torstai 6. joulukuuta 2018


What could be a better place to update our blog, after the sunset sitting on my 18th floor balcony and sipping Californian Pinot Grigio, outside temperature being well over 20 degrees. Our results were not too good this time, earning only 70 masterpoints. In the first two-day knock-out teams we lost the very first match against the team captained by Jim Mahaffey. After the following deal things were looking quite bright, still.
I wasn’t too happy to bid 3NT with my modest values, but what else? After the double I was considering escaping to four diamonds, because Joris van Lankveld was maybe doubling with a running heart suit. After the lead of the King of hearts I thought I made a big mistake not to escape, but to my big relief Vesa was tabling down a very suitable dummy. Specially the nine of hearts gave me good hopes to make my doubled contract. I ducked the lead and West continued with the Queen of hearts, which I ducked as well. If East has been disciplined with his pre-empt, West must have spade void and all the outstanding defensive strength, including four cards in diamonds. Therefore, I can’t take any high diamond from dummy, but run the Jack of diamonds from my hand at first opportunity. But how to cross to my hand? Not with a spade, because if East has anyway the Queen of diamonds, I’ll go down a lot. West is thinking a long time before making the switch to the third trick and I’m hoping to see a club to have an easy entry to my hand for the diamond finesse, but he surprises me with the King of spades. So, East was not so disciplined with his overcall! I’m letting West to win the third trick as well and next he’s continuing with a low diamond. I play low from dummy, East follows with the nine and I win the trick with the Jack. The rest is easy. I know that Lankveld must have the King of clubs for his double, so when I’m running my diamonds I just have to follow if he is discarding any heart from his hand. He is, and after the major suit Aces I’m endplaying him with a heart and he has to give me the two last tricks with AQ of clubs. Nine IMPs for our side when our opponents are staying in a diamond partscore at the other table. 

One of the main events was the three-day Keohane North American Swiss in the last weekend. We just survive the qualification for the second day, but the last match against a Chinese team on Saturday is a nightmare, so we are kicked out from the final. How would you play the following no trump game?

Mike Passell starts with the eight of hearts and Marc Jacobus plays the Queen. It’s surely correct move to duck the first trick and Jacobus continues with the Ace and a third round Passell discarding a club. What next?
The club discard is not from a four card suit. Either West has a five card club suit or 4-2-4-3 distribution. If Jacobus has 2-6-4-1, all I have to do is to establish my spade suit. But without cashing my top clubs too early. But if East has 3-6-3-1, I have to cash my top clubs first to force some discards from him. If he has QJx in diamonds, I’m making the contract. He has to keep his diamonds, so whatever his discards are in the major suits, I’ll follow with three rounds of spades and claim nine tricks. The whole hand:
I cashed my top clubs and the contract was impossible to make after that. I did have all the sevens in other suits, but why not in clubs! Otherwise I still could survive unblocking dummy’s high clubs and endplaying West with a spade. After the board Melih was teaching me that of course I should play the spades without touching the clubs. The club discard was of course from five card suit. Melih was right in this aspect, that if West has only three clubs, he has surely four cards in spades and it’s safe to continue with three rounds of spades. With 3-2-5-3 his first discard is surely a diamond. But there’s no point of arguing with a player who knows everything about everything, especially when he sees all the four hands!
Melih is not the best partner or teammate, but he is a very good player, as the following board witnesses.

I started with the two top diamonds and then shifted to a low club. O’Rourke, the sponsor of a strong team, won the club continuation in her hand, proceeded with a heart to dummy’s King and had to lose two more heart tricks in the end for one down. Melih got the same start, but after the bad news in the fourth trick he realised that in order to make his contract he needed to find South with 2-4-4-3 distribution. So, diamond ruff, club to the King, another diamond ruff, club ruff and then three rounds of spades. South had to ruff his partner’s high spade and play a trump to declarer’s  AJ-tenace.
Finally one more board to prove, that it’s so easy to blame your partner or teammates after seeing all the four hands in the end. I had QJ AKJ J95 AK875, all vul I open one club as a dealer. Partner responds one spade and I jump to two no-trumps showing 18-19 balanced hand. Partner bids three diamonds to show at least a mild slam interest with 5-4 distribution. Without any problem yet, I’m bidding three no-trumps, but partner is continuing with four diamonds. What next?

Pointwise I have maximum and my spade quacks are working very well for sure, but then again, I have only four points in partner’s suits and surely some wastage in hearts and clubs, so I decide to bid negative four no trumps which is ending the auction.

