Ray Lee

A couple of tough decisions

Linda’s on her way to the Canada Team Trials, which start tomorrow (watch her blog for reports) so she’s delegated me to cover the US Open Team Trials which began today.   Since I was a VuGraph commentator for the first two sets, it wasn’t hard to find something to write about.

Unlike matchpoints, where every board counts the same, IMPs is a game where you can trundle along playing nothing deals for a while, then suddenly hit a decision that you just know is going to swing a bushel of IMPs, one way or the other.  I’ll give you a couple of those from today’s action.

The first one, I’ll tell like a story, as Larry Cohen puts it.

Dealer: W

Vul: NS

West East
KQJxxx xxx
Q10xx KJxxxx
x x
xx xxx

We were just commenting on the fact that grand slams are available on the NS cards, when West got the diamonds in first: a Multi 2D.  White against red, I don’t mind the side heart suit.  North bid 2H, a strong takeout of hearts (he sure had that), and East (to me, unaccountably) passed.  I mean, if your partner opened 2S or better yet, 2H, at these colors, wouldn’t you up the preempt on the East hand? Anyway, he passed, and South jumped to 4D.  North cuebid 4H, giving East a chance to come to life with a double.  South obviously thought he had done enough with his first bid, so passed rather than bidding 4S (my choice), and North ended the auction with a leap to 6D.  Or did he?

West still had to bid, and he came to life with a call of 6H.  I personally hate check and raise bidding — I would have bid 5H or 6H over partner’s double in the first place,and let them make the last guess.  But there he was, and for a while it looked like he was going to win even more IMPs than he would have done by passing (yes, they did bid the grand in the other room).  North made a forcing pass over 6H, and South still had nothing to add, so he doubled, ending the auction.  Or did he?

No, North was not yet done.  Having made a forcing pass, he now pulled partner’s double (which was in tempo BTW) to 7D, securing a push on the board.  West thought long and hard about bidding 7H, but subsided, possibly realizing that 7NT would be available even if the heart grand was a good save. I have no explanation for North’s bidding.

So an eventful push, in the end.  I got some laughs from the kibitzers by suggesting that North’s pass and pull to 7D showed a stronger hand than the direct 7D bid would have.

But that was just the curtain-raiser.  Here’s the really fun one.  This time, it’s a defensive problem:

S  9 2   H  9  D  7 5  C A K Q J 10 8 5 4

Everyone is vulnerable, and you’re not totally surprised to hear RHO open with 1C, strong and artificial.  You raise clubs to game, and LHO goes into the tank.  He emerges with a bid of 6H!  Partner contributes the first pass, and RHO retreats to 6S.  Everyone passes this, you lead the CA, and this is the dummy:

S —  H A K Q 10 7 6 5 3   D  J 8 6   C 7 3

Partner plays the C6 (standard count) and declarer the C9.  Your play (BTW, only 17 IMPs depend on your next card).

Well, you can’t tell from the spots, as declarer could easily be concealing the C2.   The question is, given the auction, how many clubs and/or hearts is declarer likely to have?  Could he have no hearts and two clubs?  One of each?   If he has one heart, a heart shift will beat the hand.  Could partner even have the DA?  Okay, time to make a play… I’ll tell you that one East played a second club, and one played a heart, and only one of them was right.

Okay here’s the answer:  if you played a club, you were with Neil Chambers, and you lost 17 IMPs.  Only a red card will beat the slam, and  Michael Prahin found the heart switch.  This was declarer’s hand:

S A K Q J 8 7 6 4   H 2    D  K Q 3   C  9

So the heart switch takes out dummy’s entry before trumps have been drawn, and there’s no place to put the diamond losers.

Stay tuned — more tomorrow.

1 Comment

Chris HasneyJune 7th, 2009 at 4:02 am

Poker is such a fun game! Did the winner tip the dealer?

Leave a comment

Your comment