District 25
NEBridge - buzz0710

Buzz for July 2010

I apologize that this column hasn't been updated in over six months, as its author hasn't been able to play or watch much bridge. I was unable to observe any of this year's Grand National Teams finals, two of which I'm told were exciting. I did get to play at least one day at each of the first four District 25 regionals of 2010. Believe me, the work I've been doing hasn't been nearly as enjoyable as tournament bridge is.

Our District Director Rich DeMartino is doing his tour as ACBL president, and by all reports, doing the job well. Our District has had a new president, Bob Erwin, since the beginning of the year. District 25 tournaments have been well-attended, despite a late change of venue for the Cape's Senior Regional in April-May, from South Falmouth out to Chatham. Notably, our Summer Regional in Sturbridge set numerous records for tables in play and masterpoints won.

This month's News reports ten deals from the Flight A Knockout in Sturbridge which began Friday night. Yiji Starr, who was on the winning team, sent me this material. Not only is Yiji a fine player, she keeps good notes. Thank you, Yiji.

The event featured many upsets. By the time Saturday night's semifinals rolled around, all five top seeds in the tough fifteen-team field had been eliminated, leaving the 6, 10, 11, and 12 seeds to fight it out. Yiji writes:

Bill, here are ten interesting deals we played on our way to winning the KO. Not all were good boards for us.


Hand #1, First round, East dealer, East-West vul.
 West        D-Jxx       East
 S-xxxx      C-xx        S-x
 H-AKx                   H-Qx
 D-Qx        South       D-K109xxx
 C-Jxxx      S-AQJx      C-AKQx
 South  West   North  East
 -      -      -      1D
 Dbl    1S     P      2C
 P      3C     P      3D
 P      3NT    P      P


We misbid. Do you agree with the 3NT bid? I won the heart lead and played a diamond off the board, but John Malley, sitting South, rose his DA and cashed four spades for down one. We lost 13 imps because Victor King and Sheila Gabay bid to 5C at the other table.


Hand #2, First round, South dealer, Both vul.
 West        D-xxx       East
 S-KJxx      C-Axxxx     S-10xx
 H-KJ10xxx               H-Axx
 D-Q10x      South       D-
 C-          S-Axxx      C-QJ10xxxx
 South  West   North  East
 1D     1H     1NT    2D
 3D     3H     P      P
 4D     4H     P      P


I regretted my 3H underbid as soon as I made it, so I changed my mind next round. This was a play problem for me. I decided South had the SA, so I ruffed the diamond lead in dummy, led a spade to SK, D ruff, C ruff, D ruff, spade. South rose SA crashing SQ, so 4H made, but even if he ducks, I can duck also and lose only 2 spades and a trump. Nor does it avail South to rise with his SA on the first lead from dummy to play a trump. He would cut down ruffs, but then I could pick up both majors.

The other table auction:

South  West   North  East
 1D     1H     1NT    2H
 3NT    P      P      P


With diamonds not coming in, 3NT went down 2, but we won 9 imps.


Hand #3, Second round, South dealer, East-West vul.
 West        D-KQx       East
 S-AK8x      C-xx        S-Jx
 H-Qxx                   H-Ax
 D-J         South       D-Axxxx
 C-J10xxx    S-xxx       C-AQxx
 South  West   North  East
 P      P      P      1D
 P      1S     P      2C
 P      3NT    P      P


North led a low heart, ducked to the HK. South, Luke Gillespie, found an excellent winning shift to the D10. When the club finesse lost, the defense had five tricks.

At the other table, East opened 1NT and played 3NT. South did well not to lead a heart, as against that declarer can win dummy's HQ and take a losing club finesse that establishes nine tricks. After South led the D10, however, East ducked and North continued diamonds, so declarer got home with the fifth diamond instead of the HQ.


Hand #4, Second round, North dealer, Both vul.
 West        D-x         East
 S-A87xx     C-10xxxx    S-9
 H-x                     H-KJ10xx
 D-J10xx     South       D-Q8xx
 C-9xx       S-KQJxx     C-KJx
 South  West   North  East
 -      -      P      P
 1S     P      1NT    P
 3D     P      3S     P
 3NT    P      P      P


At my table, Rena Lieberman, East, led the HJ to Mel Marcus's HQ. The S10 lost to the SA, and I returned a spade. Mel ducked the D7 to Rena's D8 She continued diamonds, and Mel took dummy's spades. Rena eventually threw a diamond, and Mel let me have the fifth spade. I exited a diamond, but Mel threw me back in with a fourth diamond. So I had to lead a club into dummy's AQ for 9 tricks. After the hand, Rena and I complimented Mel on his play, but pointed out that any novice could make the hand since the club finesse was winning all along.

At the other table, after a similar auction, East avoided the fatal heart lead, but chose an obscure card - the CJ. Marina rose the CA, to knock out the SA. The defense continued CK, club, and when the suit broke 3-3, Marina had ten tricks for an imp to us.

A diamond lead is best, but who would find that?


Hand #5, Second round, East dealer, Neither vul.
 West        D-Kxxx      East
 S-AKQxx     C-xxx       S-J10xxx
 H-Kx                    H-
 D-xx        South       D-Axx
 C-QJ10x     S-x         C-AKxxx
 South  West   North  East
 -      -      -      1S
 3H     4NT    5H     6H
 P      6S     P      P


This was a funny deal - we had a bidding misunderstanding. I had such good trumps as West that I doubted Rena would cooperate with a 4H slam try, so I took control with Blackwood, despite lacking any control in either minor. In competition over Blackwood, we play DEPO: double with an even number of key cards, pass with an odd number. I decided Rena's unusual 6H bid showed one key card and a void, because I thought 5NT would be 2 key cards and a void. Later, Rena apologized, saying she had miscounted her hand as three keys and a void (she mistakenly counted the CK), and thought 6H showed that.

