Cambs & Hunts Bridge
|Newsletter Number 27||30 December 2000|
|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: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Web page: http://www.gismo99.freeserve.co.uk/bridge/CHCBA/|
The next newsletter is scheduled to appear on 30th April. Please try to get copy to us no later than 15th April. All contributions welcome!
The County welcomes Rod Oakford, an erstwhile Gold Cup finallist, to its ranks.
Do you keep your past Newsletters for posterity, or has one issue, perhaps containing a vital article on the conventional meaning of a 7NT opener which you desperately want to consult, been mislaid? Well, if so, your worries are over. Past newsletters, and sundry articles therefrom, are now available on the County Web page, whose URL is given above. Any data to be included on the site should be sent to David Allen on email@example.com
|In this issue Peter Burrows invites you once more to spot the link between three hands. Chris Jagger discusses count signals and low level reverses. There is a report on the Cambridge club's triumph in the NICKO and the usual round-up of News and Events.|
Choose your contract!
Some people regard it as a personal failing when their intricate bidding system fails to get them to the right contract. Others, regarding the whole process as somewhat random, are content to reach a plausible contract most of the time.
It's so much easier to find a way of reaching the top spot when you can see all the hands. Or is it? What contract would you like to be in as N/S on the hand below? And if you got there, would you be proud of it!?
A low level reverse is one such as (uncontested) 1-1-2. The 2 bid shows extra values, as it forces partner to the three level if he wishes to put back to clubs. However, as partner has only responded at the one level it clearly cannot be game forcing (though should be forcing). In contrast, 1-2-2 should be game forcing, as if partner has enough to bid at the two level it is unlikely that you will not want to go to game.
There are four low level reverse auctions, the other three being 1-1-2, 1-1-2, and 1-1-2. The problem in these auctions is to distinguish when you wish to go to game or not. Playing standard methods, if it starts 1-1-2, then 2, 2NT, and 3 would be taken as non-forcing, thus showing a weak hand, with every other bid as game-forcing. If you want to agree clubs with a strong hand you cannot simply bid 3, you must either jump to 4, or go via fourth suit forcing, potentially creating a much more murky auction.
To get round this problem, you may have heard people mention 'Lowest of fourth suit and 2NT is bad'. What this means in the sequence 1-1-2 is that ALL weak hands bid 2, with partner responding in the weakest thing he is prepared to play in, usually 2. The 2 bidder will then pass 2, or bid 2NT, 3 or 3, showing a weak hand wanting to play there in each case. Thus, if instead you have a stronger hand with clubs, you can bid 3 immediately, knowing that partner will not pass you.
If, however, the auction had started 1-1-2 then now 2NT would be the bid for all the weak hands, as 2NT would now be lower than 4th suit. The rest would work approximately as before.
Usually the discussion on these sequences stops at this point, leaving several awkward unagreed sequences. In the rest of this article we aim to cover these sequences, and suggest a modification. One of the key weaknesses of the system as discussed so far is that the opener does little to describe his hand, leaving responder guessing often where he should play the hand. We shall address that point too.
The key is to have some extra weak bids, and to realise that there are only a certain number of different hands that the reverser can have. Thus, when it starts 1-1-2, 2 and 2NT are weak and natural, with 2 being weak with a minor, or fourth suit forcing. Three level bids are natural and game forcing (for example, 3 would show 5-5 majors, as it is hardly worth showing a four card heart suit). After 1-1-2-2 opener bids naturally, with 2 showing three card support. (With two spades opener will usually have an alternative bid, with six clubs or a hand suitable for a NT bid.) This enables you to play in 2 or 3, depending on the better fit, avoiding playing a level higher unnecessarily. (For example, xxx x AQJx AKQxx opposite Kxxxx Jx 10xx J10x would bid 1-1-2-2-2-P, whereas if 2 is bid on all hands, responder would now convert the top spot of 2 into 3, an altogether shakier contract.) There is plenty of room for showing stronger hands with good spade suits, so it is little loss not to be able to bid 2 on stronger hands.
The other three reverse sequences work on broadly similar principles. 1-1-2 and 1-1-2 are pretty much as before, with 2NT being all the weak hands. 1-1-2 has 2 and 2NT as weak, and 2 as weak with a minor or fourth suit forcing.