Wrong decision! I was very right not to think about a diamond slam, but six no-trumps was a very good contract. Most often North is not leading a diamond, so I can first test the clubs, and if that suit is not breaking 4-3, the heart finesse must work. On the way to our last dinner Melih was blaming me for the lost opportunity. Of course I should have upgraded my spade holding and bid five no-trump for a pick a slam. My modest proposals, that partner might have AK10xx Qx Axxxx x, in which case eleven tricks in any contract would be maximum, were not accepted. Should Vesa continue with five no trumps over my four no trumps? A close decision. All he knows from my hand is 18-19 with either 2-3-3-5 or 2-4-3-4 distribution without too many honours in his suits. The Queen of clubs is of course very valuable, but if I have something like Qx AKJx Jxx AKxx, six no trumps is well below 50% contract. And if QJ AKQJ Jxx Axxx our Mr Besserwisser would have blamed us not to find the only slam that makes, six hearts (if opponent’s hearts break 4-3)!       

tiistai 27. marraskuuta 2018

Bridgeä Hawaijin auringossa!

Tervehdys!

Blogin päivittäminen on jäänyt hieman myöhäiseksi, sillä auringosta nauttiminen sekä muut aktiviteetit pelien ohessa ovat vieneet huomiomme. Nyt kuitenkin tilannepäivitystä vuoden 2018 Amerikan mestaruuskilpailuista, Hawaijin Honolulusta.

Vuoden 2018 pelipaikkana on jopa paratiisisaareksi noteerattu Hawaijin suurin kaupunki Honolulu. Hienoista rannoistaan, taatusta auringosta ja lämmöstä tunnettu saarirykelmä Tyynellä valtamerellä. Kaikkiaan Hawaiji koostuu useasta eri saaresta. Suurimpia saaria on kaikkiaan kahdeksan, joista Honolulu sijaitsee Oahun saarella. Oahu alkaa jo olla todellinen turistirysä, josta löytyy kaikki palvelut, ravintolat ja shoppailumahdollisuudet. Hintataso on saarella korkea, mikä ei ole yllätys turistikohteelle.

Hilton Hawaiji Village, Honolulu


Aikaero Suomeen on saarelta peräti 12 tuntia. Sopeutuaksemme aikaeroon sekä ehtiäksemme nähdä saarta myös turismin merkeissä saavuimme paikan päälle muutama päivä etukäteen. Hienoimpia retkiä, mitä ehdimme tehdä ensimmäisinä päivinä, oli matka toiselle saarelle, "The Big Islandille". Saari on nimensä mukaisesti suurin Hawaijin saarista, ja se on eteläisin saariryhmästä. Saari saattaa olla osalle tuttu keväältä, kun myös Suomessa uutisoitiin tulivuoren purkauksesta, joka tapahtui juuri kyseisellä saarella. Kuitenkin uutisointi oli draamaattisuudessaan ainakin mielestäni harhaanjohtavaa. Itse sain käsityksen, että kyseessä oli suurempikin katastrofi, vaikka todellisuudessa tulivuoren purkaus vaikutti vain pieneen osaan saaresta.  Purkaus on osoitus siitä, että Hawaiji kasvaa edelleen tulivuoritoiminnan ansiosta. Alun alkaenkin saaret ovat syntyneet tulivuorten purkausten seurauksena vuosisatojen aikana. "The Big Islandin" luontoa pääsimme ihailemaan helikopteriajaelulla.

Tällä ajeltiin.

Tulivuoren kraateri näyttää ilmasta katsottuna tältä.

Laava tuhoaa kasvillisuuden vain suorassa kontaktissa siihen.


Matkalaiset kraaterin edessä.
Vesiputouksiakin The Big Islandilta löytyi.
Kahden päivän aikana ehdimme näkemään todella paljon. Vuokraamalla auton pystyi kiertämään koko saaren yhden päivän aikana, jolloin koki paikan luonnon monimuotoisuuden. Saaren itäpuolella ilmasto oli todella kosteaa ja sateista, jolloin luontokin muistutti sademetsää. Länsipuoli oli täysin erilainen: ilmasto oli kuiva ja kuuma, jolloin luonto vaikutti enemmän preerialta. Lämpötila eri puolilla vaihteli jopa 10 asteella, vaikka matkassa mitattuna ei kuljettu edes 100 km!

Kyllä kelpaa!


