perjantai 5. huhtikuuta 2019

Memphis NABC (some interesting boards)

Our 14th Nationals playing together were held in Memphis, Tennessee. For five times we have been playing in a team captained by Hansa Narasimhan and eight times our captain has been Justine Cushing. Now in Memphis we had a new team, playing four-handed with Connie Goldberg from Philadelphia and Hua Poon from Singapore. As usual, we arrived already on Wednesday evening to have one day to recover the jetlag. Thursday, our vacation day, was luckily nice and sunny. There’s not too much to see in Memphis, the best part of our sightseeing was the Civil Rights Museum, which was located in the same building that Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. 

The sun was shining :)

The Spring Nationals starts traditionally with the Kay Platinum Pairs. This was our first time to play this event, since with Hansa and Justine we always started the first weekend with Knock-out Teams. Platinum Pairs is a three-day event pair with half of the field eliminated after each day. To be eligible to play in the event player must have won at least 50 platinum points in the past three years (platinum points are earned only in National rated events of ACBL). Before the games started Connie asked us to be nice to her if we would meet at the table. We met. And we were nice.

It’s a borderline decision if my hand is good enough for GF 2/1.  Two spades didn’t promise six cards, and that’s why I had to bid two no-trumps. Three clubs was natural, possibly 6-4, and three spades showed doubleton. Hua started with the Queen of hearts and I was already regretting not having bid a semi-forcing one no trump. Vesa would have shown his black two-suiter and my invitational two no trumps would have ended the auction. 

Connie follows the lead with the six of Hearts, standard attitude. What would be your line of the play?

The prospects were poor indeed. Even if spades would break, the lead removed the only sure entry to the dummy. Looks like I have to find spades 3-3 and Club King with West to make my contract. I decided to try my luck in diamonds first. The ten of Diamonds ran to West’s Queen and Hua returned a low heart to Connie’s ten and my King. A low spade went to the King, back to hand with the Jack of Diamonds and another spade, Hua winning with the Ace and Connie showing an even number. Hua returned a Diamond to Connie’s King and my Ace. Fingers crossed I tried a Club to dummy’s Queen, but Connie won with the King and contract was two down. The whole hand:

With open cards I could have made the contract. After the Ace of Hearts, I should play a Club to the Ace and a small spade to dummy’s King. Then a low spade from dummy and later ducking a Club to Connie’s King and nine tricks are mine! Not easy to find this kind of imaginative line. And we promised to be nice… After the first session we were just above the qualification line, but the second session was well below average, so we were kicked out from this event after the very first day. 

On Saturday we entered the A/X Open Pairs, with much easier field, as the following board proves. How would you play the hand if North finds the best lead, a trump?

At our table an elderly lady from the North seat tried her luck with the Ace of Spades and Vesa soon claimed all the tricks, with a 94% score for us. After the trump lead it’s not that easy. If you try to ruff all your minor losers in dummy, you have to concede a diamond to the defence and after a second round of trumps the contract will fail by one trick. Dummy reversal saves the day. You win the heart lead in dummy and ruff a spade. Next concede a diamond trick for the opponents and win the trump continuation (as good as anything). A spade ruff to the hand is followed by Diamond Ace and a ruff. A third spade is ruffed to the hand and dummy is crossed with the Queen of Clubs. After two rounds of trumps South is squeezed in minors the whole hand being:

After the spade lead Vesa was playing the dummy reversal with the squeeze and the lucky lie in the minors gave him the valuable overtrick.  The first session we scored 59% and the second 55%, which meant 6th place in the field of 114 pairs. The results:

Our original plan was to start the main team event, the Vanderbilt KO-teams, on Monday, but Connie changed her mind and we decided to play pairs during the week and teams only the last weekend. With only four in the team it was maybe the best thing to do. In the Vanderbilt it’s better to have at least a five-member team.

The second main Pairs event of the week was the two-day Lebhar IMPs Pairs. We start very well and after the first session we have the lead with over 80 IMPs, with over 10 IMP gap for the second place. The following board was one of the successful ones of the session:

You have a modest holding A874 Q1072 A2 1084. RHO opens with one Heart, LHO one Spade, RHO two Hearts, LHO two no trumps and RHO three no trumps. Your turn. A man or a mouse?
At matchpoints doubling would be lunatic, at IMPs only foolhardy, but that’s what I did. Partner obeys and leads a heart, but when the dummy gets down, I’m getting worried.

