Advanced Lesson 3 – Balancing Seat Bids for Duplicate Bridge Players

Next up on our journey navigating competitive bids, we switch gears and turn our attention to balancing seat bids.   Sometimes your partner has a nice hand but simply does not have the correct shape to make an overcall (suit bid or a takeout double).  In situations like this as well as followup bidding, when you are in the passout seat it’s often time to “borrow a King” from partner and keep the auction alive and competitive (two passes so far and the auction goes to the opponents unless you make a call).   Just remember that when partner made a call in passout seat, resist the urge to punish partner by then advancing the bidding to the 3 level.   In this lesson we also demonstrate the inadequacy holding a Jack-doubleton (including Ace-Jack).   We will also take a look at competing when Left Hand Opponent opens 1 Notrump and you are in the passout seat – time to use Mel Colchamiro’s “Rule of 2” (guideline), responder’s “Stayman double” after RHO overcalls 2 Club, a tip on how to avoid an endplay when LHO has a trump stack sitting behind you, as well as the classic distribution when to try a “strip and endplay.”

By the way, Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy prior Advanced Lesson segments as well as the Social Lessons (covering Major Suit Raises in the first 3 lessons).  Better yet, check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

Click here to view Teaser – Hand 1 of 5

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view entire 41 minute video

We hope you enjoy the show!

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Happy Trails,

BridgeHand

Advanced Lesson 2 – Freebids in Competitive Auctions in Duplicate Bridge

Continuing our journey navigating competitive bids, we take another look at what can go right and wrong when bidding in the direct and balancing seat.   When use wisely, freebids help us show partner additional length or side-suit values, while balancing seat bids in the passout seat are all about hand-to-hand competitive bidding – mano-a-mano.  In this lesson we also compare and contrast allowing the competitors to win the auction in the event they overbid, making a seemingly odd Notrump balancing predicated on the opponents and partners bidding, underscoring the difference between a chunky 5 card suit with top honors versus a hand with spread honors and much more.

By the way, Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy both lesson segments as well as the Social Part 2 lesson on Major Suit Raises, one hand which also touching on competitive bidding and freebids.  Better yet, check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

Click here to view Teaser – Hand 1 of 6

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view entire 43 minute video

We hope you enjoy the show!

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Happy Trails,

BridgeHands

Advanced Lesson 1 – Freebids in Competitive Auctions in Duplicate Bridge

As promised, we are beginning the new year with shorter, more frequent lessons for the social and advanced players.  Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy both lesson segments.

In our advanced lesson, we delve into competitive bidding – contrasting freebids from balancing seat bids in the passout seat.  We will explore when not to make a negative double, “The Law” of Total Tricks, misfits, using the Rule of 10 to consider penalizing mischievous opponents and other provocative topics.

Click here to view Teaser

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view entire 35 minute video

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Happy Trails,

BridgeHands

2010 Fall NABC: Senior KO, Board 57

Board 57 Senior KO Round 4 of 4

Going into Board 57, the Knock Out match was neck and neck.   But still waters can only last so long and on this hand the sparks flew on both tables.   With favorable vulnerability, how do you feel about a preemptive 2 Heart opening bid in first seat with 2=5=4=2 shape?  Well, Bob Hamman’s the bid ultimately drove the opponents to a 4 Spade contract they ultimately would not have chanced.

At least that’s what partner Zia believed when he doubled Bates 4 Spade bid.  When partner preempts but then leads another suit, most often it’s a singleton and pard is looking for an immediate ruff.  But recall Hamman’s shape was 2=5=4=2 so the lead of the Club 8 was from a doubleton.  Zia, believing Bob Hamman was short returned the Club Ace – but it turned out declarer Bates held the stiff Club, leading to a ruff of Zia’s Ace.  Ouch, any return other than the Ace or a Diamond sets the contract.   Playing double dummy is sooo much easier than only seeing half the cards after long hours of grueling play.  Do you think when Bob and Zia went to sleep that night they both wish the opening lead would have been the top of sequence Diamond 10?  Might that lead have come if Zia didn’t risk the double of 4 Spades?  Did the dark angel wisper for Zia to return the Club Ace instead of the neutral Spade Queen?  Questions, questions, questions – that’s what keeps us Bridge-types going…

So when the dust settled in the Open Room, Bates chalked up 790, 4 Spades doubled, making and vulnerable.  Let’s look at the action before going to the other table…