Matkapäivien jälkeen pelit ovat alkaneet. Ensimmäinen kunnon menestys tuli, kun voitimme sunnuntaina päättyneen kaksipäiväisen joukkuekilpailun. Tulokset kisasta löytyvät täältä:
http://live.acbl.org/event/NABC183/242A/2/results

Peliohjelmamme tulee olemaan tutunlainen. Pelaamme pääsääntöisesti kaksipäiväisiä joukkiksia ennen perjantaista sunnuntaihin kestävää suurta swiss-joukkuekilpailua.

Yksi jako voittoisan kilpailumme alkukierroksilta:

Nosto 4S oli kovennettu tarjous toivoen vankasti, ettei partnerilla olisi turhia arvoja ruudussa. Toive osuu oikeaan, mutta silti sitoumuksessa on tekemistä - varsinkin, kun ensimmäiselle valttikierrokselle itä sakaa risin. Korttien on istuttava suosiollisesti tämän alun jälkeen, jotta kotipelistä voisi edes haaveilla. Vähintään valttimenevä, herttamenevä ja ruutumenevä vaikuttaa olevan... Mikä on pelinvientisuunnitelma?

Yksi mahdollisuus olisi heti pelata pieni ruutu kädestä, jotta voisi aloittaa ruutujen kuppaamisen käteen lyhtentääkseen valttia. Tällöin kuitenkaan ei saa mitään indikaatiota vastustajan ruutukuvien jakautumisesta hertta-arvausta varten. Tämän takia päätänkin ottaa ensiksi ristimaskin (joka onnistuu) ja pelata ruutua pöydästä. Kun itä ei tunnusta kuvalla ensimmäiselle ruutukierrokselle, vaan pelaa ruutukakkosen, voidaan hyvin todennäköisesti sijoittaa lännelle kaksi isoa ruutukuvaa. Muuten itä olisi luultavasti pelannut jonkun ruutukuvan väliin, sillä hän ei voi tietää pelinviejällä olevan vain pikkusingelin. Tämän seurauksena herttaässä vaikuttaa olevan idällä, joten hertta-arvaus on pelattava sotamiehelle. Kuitenkin kaksi herttamenevää on minulle jäämässä, joten ainoa kotipelimahdollisuus vaikuttaa olevan valtinlyhentäminen kuppaamalla ruutuja käteen toivoen lännelle 4-2-4-3 jakautumaa.

Länsi jatkaa ristiä pöydän ässälle ollessaan ruudulla kiinni. Varastan ruudun käteen, pelaan herttaa sotamiehelle idän voittaessa tikin ässällä. Ristijatko varastetaan pöytään, ruutuvarkaus käteen ja herttakuninkaalla pöytään varastaen viimeinen ruutu viimeisellä pikku valtilla. Käden isot padat tuovat kotipelin. Siis kuusi patatikkiä käteen, yksi herttatikki, kaksi ristitikkiä ja yksi ristivarkaus pöytään tuovat kotipelin. Länsi on täysin voimaton. Koko jako näytti seuraavalta:

Joskus kortit istuvat juuri siten, miten toivoo!

sunnuntai 5. elokuuta 2018

Boards from the Roth Open Swiss


The last big event of these Nationals is the Roth Swiss teams. 131 teams are on the starting list on Friday, 66 teams will qualify for the Saturday and 36 for the final on Sunday. The first day is acceptable for us, finishing 39 and qualifying for the second day. On Saturday we lose the first match slightly against Patricia Cayne´s team. In the second match we have strong opponents again, Kit Woolsey, Bart Bramley, Steve Robinson and Peter Boyd. The first five boards we are doing well, leading with 12-2. After the sixth board we are not in the lead anymore.



My six diamond bid was not a good choice. Not just because my clubs are so much better than diamonds. But if I bid six clubs and Boyd happens to have a diamond void and doubles, I can run to six diamonds. My bad choice was severely punished, when Boyd made the Lightner double, Robinson duly led a club and the defence got their two ruffs and the Ace of hearts, two down and -500. At the other table West opened one strong club and East was bidding one no-trump showing clubs. Sadik was pre-empting with three hearts, West splintered four hearts, Melih supporting with five hearts and East was ending the bidding with six clubs. Easy twelve tricks, 1370 and losing 19 IMPs. Somebody should have sacrificed against this slam, six hearts going only two down.

Later when discussing about the board with our opponents, Robinson told me that he would have sacrificed against six in a minor, if partner is not doubling.

If I would have bid six clubs, Boyd told me that he would double that contract as well! This psychic Lightner would have worked nicely as well. Being certain that South has a diamond void, I would run to six diamonds. South is doubling again and it shouldn´t be too difficult for Robinson to find the correct opening lead.

In the third match we have some easier opponents, but still we lose again. Despite the following nice three no-trump hand.