This is a story from a couple of years back which makes an interesting parallel with the article which featured as number one in this series. It took place in the regular Friday Butler at a London club quite close to Olympia, and, once again features a set of three deals which, taken together, constitute an event which is totally unique in my experience. Indeed, I should not be surprised to learn that it has never happened to anyone before, and I am prepared to wager quite heavily that it will be an extremely long time before it happens to me again. The solution to the mystery is here.
The action started on the first deal that we played:
The auction started quietly enough:
(a) I am aware that some readers will have assumed that my pass was a misprint! As it was my first action of the evening, perhaps they will be charitable, and assume that I had not yet warmed up!
(b) 3 might be better. But I couldn't face the possibility of partner's caustic comments if we missed a vulnerable game on the very first board! Some players I know would have used Blackwood!
(c) Nothing to add, obviously.
(d) Personally I think that North's double was correct, but the analysis below may persuade you that it ain't necessarily so.
The first thing that the hand illustrates very neatly is the proposition that you can not expect to do the correct thing over aggressive pre-empting every time. As it was, N/S took a small loss by settling for 800 as against the 980 that they could have made in 6. But suppose that South had held A1087, giving East KQJ instead of her actual holding. In that case, I do not suppose that the auction would necessarily have been any different, but 6 would still have gone for only 800, with N/S cold for a grand. (Admittedly North would have some uneasy moments after a club lead, but as the cards lie, either plausible line of play would prove successful.) And, interestingly, the LTT (the Law of Total Tricks (ed.)) does not seem to be of any real help to North here. Suppose (s)he assumes, tentatively, a 7-2 fit in spades, and that E/W have a 5-5 fit in hearts. In that case, there should be 19 tricks available (not allowing for any "adjustments" to the crude count, since I do not profess to understand them; indeed, most of my partners claim that I don't even understand the basic Law anyway!). So, according to the Law, if N/S can make seven, E/W should be going for 1400 in 5, while if they can make only six, the penalty should be 1100. In either case, double looks like the best option, given that the numbers are at best imprecise. The problem on the actual hand, of course, is that while N/S have the postulated 7-2 fit, the E/W heart fit is actually 7-5, supposedly making 21 total tricks available. If North had known that, he might have been inclined to bid on on the actual deal. But suppose that we alter the cards in the club suit in the way that I suggested previously, making the full deal as follows:
Now there are still 21 tricks available, and N/S have 13 of them. Certainly E/W can only take eight tricks against competent defence, and from that point of view the Law seems to be working out satisfactorily. But the fact nevertheless remains that North has an impossible problem. If the cards are as originally dealt, (s)he clearly does better on the balance of probabilities to double; if they are as I have reconstructed them, then (s)he will take a quite substantial loss if (s)he fails to bid the grand. I am not sure whether it is appropriate to draw any firm conclusions other than the fact that this is an infinitely fascinating game!
[And there's much room for differences of opinion! I think it's clear for North to bid 5 - opponents aren't lunatics and have bid 5 unfavourable, and our 4 was a reluctant underbid. Having said which, E/W have clearly overbid. Note that the second version of this hand is a `5 or 7 hand' - it's unlikely that exactly 12 tricks will be made. (JM)]
Anyway, as it happened, the datum for the board was +855 to N-S, and so we gained a couple of IMPs for conceding 800.
A couple of rounds later, having inadvertently swapped positions so that I was now East, we hit the following:
The auction proceeded:
(a) I could not open a weak NT because (i) I don't play it, (ii) even if I did, I would not do so with a losing doubleton and a good alternative, (iii) even if I did I would not dream of doing so vulnerable at IMPs, and (iv) if I had, it would have spoiled the story! Some readers will no doubt quarrel with the first three reasons, but the fourth is conclusive, and anyway, it's my article, so I shall bid in it as I please!
(b) We did not have any fancy manoeuvres available to handle this position. In my opinion, even if we had, West's treatment is as good as anything. If the 1 bid does not provoke East into action over 4, then there is unlikely to be a slam.
There was nothing to the play of the hand. South led 9, which I neglected to cover, winning with the Ace in order to discard dummy's diamond on the second round of clubs. Thereafter, wriggle as I might, I was unable to avoid the loss of two spades, though it must be conceded that I certainly had an abundance of squeeze cards! This time the datum score was 280 to E-W, and so we gained 9 IMPs for making 650. I can only assume that some E/W pairs failed to bid the game and that some let N-S off for 300 in 5 doubled by failing to find their club ruff. Or perhaps, having taken the ruff, West failed to cover either or both of the high spades when they were led from dummy, allowing North to lose just one trick in the suit.