Board 57
North Deals
E-W Vul

♠ 9 6
♥ A Q J 8 3
♦ 10 9 8 6
♣ 8 6

♠ J 10 8 7 5 3
♥ 6 4 2
♦ A 7 5
♣ 7

N

W

 

E

S

♠ A K 4
♥ K 10 9
♦ Q 4 3
♣ K J 10 4

 

♠ Q 2
♥ 7 5
♦ K J 2
♣ A Q 9 5 3 2

West

North

East

South

Bates

Hamman

Wold

Zia

 

2 ♥

2 N

3 ♥

3 ♠

Pass

4 ♠

Dbl

Pass

Pass

Pass

4 ♠ x by West

Trick

Lead

2nd

3rd

4th

1. N

♣ 8

J

Q

7

2. S

♣ A

♠ 7

6

4

3. W

♠ 5

6

A

2

4. E

♠ K

Q

3

9

5. E

♣ K

2

♦ 5

♥ 8

6. E

♣ 10

3

♦ 7

♥ 3

7. E

♦ 3

J

A

6

8. W

♥ 4

A

9

5

9. N

♦ 10

Q

K

♠ 8

Meanwhile, in the other room, Drewski also opened 2 Hearts holding the 2=5=4=2 shape.  Does that make your head spin just a bit?  Again, this was followed by a 2 Notrump balancing bid by Ekeblad.  However, this time South (Krekorian) quietly passed.  And sitting West, Rubin, jumped to 4 Hearts – a Texas Transfer to 4 Spades by Ekeblad.  So this time the lead came from the other side of the table, with the Notrump bidder’s hand closed.

Normally, playing the strong hand as declarer is good for about a trick.  But not so on this hand.  Krekorian was not about to lead his unprotected Club Ace, instead leading the normal high Heart 7 from doubleton.   So this time, seeing the dummy’s exact shape (singleton Club and 5 red suit losers, the defenders got all their due tricks to set declarer Ekeblad by 2 tricks, down 200.

So much for still waters with a 990 point swing to the O’Rourke team over Meltzer’s boys.  Here’s the board in the Closed Room.

Board 57
North Deals
E-W Vul

♠ 9 6
♥ A Q J 8 3
♦ 10 9 8 6
♣ 8 6

♠ J 10 8 7 5 3
♥ 6 4 2
♦ A 7 5
♣ 7

N

W

 

E

S

♠ A K 4
♥ K 10 9
♦ Q 4 3
♣ K J 10 4

 

♠ Q 2
♥ 7 5
♦ K J 2
♣ A Q 9 5 3 2

West

North

East

South

Rubin

Drewski

Ekeblad

Krekorian

 

2 ♥

2 N

Pass

4 ♥

Pass

4 ♠

Pass

Pass

Pass

4 ♠ by East

Trick

Lead

2nd

3rd

4th

1. S

♥ 7

2

J

K

2. E

♠ A

2

3

6

3. E

♠ K

Q

7

9

4. E

♣ K

A

7

8

5. S

♥ 5

4

Q

9

6. N

♥ A

T

♣ 2

6

7. N

♦ 10

Q

K

A

8. W

♦ 5

6

3

2

9. N

♦ 9

4

J

7

And so as the evening went on, and On, and ON – the play was EXTREMELY slow.  Eventually even  the Director couldn’t resist chiding the players to do *something* with the play running late and hour our two after most mortals would finish.  But at the end of a critical and close team KO game, mortals are all tucked in their beds.   Yet the momentum began swinging with this pivotal board with the O’Rourke team winning the match by a modest margin.   And on the next evening, they outright clobbered their opponents to win all the gold.   Well done – great play to the team who seemed to defy gravity!  And who said the out-of-town “away team” gets sleepy, anyway?

Epilogue – While many viewers probably nod their head if partner makes a preemptive 2 Heart call with 2=5=4=2, top players use advanced hand evaluation and tend to “mix it up” a bit when conditions are right.  Here’s some of their considerations:

1. Favorable vulnerability – check
2. First seat (better than second seat) – check
3. Positive shape (5-4-2-2 better than 5-3-3-2) – check
4. Four card suit suit not a major – check
5.  Ideal strength (7-8 losers) – check
6. Top players in the world – check

And as we have witnessed in a top team game, it’s “mano-a-mano” which helps explain why both players opened 2 Hearts.  In fact it was Bob Hamman who once explained the following difference between an IMP and Matchpoint duplicate Bridge game (not an exact quote):

“… In a team IMP game, it’s like two prize fighting boxers going at it for 15 rounds with the best man left standing.   However, in a Matchpoint game, you put the two prize fighters in the ring with a bunch of lunatics…”

2010 ACBL NABC Orlando: Senior Knockout, R16, 4 of 4, Board 55 Hamman and Zia

2010 Senior KO R16 Segment 4 of 4

Board 55 in the final session was a big swing board for Bob Hamman and Zia, playing on the Meltzer Senior Knockout Team.  First, here’s the hands, bidding, later a review of the disasterous play.  Please click on the topic title “2010 ACBL…” to view our comments.

