This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Playoff drama

I was under-the-weather for yesterday's IMP league playoff match, and even more under-the-weather today so forgive the mistakes, typos, and drivel you are about to read if you don't stop right HERE.

We started the match down 1.75 IMPs, due to a small loss in the round robin. We played the boards out of order (sharing with the other three tables), and we had some verbal fireworks when we reached board 1. On the previous board, it had started 1NT(RHO, 15-17, unannounced)-P-P-Double, and after Karen's double (10+, a minor OR both majors OR big), I played in 2C making +110. The opponents now didn't pull their cards out for the next board but instead had a discussion of rescues over balancing doubles of their strong 1NT. I didn't think that was likely to happen again in the match but said nothing.

We reached 4H on this layout by 1H-4D(splinter);-4H:
(some hands are rotated)

The lead was the spade ten and I ducked to improve communications. The ten was overtaken by the jack, and the spade seven was ruffed by LHO. He returned a diamond which I ruffed. I was fairly certain the club ace was onside, so I ruffed a spade with the heart nine, and led a club up. LHO popped the ace, RHO following with the club queen, and LHO continued another diamond. I ruffed this and started to think. LHO gave me an intense "what are you going to do next" stare. Both opponents had taken considerable time on their plays after the opening lead, and now it was my time.

After a few minutes, the opponents called the TD to complain about the time I was taking. Karen mentioned that they didn't even start the board on time. The opponents explained that their discussion had only taken 30 seconds, while my tank had lasted seven minutes. Both these estimates were out-of-whack. I noted that the opponents had already been taking over a minute per play on this hand. The TD told us to continue as generally we had been keeping pace with the room.

After I had just settled back into thought in about 20 seconds the opponents were calling out to the TD to complain about my thinking again. The TD said to continue.

After another 20 seconds, the opponents called out to demand the TD maintain "a clock" at the table. The TD dismissed this, did not monitor the table, and I took another minute with this:
It seemed a triple squeeze was the best chance, so I overtook the heart queen with the king, and cashed all the trumps - LHO had started with three, RHO two. RHO had also started with QJT of clubs and ace of diamonds and thus could not hold on to everything. Making 4H was worth 10 IMPs as 3H was down one at the other table.

I mention all this poor drama since you may encounter various antics during your bridge adventures. In the Saturday Houston bulletin, Flash Gordon reported this series of exchanges with a charming young woman and her opponents in the Women's Pairs: Round 1 opponent offers wrinkle cream, Round 2 opponent looks at her dress and says that she has a pair of pajamas "just like that", Round 3 opponent asks "How many grandchildren do you have?"

When these antics start up, stay focused on the task at hand. Remember these are your opponents, not your friends, and that they are highly competitive. Certainly the opponents may have thought that I had taken too long on the hand, but they also knew, even if just subconsciously, calling the TD 3 times in short order was a good way to ruin my concentration. Likewise in the same league years ago, when Karen didn't play, a team banned Karen from kibitzing me during our match just to get me riled up.

Don't take these antics personally - it's just competitive spirit. The team that banned Karen realized it wasn't right afterwards, and we are now friends with them. In the case yesterday, even though we could have switched opponents at the half, we continued to play against the same players, and there were no further problems.

Karen later held, not vulnerable against vulnerable:
The bidding went P-P(Karen)-1S-Double;-Redouble-?

She bid 1NT, and it continued Double-2C;-P-P-Double-All Pass.

Would you bid 2D at some point?

2C smashed was not good spot as I had an obscenely bad takeout double, and cost -1100 and 10 IMPs. 2D doubled would likely cost 800 and 5 IMPs (or gain if the defense slips).

This is actually a system problem - I have been working on agreements for redoubles, but have not implemented anything here yet. After Karen's 1NT is doubled, we need to know how we runout with our own suit, and how we get partner to pick a suit.

I drop an extra -50 in a 4S contract by running trumps hoping the opponents make a mistake. I try to beat a 5D contract instead of cashing out, and it makes a +20 overtrick. We lost 8 IMPs in the first half, and there is a committee pending. Remember the 1NT rescues the opponents were discussing? At the other table it went 1NT(15-17)-P-2C(Stayman)-Double;-2H-P-P-Double-All Pass, and that was down 2 not vulnerable. However there was a BIT (Break-In-Tempo) by the bidder after 2H, and the TD rolled back the final double: 2H down two undoubled was just -100 and a push. The doubler, with 15 points and a 4-1-3-5 shape, appealed this ruling.

A defensive problem against 4S in the 2nd half:
You led the diamond jack, and it holds! Your play?

In the second half, we gain 6 IMPs on this board:
The auction is 1C(East)-1H(Karen)-P-2C;-3C-3D-P-4H-All Pass

Karen's 3D bid gets us to 4H, the queen of hearts is onside doubleton with short diamonds, so Karen is able to ruff the fourth diamond to make, winning 6 IMPs.

Two boards later, our highly active bidding style jams the bidding space out of the opponents, and they miss a nice slam. Our teammates have a clear run, but miss it.

On the hand above where the diamond jack wins at trick one, playing another diamond is fatal, switching to hearts immediately at trick two beats it, and if you play a black suit your partner needs to prevent the queen of spades from being used for a dummy entry - the layout:
It was down at both tables. A middle set of three boards gives us 16 IMPs - on the last of the three boards I go for -200 doubled (win 7 IMPs) where on a trump lead I'm -800.

On the next board, we have +110 in 3D. At the other table, the opponents open a weak notrump, get doubled by our teammates, who don't find a necessary unblock and its -280 and lose 5 imps. On the last board we played, our opponents reach 5D on this layout:
Our teammates bid: 1H-2D;-3S(splinter)-4S;-5S-6D

A club is led, no surprise, and its down, for lose 10 IMPs. Responder could not bid 4D over 3S as that was RKCB for diamonds, and thus had to cuebid 4S. Presumably over 4S, 4NT would also be RKCB, and thus opener could not express extra values without going above 5D. Thus RKCB had made a mess of the cuebidding.

We won 8 IMPs on the second half, and so a committee was not necessary as we had lost the playoff match by the original carry over.


  • At 8:48 AM, Blogger Memphis MOJO said…

    Nice hand reading on the deal where you made 4H (when they called the TD).

    "Both these estimates were out-of-whack."

    I noticed the same thing in the appeals at the NABCs. EW will say a BIT lasted 3 to 7 seconds, while NS say it lasted 40 seconds (or whatever).

    I asked (name withheld) why the players lie about it. He said he didn't think they were lying. Rather, they talk themselves into it and believe it.

  • At 10:28 AM, Blogger Glen Ashton said…

    One of my favorite stories of Stan Tench (the top TDs have the greatest bridge stories), is that he is called to a table at a NY area tournament. The player explains that there was a break-in-tempo, as his opponent took 14 seconds to make a bid. Stan asks how he knew it was 14 seconds. The player pulls out his stopwatch.


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