It is the cards I choose to keep that you should consider."
George Kaufman (the thirties playwright), having watched his partner butcher a bridge hand, enquired exasperatedly
"Just how long have you been playing this game?"
He then added:
"Don't tell me since this afternoon. I want to know what time this afternoon".
As promised last month, I shall continue with my series of "Conventions you don't need to know". The 5NT opener is not a common beast, and you could be forgiven for thinking there is no such thing. Referring to various books about Acol I could find no reference whatsoever!
Fortunately, a couple of years ago I agreed to play with Paul Lamford in an event, and a detailed system discussion ensued. He told me that there was an obvious meaning to this opener - it asks partner to pick a minor, or bid a grand with a key minor suit card. "It's quite common," he assured me, "it's already come up twice".
As there is nothing terribly obvious apart from this, and it is easy to remember and use, it seems sensible enough. For example, with - A AQJ10xx AKQJxx you would open 5NT. If partner has the king of diamonds he would realise that that was a useful card and bid the grand. Similarly - - KQJ10xxx AKQJxx would open 5NT. It's no use opening 4NT on these hands - if partner showed two aces you wouldn't know which he had!
The system can also be abused a little. With - - KQJxxxxxxx AKQ you would also open 5NT. It is true that you haven't exactly got the minors, but you could safely correct to diamonds, and partner will get the message.
This is all very well, but what if you have a two suiter without both minors, and only one loser? I'm afraid you just have to rely on traditional methods, though I can give you some extra help. It is quite possible to play the 5NT opener as showing either the minors or the majors, with one loser. Partner assumes you have the minors, but only bids at the seven level if he has the necessary cards for both a minor and a major suit grand to make. If he just has the minor cards, he bids 6 or 6, telling partner to pass with a major, and bid on with a minor. And the great thing about this modification to the system is that we have doubled the frequency of the convention!
Now just sit back and await the arrival of this convention - though I can't guarantee that men won't arrive from outer space first!
Addendum by JM: A great idea! I propose the following alternative: an opening 5NT should show any two suits, but missing precisely one of the four top cards. Responses are:
7: I have an A/K in three suits
6: I have an A/K in each minor
6: I have an A/K in , but not in ,
6: I do not have A/K of .
Over 6 or 6 opener can bid a suit he holds but in which he lacks an A/K. I think this enables us to cope with all eventualities, but only provided we are prepared to play in either of our suits. Cambs & Hunts newsletter is clearly the place for up-to-date bidding theory debates!
To cover all aspects of preempting would take a large book, so we intend to show some of the critical factors, under the headings - Why, When, Level and Defence.
WHY? The theory is that left to their own devices, players should reach a reasonable contract, though evidence from the travellers sometimes contradicts this. By preempting, whether by opening or by overcalling you have given your side an advantage, because your partner is in a good position to judge who should have the contract, whilst the opponents may well be guessing.
Sometimes of course it backfires, when opponents make inspired bids which they would not have made without the preempt, however you hope to gain in the long run.
Of course, the main reason to preempt the baddies is because it's fun, making interesting scores and stories.
WHEN? Like most things timings and judgment areas are difficult elements, but here are a few guidelines. Remember that the idea is to cause problems for the opponents, not ourselves.
Vulnerability is critical - Green (nonvulnerable v vulnerable), White (NV v NV), Amber (V v V), and Red (V v NV). Also position - whether you are in 1st (ie dealer), 2nd or 3rd position.
Green at 1st position is the safest area, with Red at 2nd the most dangerous - for you are more likely to go for an expensive penalty against little for the opponents, whilst you are equally more likely to preempt your partner rather than the opponents.
With this in mind, Q1098x x J10xx xxx is okay as a Green 1st position weak two, whilst Kxxxxxx Qx Kx Qx would be a horrible second in hand preempt at Red. Suit quality rather than point count is the key factor. KQJ9xxx x xxxx x would be everybody's Red 2nd in hand three level opener.
Also, you are announcing to partner that you only want to play in that suit, which is why KJx Qxxxxx x Qxx is far from ideal as a weak two, since you may want to play in spades, clubs, no trumps, or, if partner has some support, your own suit!
Admittedly some people do agree a completely random style of preempts, but you have got to accept that you may kill off your partner as well as your opponents!