Hudson started with the seven of spades to the East´s nine and the Vesa´s Queen. What would be your line of the play?

If diamonds are 3-3, there´s no problem. But if they are 4-2, you have to establish the suit for the eights trick. But then there is no chance to try to establish for the ninth trick, because defenders will cash out four spades for one down. You should know that the defender´s spades are 5-2 and not 6-1, because East didn´t open the bidding with a weak two in spades. From the bidding you should know that west might have the most stopper’s in the remaining suits. The key play is to try to cut the defender’s communications. By playing another spade West might feel the pressure to keep stoppers in the remaining suits when East is cashing his spade winners. It is no good for East not to cash his spades as he has no entry to his long suit after the second round of spades. In the actual board West could not find a discard for the fifth spade. East squeezes his partner in three suits. The whole board was:


Actually, in the ending declarer needs to guess if West started with CKxx or CJxx if West discards one heart and two clubs for the spades. In the actual play West did not discard two clubs so the play was easier.

At the other table 3NT went -1 after a heart lead and a nice 10 imp win. Unfortunately, the rest of the Saturday games did not go that well. We did not qualifie to the final day so we need to play one session Swiss event on Sunday. The results can be found:

   

lauantai 4. elokuuta 2018

Boards from Monday - Wednesday games.


The two-day knock-out teams starting on Monday has always quite an easy field. All the ambitious teams are starting the main event, in the Summer Nationals the Spingold, so we go easily thru the two matches of the first day. In the semi-final on Tuesday it was not so easy anymore. We start well, however, scoring 10 IMPs in the very first board.



My two heart bid showed a five card suit including at least three of the five highest cards. I was planning to bid four diamonds, if Vesa would bid three no-trumps, showing nicely my distribution. But after four diamonds I couldn´t find a scientific approach anymore. 

Radu Nistor, a Romanian born pro from NYC, started with the King of spades. Vesa took the trick with the Ace and played back another spade, two, Jack and a ruff with D8. Vesa took the diamond 9 continuation with the Ace, followed by club Ace and a club ruff. Spade ruff to hand, club ruff with dummy´s last trump and another spade ruff. When Vesa was running all his trumps, West was keeping her King of clubs and had to discard three hearts, leaving only a singleton heart in her hand. The moment of truth was now reached.

Vesa made the right decision not to play for a squeeze, but simply took the heart finesse for twelve tricks. Why? Because West was the client of the team, an average standard player, who would be showing her suffering, when the last trump was played. Against a top class defender the choice would be much more difficult, specially if the last discard would be the Jack of hearts. The whole board:



The rest of the match is not going our way, losing the match with 45-63. Melih decides not to play the one session Swiss teams in the afternoon, so we are enjoying our free evening with some movies at our apartment.

On Wednesday we started another two-day knock-out team tournament. The first match is an easy win against surprisingly weak local team. But seeding for the next round can´t be worse for us, we have to play against French open team captained by Paul Street. The first half is bad, and we are down 14-41 at the halfway. In the first boards of the second half the gap is closing with some IMPs, but after the next board is was all over. All red, Vesa opens 14+-17 no trump, RHO doubles showing points and I have 7, QJ75, AKJ86, 964. I redouble, showing strength, expecting opponents to run into a spade contract, and then wondering can I pass if partner doubles. Nobody is running anywhere, however, and at the same time I’m hopeful but very worried as well. The opening lead is the King of spades.



East makes his five spade tricks plus two Aces, one down and -400. Not a great result, five diamonds being a laydown contract. At the other table Melih and Sadik are ending up in four spades doubled. Cedric Lorenzini makes no mistake of “looking at the table” with the Ace of diamonds. After that opening lead we would have won the board with nine IMPs! Instead he leads a trump and after the second round of trumps the contract goes two down, -500 and 14 IMPs to the French team.

Later we had some discussion about my redouble. Much safer action would be to show a strong distributional hand with two no-trumps. But on the other hand, Vesa might have a good four card or any five card spade suit, and then we could kill the opponents in any contract. And only five boards left, knowing that you are about 20 IMPs down, some desperate actions are in order! The results: http://live.acbl.org/event/NABC182/302A/2/summary

http://live.acbl.org/event/NABC182/012A/2/summary

torstai 2. elokuuta 2018

Some boards from the Sunday swiss


On Sunday we played a one-day Swiss team tournament. An easy start against Canadian Juniors (20/0) was followed by not so easy continuation against the French open team, captained by Paul Street (7/13). Third match we are winning slightly and in the fourth round we are playing against our Icelandic friend Svenni Eiriksson.