[Note that if North eliminates the side suits and leads the 9 to the 10 and J, then East must duck to avoid being endplayed. (ed)]
And finally there was:
A lively auction ensued:
(a) Our style in competitive situations is to limit the hand via a double unless quite strong. This could be regarded as an extreme example! But the bid does have the advantage of showing spades and implying heart tolerance, which is what West has, more or less.
(b) North is a well-known and much-loved joker.
(c) Perhaps slightly aggressive. But if I don't bid spades now the suit will surely get lost.
(d) Trusting soul! And rightly so, for North would have made all 13 tricks without raising a sweat if I had led a major suit without starting with an Ace!
(e) Values in reserve! Alternatively a well-judged sacrifice!
(f) Possibly inconsistent with his previous bidding, which would seem to call for a confident 4NT after his partner's raise! But at least it is a making contract...
(g) ...as is established beyond peradventure by the fact that I doubled it!
(h) No redouble because the 550 she is about to score beats the 500 she can get from 5X. But if she is not going to double 5 anyway, it is not so clear that it is wrong to redouble 5. My conclusion? No balls!
[I'd have said all the more reason not to redouble if you can't double 5! (JM)]
(j) By now totally unsure as to who can make what. But what a coup it would have been to bid and make 5NT (doubled possibly!). My conclusion? No flair!
(k) At last, an easy bid!
(l) Also totally unsure as to who can make what. But I think that double must be right. At worst she will concede an extra 200 as we surely don't have enough to redouble. At best it might be four or five off. The odds are clearly with a double. My conclusion? Neither balls nor flair!
There was nothing to the play of this hand either. I quickly conceded four tricks without the option in the minor suits, and was then favoured with a heart lead into the AQ. After taking two top hearts, I entered dummy with a heart ruff in order to finesse against the "marked" K. But South produced that card, and I was forced to concede 150, which of course was quite satisfactory, although the datum was only 200 to N/S, so that we gained a paltry 2 IMPs for -150. But it is in fact quite difficult for N/S to find their way to one of their making games with just 21 HCP.
Well there you are. You have all the clues. What was it that was unique about our experience that night? (Answer here.)
Bridge is all about counting the cards, and this article aims to give an introduction to the basics, then to discuss the matter a little more deeply.
Standard count refers to the way you follow suit. Many people play that a high card followed by a low card (a peter) shows an even number of cards in that suit. It doesn't tell you whether he has two or four, but it does tell you he hasn't three, and that may be vital to the defence.
Whilst most people are familiar with following suit to show count, it can also be applied when returning a suit. If you have A95 in the suit, win the ace, then play the nine to show an even number left, or with A952, return the 2 to show an odd number of cards left in the suit. (Strangely enough, with A9542 it is standard to return the 4, though the theoretical basis for this has always eluded me.)
Similarly, standard leads are to play fourth highest from an honour, and second highest from a weak suit (no honour card - the ten you can treat as an honour or not depending on your mood!). Thus with 984 you would lead the eight, and then play the nine to show an even number left, or with 9842, the eight and then the two to show an odd number left. Technically you might like to take this last suit to the extreme case, playing the eight as second highest lead, then the 2 to show an odd number left, then the nine to show an even number left, and finally the 4. If partner hasn't worked out your count by this time, he never will! (And for this reason, many people would use the 9 and the 4 for suit preference purposes - but that will have to wait until another article.)
Which cards to play: We described count signals slightly incorrectly - more accurate would be to say that playing a higher card shows an even number left, and a lower card an odd number left. There are two points I am making here: (a) There are no high and low cards - it depends what your holding is. For example, with 432 the 4 is a higher card, whilst with 1098, the eight is a lower card. (b) The aim is for the first card to tell partner the count - not for him to have to wait for the second. This is important partly because it is often vital to need to know the count straight away, but also to make life easy for partner. If you have 9632 don't play the three, knowing that you can follow up with the 2; play the nine or six to make it more clear.