LEVEL? Once you have decided to preempt you also have to judge the level. Basically you want the hardest level for the opponents to judge, without risking a vast penalty yourself. Choose the highest level you can justify to teammates, and then shut up for the rest of the auction.
DEFENCE? There is the `live' position, and the `protective' position. When opponents have opened 3 straight in front of you, you are in the live position, and want a decentish opening bid to come in, perhaps 14+ points, though be freer to come in with shortage (add a couple for a singleton in their suit, subtract a point for three card holding). Avoid coming in with a hand suitable for a weak no trump.
The protected position is when they have opened on your left followed by two passes. This is much more tempting as you are less likely to be doubled (doubles by preempter's partner should ALWAYS be for penalties since that person knows pretty accurately what his partner has, and the biggest point of preempting is to take penalties), and partner no longer has a chance to bid.
Some people still do play penalty doubles of preempts, but the fact that the only thing that the top players can agree on is the use of takeout doubles should be sufficient evidence that this really is the best way to defend against preempts. (Some people play penalty doubles because they don't want opponents to `get away with it' - but this is in fact exactly what they do if you play penalty doubles. For, though sometimes you can use the double, far more often you are stuck without any sensible option.)
Whatever you think of preempts, one of the important things to know is what to expect of partner. And that can only come by partnership discussion. So next time you are thinking of preempting, don't count your points. Look at your suit quality, the number of trumps, and what you are aiming to achieve.
An Introduction to the County Competitions
The aim of this short piece is to give a quick introduction to the competitions that the County runs. Further details about these or anything else, including possibilities of sorting out partners/teammates, can be obtained from Chris Jagger or anybody else on the committee.
County Teams Knock-Out: Four players make up a team, to play a friendly match in the home against another team. If you get knocked out straight away, you get another bite of the cherry by playing in the Plate competition. This competition ought to attract EVERYBODY. My tip is that if you draw a stronger team, ply them with a little alcohol and you'll be amazed how easy it is to beat them!
Newmarket Open Swiss Teams: Teams of four open to people from outside the County too. This has always been a very popular event, with the exciting `Swiss' format being used.
County Individual/Pairs: These two events have heats organised by the clubs, and give the leading pairs/players from each club the chance to do battle against those from other clubs.
Garden Cities: For CLUB teams of eight. If your club does not enter already then it should! As many teams as you like can enter, to compete for the chance to represent the County at the regional final in Peterborough.
Swiss Teams Club Challenge: A club teams of eight combined with open teams of four competition. Club teams must contain at least two players ranked below 1 Star Master. EBU/County membership is not necessary for this competition, and this is intended to be a good opportunity for those who have not played in a County competition before. Though really there is nothing to fear from any of them!
Eastern Counties League: Your chance to represent the County against other counties. It is intended that everybody should be given the opportunity to play in the C team, so please nominate yourself or other members of your club if you'd like a go. Chris Larlham is the County captain.
It would be nice to see higher attendance at all the County competitions. Often in the past, the less experienced don't turn up for fear of the more experienced player, whilst the more experienced players are off competing in Timbuctoo for the national prize! In addition, we have an overworked and underrepresented County committee. Why not get involved?!
The county has had a promising start in the Eastern Counties League. The results so far: v Northants 12-0, 8-4, 2-10; v Norfolk 0-12, 3-9, 8-4; v Beds 8-4, 8-4, 4-8.
In the County Knock-out final, JAGGER bt HARRISON but went on to a dismal performance in the Pachabo. Similarly there were no star performances from the Corwen, Jagger/Young finishing highest on about 8th. In the Garden Cities, the Cambridge Club won the Peterborough heat convincingly, but only managed fifth in the national final.
Perse Boys A (M Pattenden, S Joshi, S Rolph, Q Croft) won the Cambs & Hunts Schools Cup 1999.
The Cambridge Club got to the last 8 of the NICKO before losing to a relatively weak team from Surrey.
Gough, Larlham, Nicholson and Warren won the Hereford One-day Swiss Teams. Jagger and Jagger teamed up with Williams and Baker to come 2nd in the B Final at the Brighton Teams, whilst Brodie was in the team that came 2nd in the Brighton Bowl (consolation teams).
Young came 2nd with Williams in the Scarborough Swiss Pairs, whilst Birdsall, Faber and Zakrzewski came 2nd in the teams B final.
Woodruff and Shaw won the Consolation B final at the Bournemouth Spring Congress. Howard, Campbell, Stelmashenko and Milman came second in the Kent Swiss Teams.