Vesa starts with the three of diamonds (3/5), dummy plays low and declarer is winning my eight with the ten. Next declarer cashes the Ace of clubs, Jack, eight and two. Then he continues with a small club to the ten, partner discarding an encouraging five of diamonds. Take it over from here.

It seems quite natural to take the trick with the Queen and continue thru dummy´s weakness with a heart. The only question being, should I show three cards with a switch to the three or should I play the seven, attitude, denying strength in the suit?

But before continuing with any heart, let´s try make some picture of the whole hand. Declarer´s jump to 2NT showed a 18-19 balanced hand. The opening lead tells that partner has the five of diamonds. Vesa must have four hearts as well. With 5-5 in reds he wouldn´t double and if Vesa has three diamonds, declarer would have five and he would have opened one heart. So, partner has 3-4-5-1 and declarer 2-4-2-5. Can partner´s hearts be good enough, that my heart switch could beat the contract?

Not really, only if Vesa has KQ109, we could establish the needed tricks from the heart suit. Is there any other chance?

Yes, if declarer´s spade doubleton is precisely K9. So be it! The whole hand:



I played a low spade and Vesa was winning the King with the Ace. Vesa continued with the Jack to dummy´s Queen and I was so happy to see declarer following with the nine! Later, after cashing the Ace of diamonds, Vesa was able to play a spade and the contract was one down. Declarer didn´t do his best in this board. If he ducks the second round of spades, the contract is unbeatable.

At the other table Melih was playing the same contract from North´s hand. The lead was a low spade to the King and the Ace. Melih ducked the continuation of the Jack of spades and took the third round with the Queen. The ten of clubs ran to West´s Jack and Melih won the continuation of a low diamond. The eight of clubs was covered with the nine and the Ace. West won the diamond continuation with the Ace, but now he was endplayed and had to give an entry to declarer´s hand for the club finesse. Nine tricks, 10 IMPs, the whole match being 19/1 for us, so we went for the lunch break in a good position.

The afternoon session started too badly. Losing two matches against not high-level opponents and we could say goodbye for any end position to be proud of. The 20/0 victory from the last match was a slight comfort.

In this last match I had a very good hand: AQ542, KQJ754, A, K. First hand, all red, I open one heart and partner is bidding three diamonds, which shows 10-12 and four card support. My RHO doubles showing diamonds. What next?

All I need for a grand is the King of spades and the two missing Aces. With RKCB I can find out the number of Aces, but I need some control bidding to find out the possible King of spades. If I control bid now four clubs, partner bids four in the red suit. And what then? I have to ask aces but then it´s not anymore possible to find out the spade control. But what if I redouble three diamonds?

Then partner might bid three spades with the King. So, redouble it is and Vesa starts to think.

At the same time I start to fear for the worst. In some sequences, if opponents are doubling our conventional bid, like Stayman or transfer, redouble shows that suit and willingness to play this contract. What if Vesa thinks I have a good five card diamond suit and passes?

That would the disaster of the decade! To go down about three in diamond partscore, -1600, instead of collecting 2210 from a grand slam in hearts. To my big relief Vesa bids anyway, jumping to four hearts, which I take as minimum. I check the keycards with four no-trumps, Vesa promising two without the trump Queen, and then I invite to grand with five no-trumps. When Vesa is slowing down with six hearts, I decide to settle for a small slam and pass.




South started with a low diamond. How would you proceed?

If North has the King of diamonds, as expected, the contract is almost 100% sure. I won the diamond lead, crossed to the dummy with a heart, both opponents following, and played Queen of diamonds. North covered (didn´t make any difference), I ruffed, unblocked the King of clubs, played a heart to the ten and cashed the Jack of diamonds and the Ace of clubs. A club ruff was followed with the third round of trumps ending dummy. In the four-card ending dummy had 1087 of spades and one heart and I had AQ5 of spades and one trump. North didn´t cover the seven of spades, I played the five and South was endplayed. If North would cover the seven with the Jack or the nine, I just play the Queen and the contract is assured. The whole hand:


At the other table our opponents bid all the way to the grand slam. That contract needs KJ doubleton onside. Lucky us, no miracles and we won 17 IMPs. The results: 

http://live.acbl.org/event/NABC182/29TA/2/summary

http://live.acbl.org/event/NABC182/012A/2/summary



tiistai 31. heinäkuuta 2018

Hyvä alku Atlantan kisoille / Nice start in Atlanta!