Board 55
South Deals
Both Vul

♠ 3
K Q 9 5 4
6 5 2
♣ K Q 9 2

♠ 2
J 6 3 2
K J 10 7 3
♣ A 8 5

N

W

E

S

♠ A Q 10 9 8 7 6 5
10 8
9 4
♣ 6

♠ K J 4
A 7
A Q 8
♣ J 10 7 4 3

West

North

East

South

Zia

Hanna

Hamman

Lebi

1 ♣

1

2

4 ♠

Dbl

Pass

Pass

Pass

4 ♠ x by East

Trick

Lead

2nd

3rd

4th

1. S

A

2

5

8

2. S

A

3

6

4

3. S

8

K

2

9

4. W

J

5

♠ 10

Q

5. E

♠ 5

4

2

3

6. E

♠ A

J

3

♣ 2

7. E

♣ 6

3

A

9

8. W

7

4

10

♠ K

Made 4 — +790

At the Bridge Table – True Confessions

The Beat: American Contract Bridge League Sectional Tournament, Saturday, California Bay Area

The Game: Its the start of the second session playing “A level” competitors

The Board: We’re on the second hand of the first round

The Bidding: With favorable vulnerability partner passes and RHO opens 1 Spade

 

P – (1S) – ?

Dealer: North
Vul: East/West

Pass

 

1 Spade

 

9 6

K J 10 9 7 6 3 2

9 3

2

Partner prefers day games and after breaking several hours between sessions, we’re hopeful the evening game won’t drag on with slow play.  Our opponents are pleasant Scandinavian chaps.  You know the variety – very friendly, yet after the hand is over you are left scratching your head wondering how you ended up with a bottom board.  Never underestimate any Bridge player who comes from a climate with cold weather; they have way too much time on their hands and they all play like foxes.

Holding South’s hand, it looks as though the opponents have an easy vulnerable game, perhaps a run for a small slam. Bidding some number of Hearts will likely stoke the fire for the opponents.   Probably the rest of the field will overcall 4 Hearts, with the opponents winding up in either a black suit game, slam, or perhaps a high-level Notrump contract.

My partner and I tend to “hit the ball down the center of the fairway” avoiding mastermind bids.  But for some reason on this hand, I just couldn’t resist throwing in a dreaded psych bid.  And so I plunged into the deep dark, dreaded underworld bidding 1 Notrump – in tempo, of course.

Needless to say, my LHO was perplexed to say the least.  After about 15 seconds, my partner was kindly asked our Notrump overcall range: “Yes, we play a standard 15-17 HCP range”  was the response. After pondering some more, LHO delivers the expected “balance of power” double for penalty.

At this point, the plot thickens.  My partner has several thousand masterpoints and always bids in tempo, avoid hesitations, and never inadvertently provides me unauthorized information – at least not until this hand.  You see, when you never make a psychic bid partner most likely thinks its the OPPONENT who has made a psyche or bizarre call.

And so the torture begins, partner begins to grab a pass card, then seems to be looking for the redouble card, then her hand pulls away from the bidding box – oh oh, this auction is not going to be pretty.  After some time, partner again heads for the front of the bidding box, fumbles a bit, again withdrawing and pulls… THREE NOTRUMP!

Within a few seconds my RHO who opened 1 Spade soundly pulls his double bid from the bidding box, softly placing it on the table.  The opponents are truly too kind, not calling for the director after my partner’s tortured bid (all my fault, I might add).

And so as they say, “the chickens have come home to roost” and I’m back in the hot seat.   Well, playing an occasional online Goulash Bridge game where every hand has wild distribution (only surpassed by wild players on EVERY hand in every game), I felt well prepared to recover from my dirty bid.   And so after evaluating my hand about 5-7 seconds, I placed my 4 Heart bid on the table.   As an aside, good players at this level seldom miss observing any kind of “tell” by an opponent as so I’m using my best theatrical performance to act like an android as I withdraw 4 Hearts from the bidding box in normal tempo, placing it on the table in a movement that’s not too smooth, not exhibiting an obvious “hitch” and not letting my eyes waiver from normal behavior.  So how did I do?