Mestel's and Woodruff's teams both got to the last 32 of the Gold Cup before being knocked out. Jagger's team is into the last 16 of the Hubert Phillips Bowl.
Congratulations to Giles Woodruff on his recent promotion to Premier Life Master.
Around the Clubs
The Thursday Club: Since June the 24th, the Thursday Club has been meeting at Butler House, Trinity College instead of our usual room at Adrian House. We are not sure how long it will be before we can return to Adrian House, but due to the shortage of space in our present venue we very much regret that we are unable to accept visiting pairs. South Cambs. League home matches will also be played at alternative venues.
The winner of the President's Shield this year was Susan Hilken. The Fry Trophies, a teams event, was won by Joanne Caldwell, Kevin Smith, Susan Hilken and Anne Beytell. Jack Townsend and Ken Jackson won the Swan Shield. Our club championship, the St. John Championship was won by Ken and Sheila Barker and the plate competition, the Mackenzie Trophy was won by Jack Townsend and Arthur Fried. Sally Dempster and Ken Barker won the Unusual Partnership Pairs and the winners of the two-session Orchard Pairs were Shirley Rainbow and Julie Robinson.
Solution to the Overbidder's Challenge
Here are the solutions to the four problems from last issue to do with low point-count slams:
1. The 7 redoubled hand comes from the James Bond novel "Moonraker." Sadly, the hand was omitted from the film version.
2. The minimum number of points needed to make 7NT is eleven. For example, give dummy AQJ to 12 spades, and the ace of hearts, and the person on lead the rest of the major suit cards. Declarer has - - 765432 8765432, which is a poor hand for no trumps.
3. The only distribution of the E-W cards for which you can make 6 (though only due to the inept club lead - surely a heart stands out?!) is as follows:
Win the lead, ruff a club, finesse a diamond, ruff another club and draw two rounds of trumps. A diamond to the ace now allows the last trump to be drawn and the 10 to be cashed. East is now subjected to an elementary trump squeeze. He can only keep four cards. If he comes down to KQJ and 9 then the 10 is unblocked, before ruffing back to hand to cash the fourth diamond. On the other hand, if he keeps two diamonds and two hearts, declarer crosses to the A, and ruffs the heart out, still having the 10 as an entry to dummy's good heart.
4. By relying on awful defence 7NT can be made with a Yarborough in both hands:
West leads the 8 won with the nine, East discarding the A. After another three spades have been cashed, East has parted with his hearts. North now cashes the 9, West carelessly parting with 10, and now the heart suit can be run.
Dates for your diary:
|Sun 7th Nov||Newmarket Open Swiss Teams||Newmarket|
|Sun 12th Dec||ECL v Herts||Trumpington|
|Sun 16th Jan||Garden Cities Qualifier||Trumpington (provisionally)|
|Sun 23rd Jan||ECL v Essex||Away|
|Sun 30th Jan||County Individual Final||Comberton|
|Sun 6th Feb||ECL v Suffolk||To be announced|
|Sun 20th Feb||County Pairs Final||Comberton|
|Sun 27th Feb||ECL v University||To be announced|
Apologies for inflicting another article on you, but I have to fill the space somehow.
At IMPs, vulnerable against not, you hold A6x Axxx Kxx Axx and RHO opens 3. What do you do?
If you pass, so does LHO and partner bids 3. If on the other hand you double, partner bids 5. In either case, what is your next bid?
In a Gold Cup match I somewhat conservatively first passed and then bid 3NT. The full hand was something like
Not a great success, as 6 is rigid. However, I ducked the K lead and won the spade continuation throwing a heart and a club from dummy. I then ran all the minor cards to reach the following ending:
When the last diamond was led, E/W are caught in a double guard squeeze. In fact Heather Dhondy as East threw a spade establishing my 6 as a threat against West, I threw a club and it was all over. A slightly better defence is for her to throw a heart and her partner to throw a spade, when I have to guess whether she has in fact been squeezed in clubs and hearts, or whether to finesse for the Q.
There was nothing clever about this, but it did afford me a certain Pyrrhic satisfaction. At the other table, Jeremy Dhondy doubled 3 and raised 5 to six, although presumably partner would have bid the same with one more black card. His 6 scored more than my 6! We lost the match by 10 IMPs, and this was one of my (many) contributions to the result.