This brings us onto an important point. Generally to show count you should play the highest or lowest that you can afford. However, with four cards there are two theories. Some people like to play the highest that they can afford, whilst others prefer to always play the second highest, on the basis that you often cannot afford the highest, so it is better to be consistent about it. (And with some partners I play second highest unless the top two are touching, when we play the highest if it is a ten or above.) However, a vital part of this is that you can afford it - with J932 you may well have to play the three. (Though note that with J632 you would play the six.) With doubletons, you should play the high card if it is a jack or below, but not with the queen. Again sometimes you should exercise discretion with a jack too, whilst you should never play the queen as this indicates either the jack or a singleton.
Combining count and attitude: This is not the place for a discussion of attitude signals, but generally if you play attitude instead of count, where a high card shows that you like the suit, you should use the same principles as you did for count. In addition, when making subsequent plays in the suit they should still be count signals. Thus with 9832, and playing attitude signals, you should follow to partner's ace with the two, and then follow up with the three to show an odd number of cards left. Do not play the three first, hoping to discourage, and then follow with the two later to give the count, as this shows that you like the suit!
Count and attitude (or reversed if you fancy) are the two almost universal ways of following suit. Attitude tends to be preferred more by top partnerships, whilst count is much easier to play, and preferred by many for simplicity (it is easy to count the number of cards you have in a suit!). Ideally, a combination should be used, but that makes life even trickier. But don't try to give both at once - signals can be hard enough to read as it is, without trying to convey your whole hand with some incredibly refined methods!
In the Eastern Counties League against Essex, the A-team won 8-4, the B team 10-2, and the C team lost 3-9. Against Norfolk the A team lost 1-11, the B team 2-10, and the C team 6-6.
In the Tollemache Qualifying Round the county continued its current poor run, coming 3rd, missing out by 2 VPs from qualifying for the final!
The Newmarket Swiss Teams was won by David and Liz Kendrick, with Peter and Myra Burrows, followed by Curtin, Turner, Shawdon and Pal.
Nationally, our top placing at the Bournemouth EBU Autumn Congress was John Young, coming sixth, with David Kendrick winning the satellite final.
Catherine Jagger came 4th in the Women's Pre-trial, and is lying second after one weekend of the second stage. She also made the semi-final of the National Women's Teams.
In the preliminary round of the County Knockout, PATTENDEN bt JUDE, HAMILTON bt KENNEY, GREIG bt MAN, COPPING bt ELSTEIN, JONES bt MAY, HOWARD bt DE SOUZA. In the first round, HAMILTON bt RILEY, WOODRUFF bt JACOBSBERG, GREIG bt COPPING, LARLHAM bt JONES, WRAIGHT bt LAST, JAGGER bt HOWARD, ZAKRZEWSKI bt PAL
Around the Clubs:
The Thursday Club: is now back at Adrian House and able to welcome visitors once more. The new secretary is Michael Soames, tel: 01223 880011. It also has a web site - http://www.geocities.com/thursdaybridge/. Results for 2000 include the President's Shield, won by B.Copping, the St John Trophy, won by J.Caldwell, K.Smith; the MacKenzie Trophy, won by A.Gerloch, J.Townsend, the Swan Shield, won by B.Copping, M.Tedham; the Fry Teams of Four Trophy, won by J.Hart, T.Shaw, R.Mattick, E.Habib; the Unusual Partner Pairs, won by D.Marrian, R.Bissett; the Orchard Pairs, won by S. and K.Barker; and the Ladder Competition, won by G.Gittins.
Bidding ChallengeThe hand near the top of the newsletter was:
So where do you want to play? The most likely resting place is 3NT, but that will be at least one down on a heart lead. (If declarer ducks twice the defence switch to spades). Five of a minor has too many losers, 4 is ridiculous, while 4 has 3 trump losers before we get going.... but look again - in 4, on say a trump lead, declarer wins, plays A and ruff a heart, club to dummy and ruffs another heart. Two more clubs ending in dummy and declarer exits with a trump. The position is:
If, say, West cashes one trump and exits with a diamond, North leads the last club.
As an original diamond lead from East would be fatal, the only making game is 4 by South. But how on earth do you get there?