In similar even cadence to my RHO (East) double of partner’s 3 Notrump call, now my LHO places his red “x” double smoothly on the table.  He’s got us on the run, or so he thinks.  But wait, there’s more!  Partner tanks holding the following:


 

P – (1S) – 1N! – (X);
3N – (X) – 4H! – (X);
?

Dealer: North
Vul: East/West

A 10

4

7 5 3

A Q 9 7 6 5 3

 


 

9 6

K J 10 9 7 6 3 2

9 3

2

Yup, you guessed it – partner still believes my initial 1 Notrump call and in an attempt to save the auction bids… 5 Clubs!  Well, needless to say East no longer wastes any time doubling that contract.  Ditto here – there’s not much sense for any feeble attempts to pull off  “Oscar award-winning” theatrics and so my 5 Heart bid hits the table in the same cadence and enthusiasm as RHOs double.   LHO doubles and by this time partner has worked out my sorted psych, passing out the auction.

After the dust settled, we’re down a few tricks but with favorable vulnerability and opponents missing a Spade, Notrump or Diamond suit game we score very good results (not that our performance deserved it).   By the way, I agree with my partner’s disciplined pass as opposed to opening 3 Clubs in first seat with an outside suit Ace.  Outside Aces at the 2 level are fine but at the 3 level don’t seem to make sense.  If a player has an Ace and the requisite “two of top three” honors in the preempt suit, than either open at the 1 level or pass; with any kind of fit, the hand rates as a 6 or 7 Losing Trick Count holding.  In the postmortem, partner and I have had several discussions about psychic bids and when I “might” use a rapier psych bid in the future (see http://www.bridgehands.com/P/psychic_bid.htm).   In retrospect, we both agreed the errant bid did indeed have one positive attribute – after my wayward bid neither of us were a bit sleepy the rest of the evening session and we ended up just a nose out of first place in our direction.   Still, psychic bid are probably best served (or instigated) at the end of a session… if at all.

2010 World Bridge Series Championship Finals – Open Pairs

Here’s another interesting hand, fresh from the pros at the World Bridge Series open pairs event.  Our defending champions, Fu Zhong and Jack Jie Zhao, demonstrated that China has skills far beyond their manufacturing skills.  In pairs games, every extra trick can make a huge difference in the scoring.  So when partnership’s do not have an 8 card major fit, pairs regularly stretch to enjoy the trick score benefits of playing in a notrump contract.   Accordingly, on this hand Jack, playing North’s hand, thoughtfully rebid 1 Notrump rather than 2 Hearts with his 5=4=2=2 shape.  Do you see why he chose this approach?

Dealer : South
1D – 1S;
1N – All pass

_A 9 6 3 2
_10 7 5 3
_Q 2
_K 2

_Q 5 4
_Q J 8
_A 9
_Q 10 8 7 3


_Lead: C7

_K 10 7
_K 9 6 2
_8 6 4 3
_6 4

_J 8
_A 4
_K J 10 7 5
_A J 9 5

Take a second look at North’s honors – with non-working honors that are spread in every suit, rebidding 1 Notrump seems reasonable (although on the downside the partnership might miss a 5-3 Spade fit).  At this point it’s easy sailing for Fu, ultimately winning 3 Clubs, 4 Diamonds 1 Spade and 1 Heart for 150 points.  So while many other players holding the pair’s 5=4=2=2 and 2=2=5=4 shape tended to rebid their shape, Fu and Jack scored high marks for analyzing their spread honors.

You can see this and another of their interesting hands here as well as a link to the bulletins of the entire 16 day session here.

Intermediate & Advanced #12: Cover Cards, Losing Trick Count – Part II

Free subscriptions to our eMagazine newsletter are available here.

In issue #12 of our Intermediate-Advanced newsletter, we continue our exploration of advanced hand evaluation using Losing Trick Count (LTC).  Having looked at opener’s LTC methods, we will turn our attention to responder’s hand evaluation methodology and opener’s follow-up bidding.  Recall that making suit contracts is all about suit length and quick tricks with primary controls (Aces and Kings).  While LTC calculations still works for responder, we will learn using “Cover Cards” is a far quicker method to effectively evaluate bids. And Cover Card hand evaluation is particularly effective when considering game and slam bids.