Amerikan kesän mestaruuskilpailut ovat alkaneet Atlantassa. Tuttuun tapaan jaoista kirjoitamme englanniksi, mutta muita kuulumisia raportoidaan myös suomeksi. Noin puolitoista viikkoa kovatasoista bridgeä on taas luvassa Atlantin toisella puolella. Tällä kertaa joukkueeseen kuuluvat Justine Cushing, Sadik Arf, Melih Özdil sekä tietysti Kauko ja Vesa. Pelaamme pääsääntöisesti kaksipäiväisiä pudotuspelimuotoisia joukkuekilpailuita. Poikkeuksena pelaamme viimeisinä kolmena päivänä ison Swiss-joukkuekilpailun. 
Suomen helteistä Atlantaan saapuminen ei tarjoa ainakaan helpotusta kuumuudesta kärsiville. Tunnelma on Atlantassa kuin asfalttihelvetissä keskipäivän aikaan lämpöasteiden kivutessa reilusti yli 30. Meillä on aikaa pienelle turistikierrokselle ensimmäisinä päivinä ennen pelien alkamista. Pakenemme kuumuutta sisätiloihin. Valitsemme kohteiksemme lähellä meitä olevat akvaarion ja Coca-Cola-museon. Coca-Cola on lähtöisin Atlantasta, joten heillä on myös museo täällä. Hauskimpina elämyksinä museossa ovat useiden erilaisten hauskojen mainospätkien näkeminen sekä eri tuotteiden maisteleminen. Mainoksia esiteltiin usealta eri aikakaudelta ja ympäri maailmaa, ja osa oli todella hullunkurisen hauskoja. Lisäksi museossa pääsi maistamaan kaikkia erilaisia Coca-Cola-tuotteita ja makuja. Afrikan tuotteiden maut olivat aika eksoottisia suomalaiseen makuun!

Vesa Coca-Cola-museon edessä
Akvaario on aika perusakvaario. Paljon nähtävää isoista kaloista pienempiin kaloihin (mm. maitovalas ja erilaisia haita) ja tietysti myös pingviinejä. Paljon saadaan aikaa kulumaan molemmissa paikoissa, joten turistipäivä kuluu nopeasti. 
Ihmettelemässä akvaariossa
Seuraavana vuorossa on raportointia peleistä englanniksi. Lyhyesti suomeksi todettakoon pelien alkaneen loistavasti. Ensimmäinen kisa sujui tuloksellisesti täydellisesti. Vastassa oli pelkästään ammattilaispelaajien joukkueita. Heidän päihittäminen tuntui erityisen makoisalta. Pelien jälkeen oli kiva ihailla tuloslistaa:
Voitto!

Atlanta is usually a very hot and humid place to be in July and this summer is not an exception. However, we are freezing at the bridge table, the air-conditioning blowing cold air at maximum. The first tournament is a two-day knock-out teams, starting on Friday afternoon and our first opponent is a team captained by Lou Ann O´Rourke. The first half we are doing pretty well and we are up by 16 IMPs after the first 12 boards. The second half starts even better. The first board gives us 14 IMPs.



Four clubs showed shortness, four hearts control and five clubs 0/3 keycards. With zero I wouldn´t have made a control bid, so Vesa could guarantee all the keys and the trump Queen with five no-trumps. Six clubs and six diamonds showed Kings, but then I had to slow down with six spades. Dennis Clerkin started with a heart to my Ace, I played three rounds of spades and continued with a diamond to the nine and Jack. Rest was easy, 12 tricks and 1430 for the good guys.

At the other table south was bidding the fourth suit at his second turn, North three diamonds and South three spades, fixing the trump suit. Next Ron Smith asked keycards and Curtis Cheek promised two plus the Queen with five spades. Five no trumps was inviting to grand and south accepted with a jump to seven spades.

Seven spades is a reasonable contract and makes against most reasonable lies of cards. Let´s assume trump lead to the ten, club Ace, club ruff, heart to the Ace, Club ruff, unblocking the spade honours, ruffing a heart, removing East´s last trump with the Ace and claiming the contract. But not against Melih Ozdil! Melih found the only lead to disturb declarer´s communications, a small heart. The heart lead removed the vital entry back to hand and there was no way for declarer to recover. One down and a gain of 14 IMPs. Six boards later:



Clerkin brothers are playing a strong club system, so the jump to three spades was promising 14-15(16) points with a six-card spade suit. I decided to lead the Jack of spades, Vesa was following twice, but then discarding the six of hearts on the third round of trumps. The first discard is Italian, the six of hearts being not so clear signal, maybe just a neutral card. I followed to the second and third trick with the ten and the nine to show strong interest for a heart switch. Dennis Clerkin continued with a small diamond to dummy´s Queen and another diamond to his King, Vesa showing the odd number with the ten and three. I had to win the trick with the Ace, but what next?

