Sunday, July 26, 2009

A botched defense

Are there any bridge players out there who read my posts? If so, I've got a mind-blower for you.

The auction went 1H by South (dealer) - 1NT O/C by my partner (15-18hcp, "Systems On") - Pass by RHO - 2C by me (Stayman, artificial & conventional) - Pass by LHO - 2D by partner (denying a 4-card major) - Pass by RHO - 3C by me.

That's not the end of the auction, but I want to stop it right there to ask you a question or two. Ready for them? Here they are ... ... How many black cards do I have in my hand? How many red cards? (Keep in mind now, when playing the game of bridge, that each player holds only 13 cards altogether.)

What were your answers? You need to know that my 2C Stayman bid specifically asked partner if he had a 4-card major (major suits are hearts and spades). No way I might be interested in hearing about whether or not he had four hearts - not when LHO already opened 1H, indicating a 5-card heart suit!

I want y'all to think about these questions for just a little bit more before you continue reading. Will you do that?


All right. Time's up. The first question was, "How many black cards do I have in my hand?" Well, you have to first realize that I must have at least four spades ... elsewise, I would never have used Stayman! Make sense?

Then, what did I do after partner rebid 2D? I bid clubs freely at the three-level!! Now, I knew that partner had two clubs for his NT overcall. How did I know that? Notrump bids promise balanced hands - at least two cards in every suit - so I know that, if I bid the club suit at the three-level, we have an 8-card ("magic") fit. How many clubs must I have to know that?

[You can only take what is "known" ... forget imaginative wanderings in a competitive auction such as this one at the duplicate bridge table!]

Geez, I hope your answer was '6' to the previous question! Was it? (You get an "A".) And so, how many black cards am I known to have - minimum? (10 ... four spades and six clubs) How many red cards - maximum? (3 ... just subtract 10 from 13)


OK. Let's continue now with the auction. Are you with me so far? Good!

LHO passes, partner passes and RHO (in the balancing & passout position, with three hearts to the ten) chimes in with a 3H raise of partner's suit!!?!! I double, all pass.

Partner leads one of his top diamond cards (the Ace or King, I forget which) - a really good lead! The dummy hits the table with three diamonds to the Queen (all other of dummy's cards are really immaterial for purposes of this discussion). Declarer calls for a low diamond from dummy and I play my lone three spot.

Partner views my low diamond as a discouraging card - immediately forgetting (I guess!) the bidding and what my hand must look like because of how the auction went - and discontinues the suit!!!??!!!

The very sad upshot of this whole long story is that South made three hearts doubled, for a score of +530 for them. We should have been +500! Ye gods!! (If partner continues cashing his other high diamond and then gives me a low ruff at trick three, I can get to his hand in one of the black suits and he should stay on the attack with another diamond! I will overruff the dummy with my remaining heart, the Queen ... down three, doubled, for all of the matchpoints instead of almost none!!

Well, that's it for very early on Sunday morning, July 26th. I've let it all hang out. Maybe I can finally get some sleep! (Tried the sleep act a couple of times already tonight, but kept tossing and turning. If I hit "Publish Post", might that be the answer? Sure hope so!)

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