With 16 hcp in the dummy I start to regret my double. Well, if he makes the contract, it’s only minus four IMPs. 

Declarer takes the trick with the Ace, plays a diamond to his Queen and a second round to dummy’s King. I continue with a small spade and declarer plays a small. After the second round of Hearts declarer can’t make more than eight tricks, 8 IMPs for the good guys. Declarer didn’t want to play the King of Spades, because if Diamonds are 3-3, he has nine tricks. But on the other hand, I would not play a small Spade if I have the Queen as well. Poor declarer must have been very unhappy to go down in three no trumps with a combined 28 count!

The following club slam was an interesting declarer play problem:

Two no trumps promised 18-19, three Clubs forced three Diamonds and four Clubs showed 5-5 blacks with slam invitational values. Now my four Diamonds would ask keycards with Clubs as trumps, four Hearts would accept the slam invitation with Spades as trumps, four Spades and no trumps would be to play. When partner was a passed hand I didn’t dream about grand slam, but to make a slam invitation he must have at least one Ace, so I saved some time by not to using RKCB with four Diamonds, but rather bid directly what I thought I can make. As if we ever were short of time… South leads the King of Diamonds. Take it over.  

The first four tricks are obvious. The Ace of Diamonds, a Heart to the Ace, a Club to the Ace and discarding a Diamond to the King of Hearts. But then?

How about taking the King of Clubs and if the Queen is not falling, eliminating the red suits and throwing in the defender with the last trump. Not a good idea. Dummy doesn’t have any more trumps and defence can safely exit with a Diamond. If declarer could eliminate the red suits and then finesse Clubs, South must open the Spade suit, if he has doubleton Queen of Clubs. Forget that! Declarer doesn’t have entries to do all that. Hoping to find some material for the daily bulletin, I cashed a high Heart, ruffed a Heart to dummy, took the Ace of Spades, came into my hand with the King of Spades, ruffed a Diamond and was prepared to run the Jack of Clubs. If South has the Queen of Clubs doubleton, but a Spade doubleton as well, he is endplayed and has to give me ruff and discard. If North would have overruffed the fourth Heart with his doubleton Queen, I would have been thankful that I would have to apologize only to my partner and not to my teammates as well! The whole hand:

We start the second day from third place, but the carryovers are surprisingly small. The third session is not good and the fourth is bad. We are not playing well but our opponents are.

Your partner starts with the Jack of Clubs. What is your defensive plan?

If you take the Ace of Clubs, you must return your singleton Diamond to the second trick. This is just enough to beat the contract the whole hand being:

Declarer has nine tricks, one Spade, four Hearts, Two Diamonds and two Clubs, but not a real chance to establish the tenth trick. The spades are breaking, but declarer can’t establish the suit without giving the lead to East, who will return a Diamond and West will ruff out one of declarer’s winners. And if declarer removes West’s all trumps, he doesn’t have an entry to cash out his strong Clubs. But let’s make North’s Spades slightly stronger, say 1093. Then if you took the Ace of Clubs in the first trick, you handed the contract for your opponents. Then a Diamond return is not enough anymore. Declarer can establish his tenth trick from the Spade suit. East will never gain the lead for the Diamond ruff. Easiest way to set the contract is to play low to the first trick! The Ace of Clubs will never score a trick, but declarer ends up one trick short. That’s what our opponent did at the table, earning 8 IMPs for this good defence. 

After the games at post mortem we came to the conclusion that North should bid three no trumps at his second turn. South’s three Diamonds surely shows majors, but why didn’t he double at his first turn. Because his distribution is not correct for a take-out double. Most probable 4-4-3-2 or 4-4-4-1. And if for example Kxx of Diamonds, North should be the declarer in a no trump contract. East hardly can start the Queen of Diamonds from AQ10xxx. 

On Tuesday it’s again matchpointed pairs event with 70 pairs of average standard. First round, second board, I have nice opening hand 1054 AKQ106 95 K92, prepared to open one Heart in the second seat, but East open one Heart before me and I have to pass. West bids one Spade, East two Clubs and West three no trumps. Do you react? A man or a mouse? 