So, I know for sure that declarer has AKQxxx in spades and Kxx in diamonds. When a defender has one master trump left, it´s normal to cash it out at the earliest possible opportunity. But now cashing the eight of spades would be of course a big mistake. When Vesa discarded hearts at the first opportunity, I was quite certain that he has 2-4-3-4 and not 2-3-3-5. From a five-card suit it would be so obvious to make the first discard. So, declarer has most likely 6-1-3-3. If declarer has the Ace of clubs, he´s claiming soon. If partner has AQ of clubs, declarer won´t make this contract. If partner has A109, any club continuation is enough. If declarer has Q10x, that´s too bad for us. But think if declarer has Q9x. If you continue with a small club, declarer will play low from dummy and probably makes the right play when you later continue the suit. But the Jack of clubs might work out well! The whole deal:



The Jack of clubs did work well, declarer winning this in his hand with the Queen. I ruffed the diamond and a club switch gave us four tricks for one down. At the other table Sadik and Melih were playing natural system and opener´s two spades on his second turn became the final contract. Two overtricks and well deserved 7 IMPs to our side.

On the second round we don´t have any easier opponents. Justine and Melih are playing against Gaylor Kasle and Connie Goldberg, while at our table we are competing against Singaporeans Hua Poon and Choon Chou Loo. The first half we win 26-21. For the second half the Singaporeans change the table to play against Sadik and Melih and the Italians Massilimiano di Franco and Andrea Manno are coming in to our table. After a quite low scoring set we win this half, with 28-16, so next day we start the semi-finals!

In the first half of the semi-final Justine and Melih are starting against Dano de Falco and Patricia Cayne. We play against the Dutch pair Bart Nab and Bob Drijver. We are still doing well and at the halftime we are up with 42-16. The second half starts well. Tim Verbeek opens one club to my right and I see AQJ8, 86543, K4, J6. We are vulnerable against not and of course passing would be the most disciplined choice with these cards. Discipline is not my thing, however, and I choose to make a canape-style overcall of one spade. Danny Molenaar passes and Vesa raises to four spades. Molenaar leads a trump and dummy is better than I deserve: K1096, J, 109753, AK3. The trump lead prevents me to make the contract by crossruffing, but luckily the Ace of diamonds is onside, and the diamonds are 3-3, so I have no difficulties to make 10 tricks. Lucky for us, our opponents are playing 10-12 NT-opening in the first seat NV. Verbeek has a balanced 15 count, so +620 is of course a very good score for us, because at the other table our teammates are opening 1NT and it´s much harder for the opponents to find their spade fit after that opening. Our relaxed feeling is gone in the very next board. Knowing that they need IMPs aggressively, our Dutch opponents are bidding seven spades missing Queen fourth in the trump suit and Queen fourth in the vital side suit. Both suits are 2-2, so seven is made and we were sure to lose 13 IMPs. That´s what happened as well, but we win the second half with one IMP, 41-40.

In the final we are meeting the team of “Pepsi”, Jacek Pszczola. The Polish pair Jacek Kalita and Michal Nowosadzki are not doing their best against us and we have a comfortable lead of 17 IMPs after the first half. The second half is not too good for us anyway. After some bad boards we had a real disaster:


Sjoert Brink starts with the King of clubs, takes the King of diamonds with the Ace and plays back another club. The Queen of diamonds is the last trick for Vesa, five down and 1100 for the opponents! The result is of course very ugly, but who´s to blame? Our teammates proposed that Vesa should pass one trump, so that I could choose the longer minor. Anyway, I don´t think that would be a good idea. If you pass one no trump, then you are practically shouting to everybody that we are in trouble. But in you bid a minor, looking confident, then it´s not so easy for the opponents to double, especially if they have only three or four trumps in one hand.

After this board we are pretty sure to lose this match. Deep inside I hope that either our teammates have also a very bad half, losing a lot and not just because of our bad boards, or then they have a very nice 12 board set, so we could win anyhow. Luckily for us, Sadik and Melih are crushing Kalita & Nowosadzki at the other table, we lose the second half with nine IMPs, but we win the whole match with eight IMPs. So not a bad start at all for these Nationals! The results: http://live.acbl.org/event/NABC182/272A/2/recap

perjantai 13. heinäkuuta 2018

Still couple of interesting hands from Oostende


In the second round match against defending champions France I hold a good hand:
A Q 10 9 4, A J 4, A 10 6, A K. After three passes I open two clubs, artificial strong, and my partner responses two diamonds, waiting. Now I have two options, either two spades or two no-trumps. I prefer to bid two no-trumps, showing 22-24 hcp balanced, because my partner can ask five card majors if he wants to. Vesa bids next four no-trumps, natural and inviting. I have minimum points for my bid, but with the fifth spade and two tens I have to go on. So, I bid six spades, proposing the final contract, and this is passed round. Jerome Rombaut leads the seven of spades.



