District 25
NEBridge - Buzz0711

The Buzz for July 2011

Hello again! The big buzz, from the webmaster's point of view, is that this web site has been completely revamped by Bob Bertoni and MhzComputer. But please don't send Bob your complaints. Any snafus are likely mine. I like the new site myself, but I'd like to hear what others think. Make suggestions if you see me at a tournament, or send them by email to webmaster@nebridge.org.

The Summer Regional in Sturbridge MA, June 20-26, 2011

As in past years, District 25 held its gala summer regional at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in late June, and as frequently happens, the big winner was our district director, Rich DeMartino. See the results page for all his big wins. Rich accumulated a phenomenal 118+ masterpoints at this tournament. Not all of these were easily come by.

Alan Applebaum had a shot at Rich in the finals of the Monday-Tuesday Knockout when he picked up 10xxxxx 10xxxx x x. Alan's partner opened 1. After two passes, LHO reopened with a double, and Alan's partner bid 4NT!

What can such a bid mean? Clearly, partner must have an unusual hand, which might be opened with a forcing bid at the other table. Alan didn't figure out what his partner was doing, and passed 4NT. Partner had  x AKQJx AKQxxxx. The opponents happily cashed eight major suit tricks for down five. At the other table, the big hand was opened 2, and declarer tortured his partner with forcing bids and eventually settled for 6, making. I understand the theory that one shouldn't open a low artificial strong bid with a two-suiter for fear of preemption, but I don't agree with it. Throw this board out, and Alan's team would have won.

I had a shot at Rich myself in the finals of the Friday Compact Knockout. Rich was dealt x 10xxx xxx 9xxxx. His partner opened 2, and RHO overcalled 2. Rich passed, and his partner alerted. Partner correctly explained that Rich had shown values! Rich had forgotten that they had agreed that responder should double with the hand for a double negative. LHO then bid 2, and opener 2. Rich, who is scrupulously ethical, bid 3, which would be a double negative after 2-P-2-P-2-P. Partner, who held AQJ10xx  AQx AQxx, asked for key cards, and when Rich showed none, bid 6. A heart was led and ruffed. Declarer played A, club, the suit dividing 2-2. A second heart forced out declarer's last trump, and declarer took a ruffing finesse in spades. When that won, he could get back to his A and discard all of dummy's losers. 6 making proved impossible to duplicate. The other table's 4 contract was defeated because spades were 4-2, and repeated heart forces prevented declarer from getting a discard on dummy's long club. Throw this board out, and my team would have beaten Rich in this event.

The event with the strongest field was, as usual, the Friday-Sunday Knockout. Once again, Rich reached the final. This time his opponents were Bi-Gu-Gamerman-Tsypkin. They had won a close semifinal when, after 1NT (15-17)-P-P, Melody Bi held Ax Ax Qxx KQJ10xx. Luckily, she was playing that a double was for penalties. The opponents had nowhere to run. Her partner led a heart, and dummy was bereft. She knocked out the A, got in with the A, and eventually took nine tricks for +800. At the other table, her counterparts weren't playing penalty doubles. Eight tricks would be the limit in notrump on a normal spade lead. They stopped in a partial, but that was a big loss.

Melody's team had a 36-imp lead at halftime of the final, but Rich's team came roaring back in the second half to win the match. Sorry, I have no deals from this match, as I was playing in the Swiss.

Speaking of which, consider the following noteworthy occurrence in that Flight A Swiss. I was South.

 West         AJ10xxx  East
  AJxxx      x         xx
  xx         Q10xxx    xxx
  xxxx                  KJ10xx
  Jxx       South       Axx
 North  East   South   West   
 Pass   Pass   1*     Pass
 2*    Double 2      Pass
 4*    Pass   5      Pass
 6     Pass   Pass    Pass

My one club was strong, and I alerted 2 as a game force with hearts. 4 was Kickback, and I showed two keycards with the Q. In the old days, you only had to count four aces, but nowadays there are five, a subtle point lost on this partner, who was tired after a long week. However, West followed his partner's suggestion and led a diamond. Away went dummy's Q, and that was 980!

I was playing in the Swiss because we lost a Knockout match to Bob Bertoni, Neil and Brenda Montague, and Bob Gorsey, by 2 imps. In that match two declarers had a chance in 3NT here:


The opening lead of the J went to the K, A, and 8, and the 2 was returned to the 9 and 10. Note that, if you win with dummy's Q, the AKQJ1098 are all gone, bringing dummy's 64 into play. With only the combined 753 outstanding, the defense can only cash two more spades when they win the A if West has the 3 and East 75. Meanwhile, you will have eight tricks if you dislodge the A now. Deep Finesse can surely make 3NT by guessing either clubs or hearts, but you don't get to peek. Clearly, it's better to go after clubs than hearts, because if the opponents can't cash two spades, you make 3NT on power even if you lose to the J. It is safer to finesse the 9 into East, the non-danger hand, but there's a fly in that ointment. If East started with five spades and AJ, he can win J, clear spades, and you have no time for any club trick and must therefore guess hearts.

There is a quite different way to play the hand. Duck the second spade and win the third, discarding a club, and cash three rounds of diamonds ending in dummy. Now exit with the fourth round of spades, pitching your last diamond. If diamonds are 3-2 and spades 4-3, you make 3NT without guessing either clubs or hearts. If diamonds are 4-1, you can either exit in spades as planned and hope whoever wins doesn't have a diamond exit, or you can revert to knocking out the A and then guessing hearts. One upside to that line is that there may be no third round of spades. West could have J10, or if he has J10753, he may not realize you won't finesse the 6 if he continues. The full deal was:

 West        A106     East
  J103      AK83      A752
  8742      Q9        Q53
  974                  102
  J62      South       A753

As you can see, you make 3NT by finessing either the 9 or the J, or by ducking the second spade. Both declarers won the spade and led a club to the Q, however. East won and returned a club, and both declarers finessed, then lost two spade tricks for down one.

Here's an interesting play problem I faced in a Compact KO match:

 West   North  East    South   
 Pass   Pass   Pass    1
 2     2     3      3
 Pass   3     Pass    4
 Pass   Pass   Pass

West led the A-3-4-8, and continued 6-5-K. I ruffed with the 3, led the 6 to dummy's A, both following, and finessed the J. West discarded a diamond.

This is one of those trump coup situations in which you have the entries to shorten yourself, but not to get back to dummy afterwards. There are two big chances to make 4. One is to play West for the A - lead towards the K now. The other is that East is the defender who started with longer diamonds. To play for that, cross to the Q, ruff the 10 to reduce yourself to just the K10, and cash three diamonds, then exit with a heart.

Can you combine these chances? Well, sort of. If you try the trump coup line and East ruffs the last diamond, you'll still get to try for the K if East is out of clubs, West having something like x Axx xxx AQxxxx. But otherwise, West (from, say, x Axx xxxx AQxxx), will pitch a heart on the fourth diamond and another on the K, to take the last two tricks with A and Q. If you try a heart to the HK immediately, you will get to try the trump coup unless East tops the K with the A, cashes a heart, and returns a passive diamond, leaving you with one too many trumps.

I misguessed. After the J won, I led a heart to the J, K, and A. However, East erred, returning a diamond. So, I won dummy's Q, ruffed the third club, ran my diamonds (East had four), and exited with my heart to pull off my trump coup. This was a pickup because my teammates gave declarer no chance in the same contract at the other table. They never forced declarer with clubs. They just played diamonds, and declarer could never pick up East's Q.

Have a good summer everybody, and see you at the Fiesta Regional in Warwick RI.