Quiz yourself here on Cover Cards. (a 4MB music audio is attached – please allow time to load)

Also in this newsletter, we will check out an Appeal at the Washington DC NABC.  And like our last newsletter, again we will focus on what can go wrong when declarer makes a generalized claim without stating a specific line of play.

Note: Viewing the hands below requires your EMAIL reader to use “fixed fonts” (not proportional). If you have problems reading this document, please view our online web-based copy or Adobe Acrobat PDF file suitable for printing.

2010 World Bridge Series Championship Finals – Rosenblum Cup

So after two weeks of grueling Bridge play, the 2010 World Bridge Series Championship Finals are in with Bobby Levin and Steve Weinstein taking home the gold.  And while Zia Mahmoon and Eric Rodwell didn’t fare quite so well, leave it to Zia keep Bridge as exciting as ever.

 Board 8
Dealer: West
VUL:  None

 J 8 2
Q 10 8 4 3 2
9
Q 7 6

 —
6
A K Q J 8 4 3 2
A K J 5

 10 9 7 6 5 3
9 5
10 7 5
10 4

 A K Q 4
A K J 7
6
9 8 3 2

At first it looked like Zia would bid like a mortal, opening 1 Diamond and actually passing South’s double in passout seat.  But after North responded 1 Heart and partner Eric bid 1 Spade with East’s cards, things started getting interesting.  South responded 3 Hearts and in Zia’s true form he actually bid 4 Spades!  No, that’s not a misprint. Yes, we know, we know, Zia has a Spade void – but you forget, this *IS* Zia after all.  Next went 5 Hearts by North so what do you think Zia bid next?  Would you believe 5 Spades?  Well, we didn’t think so either but that’s what the recorder shows.  So now we’re in utter disbelief, too!  Of course, South just couldn’t resist the urge to double 5 Spades – could you?   Well after South’s (Louk Verhees) double, Zia was able to complete his “rapier psyche” (thrust and retreat), rebidding 6 Diamonds – promptly doubled by South.   And the lead was… drum roll please… the lead is the… low Club 6.  Zia inserted the winning 10 from the dummy, pulled trump, playing three more rounds of Clubs and pitching Hearts in dummy to make 13 tricks for 1190 points (69 of 70 matchpoints).  Who said Bridge is a boring game.  And our sympathies to Ricco van Prooijen sitting North.  Leading a Heart will keep the declarer from making an undeserved overtrick, ensuring a much sounder sleep.  Just ask us – been there, own that tee shirt.
http://www.bridgehands.com/Tournaments/WBF/2010_World_Bridge_Championship/Bul_15.pdf

In addition to the prestigious Rosenblum Cup Knockouts, competion included: World Mixed Pairs, World Women Knockout Teams (for the McConnell Cup), World Senior Knockout Teams (for the Rand Cup), GENERALI World Open Pairs, GENERALI World Women Pairs, World Senior Pairs (for the Hiron Trophy), World Mixed Swiss Teams, and World Junior Championship.  To see the daily bulletins, see:

http://www.bridgehands.com/Tournaments/WBF/2010_World_Bridge_Championship/index.htm

Saturday, October  2, 2010       Sunday, October 3, 2010          Monday, October 4, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010         Wednesday, October 6, 2010   Thursday, October 7, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010             Saturday, October 9, 2010       Sunday, October 10, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010     Tuesday, October 12, 2010      Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010     Friday, October 15, 2010        Saturday, October 16, 2010
Saturday Evening, October 17, 2010

Many thanks to the WBF for running a great tournament and sharing their exciting bulletins.   For more details, please see the WorldBridge website

 Board 8
Dealer: West
VUL:  None

 J 8 2
Q 10 8 4 3 2
9
Q 7 6

 —
6
A K Q J 8 4 3 2
A K J 5

 10 9 7 6 5 3
9 5
10 7 5
10 4

 A K Q 4
A K J 7
6
9 8 3 2

Compare your Bridge bidding with pros in World Bridge Series – Rosenblum Cup

On Friday, October 15, 2010 Bridge professionals duked it out in the World Bridge Series Rosenblum Cup tournament. Check out how you would bid hands in comparison to Eric Rodwell – Jeff Meckstroth, Fred Gitelman – Mike Moss, Geoff Hampson – Eric Greco, Bob Hammon – Zia Mahmood. And to amuse yourself, compare variance how THEY bid and played some challenging hands – beginning at page 6:

http://www.worldbridge.org/bulletin/10_1%20Philadelphia/pdf/Bul_14.pdf