Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Three No Trump vs Broomlands

I played the hand below in 3NT in an aggregate teams match, West led the jack of hearts, East playing the 7. What's you plan (and which ♥ did you use to win trick one, assuming you won it?)

I won and ran the ♠Q, which was covered on my left. My plan now was to cash all the ♠ and ♥ winners, and exit with a ♥, making whenever the spades are 4-3 and either the diamonds are 3-3 or the diamond honours are in different hands (and in the unlikely case that the ♥s are 3-3), and also in some edge cases where the defence don't have the entries to cash their tricks. 

When I gave the hand to Phil Stephens, his first plan was to immediately play a ♦ to the 10, (or I guess a ♦ to the 9) although he's since discussed it with a few people, and come round to taking the ♠ finesse, I think because it's hard to see a route to 9 tricks if you can't make 3 tricks in ♠s. 

One interesting point he brought up was that one of the dangers with taking the ♠ finesse is that against good defence, you still don't know how many ♠ tricks you've got when the Q holds. On this particular hand, I don't think that matters, but it's not something that had immediately occurred to me.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Jackie Josephson

We had a match in the 'JJ' (Jackie Josephson) cup last night. This is a handicap competition, where teams from the lower divisions get a head start of 2000 points per division, and we were playing against Gilmorehill, who are definitely a first division team (with at least 5 recent Scottish internationals playing). 

The hand below caused a few rules discussions at half time, although in the end it didn't really matter too much, as we lost comfortably. 

2♣ was Drury, but it was not alerted. Here is where the first question comes up. I'm pretty certain that Norman would never bid 2NT in response to Drury. Obviously the bid should have some meaning, but Norman has a very strong preference for always playing an 8 card major fit once one is identified, and I just couldn't figure out what 2NT could possibly mean. My bid of 3♥ was sort of a hedge against the possibility that it shows a weak NT, but in practice I knew what was going on (and I'm pretty sure I would have known what was going on even if I was behind a screen) - am I ethically obliged to hang myself by bidding 4♥? Especially when I'm not even sure 4♥ would be the correct bid over whatever 2NT does mean. 

However, that's not the only issue. Looking at Jim's hand (South), he has a pretty safe double of 2♣ for a lead if it is alerted. Absent this information, John led a ♠  which gives away the spade suit, and Norman made 3♥. With the double, you'd have to get the spade right to make 9 tricks in ♥s. However, there isn't really any scenario where Norman gives Jim the information he needs to double, and we still end up bidding to 3♥, so it seem harsh to rule whatever fraction of 3♥-1 you would deem appropriate. Charles suggested a fair ruling would be 2♥ making, which I would definitely have accepted, but in the end, we decided to scrap the board entirely (as another table had been unable to play it due to overhearing the result) so it was all moot.

I'm genuinely not sure what the ruling should have been for either of these things, but I'm glad the match didn't finish with a 10 point gap :)