Sunday, May 30, 2010

Four Person Team Wins Pairs Event!

Yesterday I played in the Rochester (New York) Duplicate Bridge Club Friday game with my partner Betty Ann Schmitz. At least that is how it started out. Betty Ann’s bronchitis got the best of her and she bailed out at the end of 8 boards. Game director Doug Bradley then stepped in as a courtesy to replace Betty Ann and we played 6 Boards. We had just gone down 5 in 4 spades doubled for -1100 when in walked Dave Hunt. He had just completed work and had come over to Kibitz his regular partner. Doug quickly grabbed him and put him in the North seat and now I am matched up with my third partner for the day. With 12 boards to go my team was sputtering along with a 50% game with lots of good teams coming up in my rear view mirror.

Now Dave is one of Rochester’s premier players and almost exclusively plays with a single partner, equally adept, so I know him only as an opponent to be avoided when possible. His size equals his bridge talent (XXL). Out of respect for the Bridge Gods, I have never spoken a compete sentence to Dave and now I have this mountain of a man with talent to match sitting across from me. He glanced at Betty Ann’s card and said “Let’s Go.” It was at this point that I knew that I should have left with Betty Ann.

In my short bridge career I have rarely had the experience of one person simply taking over the game and dominating it. In 12 short boards, Dave, through aggressive bidding and flawless play, raised our team from the muck and mire to a first overall finish. If having a 4 person pair team isn’t unusual enough, surely a first overall finish is a fitting counterpart when I am the guy sitting South. The most amazing thing to me was that as intimidating as Dave is as an opponent, he was one of the most nurturing partners that I have ever encountered. He never failed to say “nice dummy partner” or “nice bid partner” and always had that “we got ‘em where we want ‘em” smile to encourage me.

Dave showcased his analytical skills on several hands, but the one I remember best is Board 23. Both vulnerable, West is dealer. Here are the hands.




West opens 1 diamond, Dave overcalls 1 spade and East passes. Some might cue bid 2 diamonds with the South hand, but with 13 support points I didn't want to over inform opponents, so I put Dave to the test and bid 4 spades. Those who don't like that bid can use the comment button.

East decided the defense called for an attacking lead with West's opening hand values and led the Ace and a small heart taken by the King in declarer’s hand. One thought is that if the King of spades is on side you can make 5 spades. Dave was not to be fooled by that simplistic analysis. He lead the jack of spades, East smoothly played the 5, Dave without hesitation refused the finesse, went up with the Ace of spades and then played a small spade losing to West’s King. A heart came back but it was too late, East was out of trump. Are you up to that play? Play for 5 and you make 3, but if you correctly analyze East’s opening lead and plan of defense, you make 4 spades for 10 of 12 matchpoints.

All is not well that ends poorly. While we sat idly by, on the last two boards Katherine Slocomb and Yvonne Limbeck decided to finish with a flourish. On Board 25 they bid and Yvonne made 6NT that involved dropping the Queen of Spades doubleton on a 5-2 split (a 5% probability) and then squeezing poor Dave in hearts and spades for a cold top. On Board 26 they bid and made 4 hearts on a combined 21 hcps. Only one other pair found that contract. Even on good days this game can be humbling. To see Boards 25 and 26 go to click on "Direct Link to Hand Records" and click on the hands for Friday May 28.

As they say on the PGA Golf Tour advertisements, “These guys are good!”


larry miles said...

Hey Tommy, glad to have you back in NY. I'm still recovering but should be well soon. Of course your 4 person team won, you were SEEDED #1 NS. Yeoww. BTW your raise is correct. It should show mostly spades, in case the opponents push on to the 5 level. To show cards, willing to defend if it comes to that, you cue bid first. This principle comes up time after time in competetive auctions. Best regards and HAPPY BRIDGING. SPADEWOOD.

Jim Bailey said...

Hi Tommy,

I would like to think I'd have played the hand like Dave. Simply counting the missing points should convince you not to take the trump finesse. The ace leader has already shown up with 4 hcp. If he also has the trump king, then the opener would have opened the hand with only 13 hcp, certainly possible, but it's much more likely that the trump king is with opener. Besides, opener's partner with an ace and the trump king would probably double with two likely defensive tricks, based on the bidding.

Your bid was certainly correct. Many partners, including Sammy, would likely criticize Dave's overcall with such a crappy suit, but it worked this time.

Dave pretty well guarantees the contract by refusing the finesse and not risking a ruff. Nice playing on Dave's part & nice bidding on your part!


Jim Bailey said...

Oops. Misspoke. I meant 11hcp, not 13. 40-11-11-(4+3) would give opener only 11hcp, not likely; thus, refuse the finesse and make the contract.

Jim Bailey said...

Oops! I misspoke. If the finesse was on, opener would have 11hcp, so a successful finesse is most unlikely and declarer should refuse to take it, as Dave did.

40-11-11-(4+3) = 11hcp

Nice play on Dave's part & nice bid on your part! If there's any criticism, it's Dave's marginal overcall, but it's hard to knock success ;-)