Squeezing The Dummy

Friday, June 17, 2005

Midnight Tourney With Josh: Part 1

Confession time. I have a hidden love for ACBL tournaments on Bridge Base. These tournaments are run daily and cost a $1 entry fee. They are 12 boards long and in general attract weak fields with some exceptions. For some reason, I just can't get enough of them.

I play a few of these tournaments every week with my partner in crime, Josh Donn. Josh is a good junior player and a friend of mine. We have an amazing record in these tournaments considering how much luck is involved. Our strategy in general is to shoot for a 70 %. In a twelve- board matchpoint tournament that usually attracts 25 or so tables, you really need a big game to win. A lot of risks that you wouldn't take in a four-session tournament need to be taken. We don't take absurd risks, though, just things like playing 3N often with a major suit fit and doubling more frequently. We almost always end up with 1 zero.

Last night we played in the midnight tournament and I decided to document it. I am going to go over every board and show the world how crazy we actually are. Shocking, I know.

Board 1: I picked up AQ87 AJ KJ7652 7 with nobody vulnerable. Not too shabby. I deal and open 1, LHO overcalls 1 and partners X is passed back to me. Being the crazy matchpoint player I am, I really want to bid some amount of NT. Unfortunately, my hand is way too good for 1N, and way too weak for 2N! It falls right between those ranges. My suit is too weak for 3 and I know my spade queen is positioned poorly, so I settle for an uncharacteristic 2. It goes all pass, and I eagerly await dummy. I am happy to see my partner has 92 K964 84 QJ632. Unfortunately, the opponents take all of their tricks so I just make 2.

Result: 54.35 %
Running Average: 54.35%

Board 2: I pick up KQJ3 AJ AQ852 A4 in fourth chair. I get three passes to me and have some options. I can try 1 planning on jump shifting to 2 to try and get my suits in. This could work very well if we have a diamond slam. Otherwise, I could treat my hand as balanced and open 2N or 2 planning on rebidding 2N. I immediately rule out a 2N opener, as my hand is much too good. I have 21 with 5-4 and extremely good honor location. I generally treat these hand types as balanced so I settled on 2 planning on rebbiding 2N after my partners 2 bid. Sure enough he does bid 2 and then follows with 3, a transfer to hearts. After I complete the transfer, he bids 3N offering a choice of games. There is some merit in correcting to 4 despite my doubleton. I have a suit oriented hand, a very strong doubleton, and a weak club holding. I decide against it as partner's hearts may be very weak and NT is where the matchpoints are at after all. I receive the 7 lead and see: 98 QT972 KT73 97. So 4 was better after all, but I have dodged a club lead. The bad guys win the spade lead with the ace and continue with the jack of clubs. How should I continue? Well, first lets test the diamonds. So I cash the A and all follow. I know I'm in a great matchpoint position after that extremely favorable lead so there is no need to finesse the heart. I cross to dummy with the K to lead the Q from dummy trying to induce a cover. When they play small I go up with the ace and make 4. The finesse was indeed off.

Result: 93.48 %
Running Average: 73.92 %

Board 3: I pick up 854 AKJT K86 K95 at favorable vulnerability. In third seat I get 2 passes to me and decide to open 1N. This is not a bid I would usually make but in third seat favorable there are a lot of tactical advantages to this bid. If they want to compete, they have to do it at a higher level than over 1 or 1 . They can be shutout of the auction, and in my experience 1N all pass is the hardest auction to defend against. Besides, my 14 is pretty respectable so it's not too far off. Partner transfers to spades with a 2 bid and follows it with 3N offering you a choice of games. Partner will generally have 5332, 52(42) not concentrated, or 5431 with a stiff honor. Again, 3N is where the money is at so you choose to pass with your 4333. A diamond is led and dummy is pretty shocking to you: AKJT9 874 2 Q832. I really don't care for 3N instead of 3. 3 leaves all possible strains in play and should be able to pinpoint the values needed to play 3N, 4, or even 5. Perhaps partner got caught up in the matchpoint swing of things. Anyways, a very important thing for declarer to do is focus on the task at hand. If you are in a silly contract or don't agree with partners bidding it is not at all relevant to the play. Here there is not much you can do except start finessing. You can afford to check on singleton queens too. So after winning the K, I played a spade to the ace and a heart to the ace. Then spade finesse, heart finesse. Both won! Up to 10 tricks, I cashed major suit winners and the opponents kept too many clubs so I was able to take a club trick as well. Making 5. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good I guess.

Result: 89.13 %
Running Average: 78.99%

Board 4: I pick up AK84 Q754 AK5 A9 in second seat. Man, why don't I get all these hands in rubber bridge? I get to open 2N and partner bids 3. Most people always bid first but I think a better treatment is bidding the stronger major with 4-4. This way if you have 2 4-4 fits you can find the stronger one and be able to sustain bad splits better and maybe pitch losers from your weaker fit on another suit. This is especially true if you have a slam. The only argument for bidding hearts first is that if partner is about to try for slam, his slam try over 3 is 3, while over 3 he would have to bid 4. Obviously the former is more economical. I do not think this argument is nearly as compelling as getting to the stronger trump fit though. So, I reply with 3 and get raised to 4. The A is led and dummy is: QT53 83 Q83 J643. This is one of those junky hands that is routine to bid with over a 2N opener but you don't really love doing it. The opponents continue with the K followed by the J. You noticed your RHO echoed in hearts, and when you ask their carding they tell you it's standard. So it looks like there is a doubleton on your right. You ruff with the ten, hoping the jack is onside. When they can't overruff you know it is. Trumps broke so making 4 was easy from there.

Result: 80.43 %
Running Average: 79.35 %

Part 2 tomorrow.

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