Dates for your diary:
|28 Jan 2001||County Individual Final|
|4 Feb 2001||County Pairs Final|
|11 Feb 2001||ECL v Northants (H)|
|25 Feb 2001||ECL v University (A)|
|1 Apr 2001||Swiss Teams Club Challenge|
|10 Jun 2001||Jubilee Swiss Pairs|
The Nicko 1999-2000
The National Inter Club Knockout began back in the depths of recent history, with the first winners being the Cambridge Club, as reported in the second ever issue of this newsletter. The local press generously described it as the International Club Knockout! In its tenth year, and having been through about ten different names, it is back to being called the Nicko, and the Cambridge Club have won again, with a completely different squad from that of the previous success.
It always seems like a strange competition, with something close to a thousand rounds (officially only nine), with the unusual feature that the standard of the opposition seems to be totally independent of the round you are in, and usually we get through what feels like hundreds of rounds only to be beaten by some team we really shouldn't have lost to. The first round they send us to Nottingham, the second to the wilds of Norfolk, and by then we begin to wonder if it really is a regional draw, and whether home draws are only for the opposition!
This year all went smoothly and, on making the quarter finals, found ourselves AT HOME, against some team of no-hopers - Hackett, Hackett, Hackett, Mould and Cornelius. They started off negotiations by trying our tactics - offering nothing but one invalid date - which fortunately we could make.
The plan with these teams of five, where one is sponsoring the rest, is that the sponsor plays his sixteen boards, enough to secure his green points should they win, and then goes home (metaphorically in this case, as they came in one car from Manchester). Bitter experience tells me that usually they are leading after the sixteen boards, and this match was no exception. (Actually, against us everybody always leads until we get some food inside us!)
The critical board was just round the corner:
4 went 3 down for 1100, a result duplicated exactly in the other room, but played by SOUTH! A casual enquiry established that teammates had bid the board the wrong way round, and we sat in dejection at the fouling of the board. Alan Mould came in and joked `25 IMPs to you, unless you'll accept that the board was fouled'. A closer examination revealed that it had not been - the auction having been:
["Not a curious hand," said Oscar the Owl. "Neither side can make 4!" (JM)]
With 22 IMPs this board, there was no recovery from this, and we eased into the semifinals, to meet a team clearly well past it - Rowlands, Lee, Lunn and O'Neil, from Surrey. This proved to be a surprisingly decisive encounter. My only particular memory of the match being slipping a contract through against Bob Rowlands - Bob never stops grumbling, even during the play, and when at trick seven he realised what had happened it turned into almost a thunderstorm. `It wouldn't be the same without Bob grumbling' I commented, getting a smile even from Bob, before he returned the compliment with interest!
The final was on paper an easier encounter, and after the first board it felt even more secure:
Uncontested we had the economical auction: 2-2; 2-2; 2NT-3; 3-3; 4-4NT; 5-7.
The 2 bid was either natural, or 25+ balanced, and 2 asked which. Then 3 was five card Stayman, with the 3 bid showing hearts and denying spades. 4 showed a concentration of values, and the 5 response showed 2 or 5 of the key `aces', without the queen. The next bid was easy. The surprise was that opponents bid 2-2; 3NT-P.
We were always comfortably up, but then in the second last set they bid two very thin games which happened to be making, and the last set there were a couple of tricky auctions for our teammates. The more interesting was KJ3 4 AK9853 K64 opposite AQ104 AQJ 64 AJ103. Opponents counted their points and bid 6NT - Ed and John had a more sophisticated but less successful auction starting
1-1; 2-3; 4
It's hard to argue too much with this bidding - 3 showed either a fifth spade or a very strong hand (how else could John bid this hand?). Meanwhile, thinking partner was likely to have a fifth spade, and reckoning the diamond source of tricks would be very useful, Ed reasonably jumped to 4. Thereafter they quickly progressed to 7 - actually a quite respectable contract, but not a making one on this occasion. [Not Very respectable. (JM)]
When the dust had settled we were 6 IMPs up. And the only thing that remained was to avoid going out of the first round of the Nicko the following year!
Solution to Peter Burrows' detective problem
The answer is that West was able three times to table 7-card support for partner's bid suit! Because we inadvertently changed seats it was actually I who tabled the first dummy, and admittedly the third example is slightly un-real as I had in effect supported partner's suit. But had my partner sat West throughout, as she normally does, she would have put down 7 trumps for me on three boards out of 24! I'm starting to understand why she complains that I always hog "her hands".