Having four sure tricks after the Heart lead, I decided to gamble with a lead directing double. Partner duly leads the nine of Hearts.

Declarer covers with the Jack and you win with the Queen. What next? 

If partner has a singleton Heart, I should cash my four Heart tricks and hope that we can cash fifth from somewhere. But if I cash my Hearts, I might establish ninth trick for the declarer. That’s why I played back the ten of Spades, just hoping that the remaining Heart is in my partner’s hand. How right I was:

Declarer took the trick with the Ace, Vesa was signalling with the Queen and dummy discarding a Club. The declarer crossed to dummy with a Diamond and took a successful Club finesse, but when the King was not coming down under the Ace, the contract was one down. 

The declarer didn’t choose the best line of the play. After the Ace of Spades he should cross to dummy with a Diamond and play the eight of Hearts discarding a Club from his hand. I win and can take one more round of Hearts before switching to a Spade.  But if I cash a third round of Hearts, I’m paving the way for an endplay against me. After the third round of Hearts I continue with a Spade, but declarer wins and cashes his Diamond tricks. I have to keep my three clubs so in the four-card ending declarer throws me in with my singleton master heart and I have to give declarer three Club tricks.

It doesn’t make any difference if I don’t take a third heart but play a spade instead. Declarer ducks the Spade to Vesa and organizes the same kind of endplay against me. So, giving up?

No, don’t take a third heart and don’t continue with a Spade but a Diamond! If declarer now concedes a Spade to Vesa, he will play another Diamond. In the five-card ending I have two high Hearts left and the contract goes down. So again. Heart nine, Jack, Queen and small. Spade ten, Ace, Queen and small. Diamond to the Ace and Heart eight to the King. And now after a Diamond switch one down?

Oh no, declarer has a different kind of medicine against that! He takes the Queen, finesses the ten and takes the fourth Diamond. After two rounds of Clubs with a finesse he plays a middle Spade to Vesa, who has only Spades left in his hand. Vesa is able to continue with a high spade, but declarer ducks and takes two last tricks his K6 of Spades. Who would have believed that North can’t afford to play a high Spade at the second trick! 

If Vesa plays a low spade instead of the Queen and declarer crosses to dummy with a Diamond to play the eight of Hearts, would I have found the killing defence not to cash a third Heart but to play back a Diamond? 

To be honest, I would have misdefended that position! We have two good sessions, 63% and 67%, finishing first with a big margin to the second place. The results:

On Wednesday it’s again a two-session pairs tournament with 112 pairs participating. You open with one Spade holding A6542 A73 Q4 KJ3, LHO overcalls with two diamonds and partner doubles negatively. What is your call?

I was tempted to bid two no trumps. If partner has something like Axx or Kxx in Diamonds, the contract would be right-handed. I decided to bid two Hearts anyway, rebidding this kind of spade suit was not an option for me. Partner invites with three hearts. What then? 

At IMPs I would accept the invitation with three no trumps, hoping for the best, but at matchpoints it is wiser to go for a plus score and pass. 

South starts with the Ace and King of Diamonds and continues with a third round of the suit. Your plan?

Obviously, our opponents are having a signalling misunderstanding. I happily discarded a spade from the dummy and ruffed in my hand. I took the Ace of Hearts and continued the suit to South’s King. He tried a Spade, but I claimed ten tricks. 

A clever no trump bid from me wouldn’t have worked at all this time. Even if South leads a low Diamond, seven tricks is the limit in a no trump contract. The nice gift from our opponents gave us 99% score, but I shouldn’t be too proud of that. The opponents made a serious error, but so did I. 

It was a mistake to cash out the Ace of trumps. Now if South continues with a fourth round of Diamonds after the King of Hearts, North’s Jack of trumps is promoted to a trick. But if I continue with a low heart after the Diamond ruff, I always make ten tricks. The two sessions were 60% and 61%, being enough for third place, only four matchpoints behind the winners. In the last board I made an expensive misguess. So close for a second first place! The results: 

The third big pairs tournament, Silodor Open Pairs, a two-day National event has a starting field of 336 pairs. Again, half of the field is eliminated after the first day. The first session is very good, 63%, the second enough, 50%, and we are qualifying easily for the second day. In the third session we do almost everything right, scoring 69% and taking the lead with a big margin to the second place. 

