Saturday, May 19, 2012

Two Wrongs Don 't Make It Right

My wife Alla broke a bone in her foot so I have been the household technician, nurse, cook, chauffer and cat care giver for about 5 weeks. This from a guy who, as my wife so often puts it “does nothing around the house.” If I ever catch up to that woman who said that “Women’s work is never done”, I am going to award her a scholarship to MIT.  

I have often been asked about how many people actually visit my bridge blog. When I started out, I intentionally did not put up a blog counter. Who wants to find out that only your three partners read your stuff, and even they drop off after about 3 months? After all, I was doing it for amusement and to force myself to wade through some of those bridge books that I had stacked up under the bed. Well 5+ years later I now have about 150 posts to the blog and am running out of material. My computer technical skills do not include the techniques to clip and save hand records and drop them into my blog. Consequently, most of my blogs deal with play, defense and bidding commentary and not hand problems. has, from the beginning, been the host for my blog since it is user friendly and free. Someone on the Blogspot staff had too much time on their hands so recently they decided to furnish to blog owners with "in depth" demographics about blog reads, the geographic dispersion of blog readers, graphs upon graphs and detail on which posts were the most popular. With more than a little trepidation I opened the page. Of course I wouldn’t be writing about this if I wasn’t pretty well satisfied. I have surpassed 40,000 reads, and I have readers in most parts of the World except Africa, and the Middle East. Not bad for a Minnesota farm boy whose early card skills and training was limited to Whist on the oil cloth covering the kitchen table. 

 My top five blog reads were in order (i)  Western Cue Bid (ii) Support Doubles Made Simple (iii) Combined Bergen Raises (iv) Super Duper Acceptances and (v) No Trump by the Numbers. Not really what I expected, but readers rule.  

After an extended absence, I played duplicate the other day with my expert partner Jim Bailey. Bobby Goldman in his book vowed that he would never lose match points on the last few boards from lack of concentration, and I have repeated that many times with approval. So on Board 22 I was in second position waiting impatiently for the dealer to do something, actually anything!  

I was admiring my heart suit and thinking about the laundry and drugstore when the dealer finally passed. I had a mental disconnect and pulled out the 1 heart bidding card rather than the 1NT that I intended to bid. Not being sure whether it was a mental or functional error, I did not call the director and decided to gut it out. After a nice “in tempo” pass on my left, Jim now bids three hearts (preemptive raise)! I rolled my eyes upward and passed, thinking there is a bridge God after all. Here are the hands. I am South:




I knew that I had to make 3 hearts since other teams would be 1NT/2d/2 hearts/all pass. I am hoping I can play this fast, claim early and fold so Jim will not see that I bid a 4 card major. To make a long story short and painless, I played the hand as poorly as I bid it and Jim did eventually catch up to me..

West (Bob Dewey, a rising intermediate) finds a small diamond lead (the best lead) and I take it with the King in my hand. I play the King of trump taken by Bob's Ace and Bob returns another diamond to force my diamond entry (another good play, who is this guy anyway?).What do you do next? You can make 3 hearts only if you make the right timing decision at this point. Solve the problem before you move on.  

This is not a complicated play problem. It’s pretty straightforward, but since it served as a good object lesson for me, and aggravated Jim a good deal,
I thought it might help some of my novice and intermediate readers. As my partner Jim is fond of saying, “It is basic bridge” (which only helps if you know all the basics and can recall them at will under the gunJ).

When you take the Diamond ace, it appears you may be in the dummy for the last time unless you create a second entry. The only way to do this is to play the spade suit and hope that East has the spade Ace which she does. It doesn’t matter if she takes the Ace of spades or ducks the Ace of spades and permits declarer to win with the King, as long as you get the best defense.

If the King holds you play two rounds of trump and lead a small spade. East will take the second spade and lead the ten of clubs (again best defense). In this case you must cover the ten with the King to regain the lead. Now you ruff your third spade on the board creating that missing entry to lead toward your Jack of clubs. You will ultimately lose a heart, a spade and two clubs making three hearts. If East takes the Ace of spades she must return the ten of clubs with the same result. Put up the King of Clubs, pull trump and lead the 3rd spade. 

Oh, there is another reason I don’t do play of the hand problems. I am not too good at them and always get a dozen amateur solvers telling me I got it all wrong. If you have another solution against best defense, bring it on!! Comments at