The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Monday, April 07, 2003


I played five sessions of bridge last week. On Tuesday I scrambled from my job interview with Docent over to the club and played with Eric. We had a massive game, over 67%, and won of course. Then on Friday after my second interview with Docent Eric and I played in the first pairs game at the San Jose sectional. This was held at the Masonic temple, which is an imposing structure on a hill near 87 and Curtner. We had about a 55% game. We erred on some hands and also had some bad luck. For instance, my left hand opponent held SKQJ9 HA9875 DA3 CA8 and heard his partner open 1S. He bid 2N, which was a forcing spade raise. His partner then bid 3H showing heart shortness. He keycarded and found his partner with the spade ace and a heart void. It's not clear why this made his hand better but he bid the grand and found his partner with a sixth spade and the CKQJ. This was about a 10% board. Thanks!

Saturday night I played with Sherry as I mentioned in the previous post. Sunday I was set to play in the Swiss with Dan and two other members of our GNT team. I talked to Dan on Saturday, gave him directions, and reminded him about the time change. Gametime arrived but no sign of Dan. I got a good substitute, one of the better players from the 0-2000 GNTs which were being held simultaneously with the sectional. We had a good set and nearly blitzed the opponents. Still no sign of Dan!

We could no longer borrow players from the GNT teams as their scedule did not match ours. So I asked a five-person team if we could borrow one of their players. I did get a substitute but unfortunately we were not on the same wavelength.

Here is a defensive problem:

2nd chair, vul v. not, you hold SAQ83 HQJT4 DCJT875. RHO opens 2D weak, you double (no, I wouldn't double either), RHO bids 3N, and partner doubles for penalty.

Partner leads the S5. You play attitude, where a low leads indicate interest in the suit and high leads disinterest, with no length information. Here is the dummy:

S7642 H86 DQJ8754 CA

Let's say you win the ace and declarer plays ST. What now?


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While you ponder that, consider a lead problem. You hold S3 H83 DQT98732 CQ84. All vulnerable, the auction starts at your left and is done before you bid: 1C 1S 3N. What do you lead?


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On the first hand, you need to return a club to remove dummy's entry. If you played a spade or a heart, you are in too much of a hurry. There is no hand consistent with the auction where declarer can run nine tricks. My partner played back a spade, declarer won, and the diamonds were set up for +650. My hand was SJ95 Hxxxx DAT96 CQx. (Not a classic double, but RHO was an overbidder and I knew she was not making it. My partner had overbid and yet we were still on for +300 or so.)

On the second hand, you have your choice of a spade or a diamond. A spade is good if your partner has good spade interiors and entries. A diamond is good if spades are not a threat, though you have so many diamonds that it seems unlikely you could ever run the suit -- declarer can hold up DAx.

If you led a diamond, you lose 12 imps. Most players I consulted led a diamond.

What was wrong with a diamond? Nothing! In fact, you find dummy with DAJ and partner with DKxx. In fact, you beat the contract four tricks vulnerable. Teammates were -930; my spade lead lost 17.

(I had fun telling people that their lead blew 12 imps, but I did learn something. World champion Lew Stansby told me that "if you never led a spade on this auction you would be ahead of the game." "Do they ever fool around with you on that basis?" "No.")

When I got home I had a message from Dan. He had a blowout while driving to the sectional and the result was a multicar pileup. His car was smashed and he had to go to the emergency room. Fortunately he was not badly injured.


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