Stefan Skorchev from Bulgaria and Cristophe Grosset from France won’t forget the next board too soon:

Two no trumps showed 20-21, but with good five-card suit upgrading should be automatic. Skorchev started with a low club (fourth best) and Vesa noticed that this opening lead was not surely the best for the defence. Grosset follows with the eight of Clubs. What next?

Did you play a high Club from dummy? Then you won’t make your contract anymore. You can establish your Club suit, but you will make only seven tricks and go one down. That should be a fair score, because looks like NS can make nine tricks in Diamonds. Vesa played the seven from dummy and overtook the eight with the Ace! The whole hand:

Vesa continued with a low Heart, Skorchev took the Queen and continued with the Queen of Clubs! That’s an expert play. If you lead a low Club to the presumed partner’s Jack and declarer’s King, you are on the lead later, which is not a good thing, of course. The play of the Queen forces out declarer’s King and after few moments South will take a trick with the Jack of Clubs and play Diamonds thru declarer. Now the Queen of Clubs was a disaster and we scored well deserved 80% from the board. Another good board from the third session:

My three Clubs showed 6-9 with four card support. Gale Senter started with the King of Hearts and continued with a small one to South’s Ace declarer ruffing. Vesa played a small spade and North was following with the nine. How would you continue?

Vesa played the ten from the dummy and South was following with the five. The Ace of trumps confirmed the 3-1 brake and next Vesa took Diamond AK and ruffed a diamond, North discarding a Club. Heart ruff was followed by another Diamond ruff, North again discarding a Club. On the forth Heart both defenders were following, Vesa ruffing and continuing with his fifth Diamond. North refused to ruff, but on the next trick Vesa could throw her in with the trump. Vesa got his tenth trick with the King of Clubs. These efforts were worth 83%. The whole deal:

If North would have ruffed third or fourth round of Diamonds, Vesa just discards a club on that trick and then another one on the fifth Diamond. If North would have split her Spade honours on the third trick, Vesa has to finesse the Diamonds in order to make his contract.

Unfortunately, the fourth session is just average, dropping us to fifth place. Fifth place in Silodor Pairs is maybe the best achievement for us so far in American Nationals, but it would be much nicer to rise up from f.ex. 20th place to fifth and not like this way! The results:

The last weekend it’s finally team tournament, Jacoby Swiss Teams. Out of 112 teams 56 will continue on Sunday, we end up at 39th place, six VPs above average. We start the final day well, rising up to best ten teams when four rounds is left to play. How would you play the following no trump game?

After the bidding I was commenting: “This is like playing with my wife!” Peter Bertheau was leading the three of Spades (attitude) and Daniel Zagorin was following with the eight (standard attitude and count). It’s a good question, should North show count or attitude for the ten. Anyway, I paused to think for a while and Peter was commenting: “Your wife would have finished the board already!” How would you continue?

If I play a diamond to the Jack and it loses to the Queen, I’m most often down. Only if Peter has five Spades two the King without any red Ace, I’ll survive. I decided to cross to my hand with a Club and played a Heart to the King. Zagorin cashed the Ace and played back the two of Spades, confirming the 4-4 Spade distribution. I ducked the Spade to Peter and next he cleared up the suit. Next I had to make the correct guess in diamonds. Zagorin had shown the other red Ace, so I played Diamond to the King. Wrong!

“Your wife would have made an overtrick!” was supposed to be a funny comment, but I didn’t laugh. I was sure that we should lose 10 IMPs on the board, but to my big relief Antonio Palma was playing the contract exactly the same way, so no swing. Before the last round we were lying seventh, just eight victory points behind the leaders. In the last match we made lots of wrong decisions at both tables, losing heavily and dropping to 16th place. If we would have won the last match with the same numbers we lost, we would have won the whole event! So close. Maybe next time? Las Vegas in July. Results:

Kauko Koistinen

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!


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:

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:

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:

Memphis NABC (some interesting boards)

Our 14th Nationals playing together were held in Memphis, Tennessee. For five times we have been playing in a team captained by Hansa Na...