After the spade lead I don´t have to worry about potential trump loser, but I have one loser in each of the red suits. The straightforward line would be drawing out the trumps and testing the diamonds. If they are not 3-3, I could take the heart finesse. So, I take three rounds of trumps, ending dummy. I play a small diamond to my ten, Rombaut wins with the Jack and continues with the queen. I play the third round and when both opponents are following, I can claim my contract. 



If East had four diamonds (in which case he would play back a club instead of a diamond), I could simply trust on a heart finesse, or I could play for a squeeze. If East had four diamonds and the Queen of hearts, all I have to do is to finish my black suits. But if West would be alone to guard the clubs, I didn´t have to care who has the Queen of hearts. In the four card ending I have the last spade and A J 4 of hearts. Dummy´s last cards are K 7 of hearts, one diamond and one club. When I play the last trump, East has to discard a heart, dummy a diamond, and then it´s West´s turn to be squeezed. 

Without any squeezes we score 1430 and I´m expecting either push or 13 IMP win, depending if our opponents reach the slam at the other table. But it turns out to be that we win 2 IMPs on the board. Lionel Sebbane and Paul Seguineau had a misunderstanding in the bidding and the final contract was six diamonds. In this slam you don´t have to think about any squeeze or finesse possibilities. Either the opponent´s diamonds are 3-3 or you go down! Those lucky bastards…

Against Ireland in round number 26: 



My red suit combinations were suggesting, that partner should be declaring, if our final contract is no-trumps. However, if I would open one spade, it might not be easy to describe my hand in continuation.  John Carroll´s two hearts was natural and his opening lead the six of clubs was fourth best. Tommy Garvey is following with the Queen. Take it over from here.

After the club lead I see seven top tricks and I can easily establish the two missing tricks from the spade suit. Only if East has something like Q10xx in spades, I could establish only one extra trick from this suit. But the lead is strongly suggesting, that East has a two suited hand with hearts and clubs, so if someone is long in spades, that´s Garvey. But if I attack the spade suit first, I might lose trick to the Queen of spades and defence might continue with four rounds of clubs for one down. Any ideas?

I decided to continue with clubs to the second trick. Of course, I would have something to explain to my teammates, if East made his opening lead from a six-card suit! Luckily West is following to second round of clubs and I´m not down yet. The idea of playing clubs is to see how the suit is divided between the opponents. If they are 4-3, I can´t fail to make my contract. If they are 5-2, Carroll might not take all his club tricks being afraid to rectify a squeeze against his partner. The clubs are 5-2, Carroll take two more rounds, then takes a long pause but finally plays the fifth round as well. Garvey discards three diamonds and I give up one diamond from the dummy. From my hand I discard one spade, one heart and one diamond. East plays next the six of diamonds. Where are we now?

West´s three diamond discards are telling, that he had originally six cards in that suit. I´ve lost already four tricks, so I can´t afford to make a wrong view in the spade suit. I take a second round of rounds and East´s six was singleton, as expected. If East had 2-5-1-5, I just have to make right guess in spades. But if he had 1-6-1-5, the contract is assured. My next move is to take two rounds of hearts to confirm the exact distribution. If East has 1-6-1-5, West is squeezed on the second round of hearts. He has to keep his master diamond and therefore he has to discard one spade. Then I can continue with the King of spades and take the marked finesse against West. But unfortunately, West is following to the two rounds of hearts, so I know that East had 2-5-1-5 and now I have to make the right guess in spades. Would you play for the finesse or the drop?

I continued with the spade King and small to the Jack, being quite confident that the finesse will be right. Remember the discards of Garvey. If he had 10xx, xx, QJ10xxx, Qx, he wouldn´t discard three diamonds, because declarer might have AJxx, Axx, Axxx, Kx. The whole hand:



Unfortunately, the lead against the same contract is the Jack of clubs at the other table and declarer´s worries were over.   

Written by Kauko

What could be a better place to update our blog, after the sunset sitting on my 18 th floor balcony and sipping Californian Pinot Grigio...