Suppose we agreed 5NT showed two keys and a void. Would you invite seven over 5NT as West? How?


Hand #6, Semifinals, West dealer, North-South vul.
 Suppose you, East in third seat, hold:

   S-J10xx H-1098x D-A C-AQxx and hear one of these auctions.
 South  West   North  East
 -      P      1D     P
 1S     P      3D     P
 5D     P      P      P
 South  West   North  East
 -      P      1D     P
 1S     P      3D     P
 4D     P      4NT    P
 5D     P      P      P

In the second auction, 4D was asking, and 4NT showed one key card. This is one of those leads which is more easily made when it's given as a problem. At the bar after the game Saturday night, everybody got it right, but at the table both Easts led a fatal H10, and lost their CA:

 West        D-QJxxxxx   East
 S-AQx       C-Kx        S-J10xx
 H-Jxxx                  H-1098x
 D-          South       D-A
 C-J10xxxx   S-Kxxxx     C-AQxx

5D made for a push. I now believe you should lead the ace of trumps to see the dummy and hold the lead.



Hand #7, Semifinals, West dealer, Both vul.
 West        D-K872      East
 S-Q76x      C-AQx       S-K
 H-K109xxxx              H-QJx
 D-9         South       D-AQ1064
 C-J         S-AJ10xx    C-10xxx
 South  West   North  East
 -      P      1D     P
 1S     P      1NT    P
 2C     P      2S     P
 4S     P      P      P


Against the same contract at the other table, my counterpart led the singleton diamond, and East played three rounds for a ruff. West got the SQ later for down one.

I tried a tapping defense by leading a heart. Declarer won dummy's ace, discarding a diamond, and played S9 to SK and SA, then a low spade towards the S8. I won my SQ, and Rena discarded the D6, encouraging as we play. A diamond switch would still have been good enough. Declarer could ruff high on the third diamond, but lacks the entries to unblock trumps and draw mine. But I continued hearts, and declarer ruffed, drew trumps, and ran clubs. In retrospect, my defense was wrong. If Rena has diamonds, declarer wouldn't have much of a 4S bid without long clubs ready to run.


Hand #8, Finals, North dealer, Neither vul.
 West        D-AKQxxxx   East
 S-Q109xx    C-Kxxx      S-KJ87
 H-K109                  H-AJxxx
 D-Jx        South       D-x
 C-Axx       S-Axxx      C-QJx
 South  West   North  East
 -      -      1D     Dbl
 1S     Dbl    3D     3S
 P      4S     P      P


This contract is unremarkable. Declarer eventually guessed the HQ and made it. What is interesting, and uncommon, is bidding game in a suit first mentioned by a non-psyching opponent. My double just says I would have bid spades if South hadn't. It's not really about a penalty - the opponents will surely be safe enough somewhere else. But doubling 1S alerts partner to spades as a possible trump suit for our side, and Rena got the message. Make sure you and your partner agree on this.


Hand #9, Finals, West dealer, Both vul.
 West        D-QJxx      East
 S-          C-x         S-Axxx
 H-Q9xx                  H-Kxx
 D-Kxx       South       D-xxx
 C-J10xxxx   S-xxx       C-Axx
 South  West   North  East
 -      P      2S     P
 2NT    P      4S     P
 P      P


Rena led a diamond, which declarer ducked in dummy. The opponents were showing features over 2NT. North showed none, but jumped to game. I decided Rena had the CA and HK, switched to a heart, and beat 4S. Declarer could have made the contract by rising at trick one and playing dummy's CK, establishing a club to pitch a heart. Do you think that's the best way to declare the hand? I'm not sure.


Hand #10, Finals.
 West        D-K         East
 S-8xx       C-xx        S-K1095
 H-xxx                   H-Q10x
 D-Q32       South       D-J75
 C-Qxxx      S-xx        C-Jxx

My last deal isn't about a bid or play, but a ruling. West led the S8 against South's 4NT contract. Declarer chose to rise SA, cash DK, cross to CA, and cash the DA. On the two rounds of diamonds, West played the D2, then the D3, while East played D7 and D5.


After this fourth trick, Declarer asked East what kind of count they played and East responded, "We play standard count." What he didn't say was that East-West were playing Smith Echo. For readers who don't know it, in Smith Echo, the first signal relates not to the suit in play, but gives attitude about the suit of the opening lead. West was saying he didn't like spades, and East was saying he did. After some thought, declarer took the heart finesse and went down one. A third diamond instead would have yielded ten tricks.

Eight boards later, after the comparison, South discovered the true situation, called the director, and argued that he had been misled. Even though East had answered the question, "What kind of count do you play?" truthfully, the director ruled that East was obliged to reveal that East-West were using Smith Echo. He corrected the score to 4NT making, and informed East-West they could not appeal this ruling, as it was a question of ACBL regulations, not a bridge question.

Fortunately, the ruling on this deal didn't decide the final. A subsequent inquiry to the ACBL received a reply from Ricky Beye, a national director, stating that this ruling is correct. I include the deal here so that readers will realize that in reponse to any inquiry about signalling, the defenders must reveal their entire method, at least as it relates to the deal in question. Declarer is entitled to know.

Thanks again for this account, Yiji. See you, and hopefully all readers of this column, at our Labor Day Fiesta Regional in Nahua. Click to our calendar page for details.

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