NEBridge - buzz0108


District 25 News for January 2008

Hail to the Chief

District 25 has a new administration. Congratulations to New England President

Roy Green, who succeeds outgoing Allan Clamage, with Rhode Island's Bob Erwin assuming Roy's vice presidential spot. Roy is long on bridge administration experience, having worked high in the ACBL's Memphis headquarters, as president of EMBA, and in District 25. Hopefully having an experienced District president will help us have a successful 2008 Fall Nationals. Roy and his wife Mary are also Flight A players, using the Precision system. If you play in New England sectionals and regionals, sooner or later you'll move to their table.

Buzz from the Individual in Newton MA

On January 4-6 2008, District 25 held its first and shortest regional, the usual Newton Individual. We had a big tournout, and parking was difficult at the Marriott, with overflow cars taking spots of questionable legality across the street Friday night. The Directors called out license plate numbers for those threatened with towing.

Besides the chance to compete in one of the world's few championship individuals, Newton usually offers big draws in the Knockouts which start Friday evening. This year was no exception - our top bracket consisted of nineteen teams and required five rounds through Sunday evening to complete, making it likely to be the District's largest Flight A Knockout of the year.

Suppose they deal you a luscious S-AKQ8 H-Q D-AKQ109 C-Q107 and, wonder of wonders, partner opens 1C. After lengthy inquiry, you discover he holds a 12-14 notrump, four spades, two aces, and the heart king but not the club king. Since you're looking at all four queens, you know he has one to three jacks, but you have no means of determining which ones he's got. You also don't know if he's 4333, 4234, or 4324. If partner's hearts are doubleton and he's missing the CJ, as with S-Jxxx H-AK D-Jxx C-Axxx, no grand slam will have much chance. However, swap that DJ for the HJ, giving him S-Jxxx H-AKJ D-xx C-Axxx, and 7S is a big favorite. In the actual match, one player tried a contract of 6NT, the other 7S. What would you bid?

Partner held S-7632 H-AKJ D-J2 C-A943. No grand slam is cold, but because partner has the DJ and not the SJ, 7NT is a bigger favorite than 7S. If spades don't split, you can try for a crisscross squeeze in the black suits. In practice however, spades broke three-two, and 7S won the match.

Speaking of grand slams, I reached 7S against silent opponents on this deal, receiving a trump lead from West:

.
       North
       S-J
       H-AK1053
       D-A1062
       C-854

       South
       S-AKQ109862
       H-7
       D-Q53
       C-A
           

I counted 12 tricks. Unfortunately, the lead squashed a dummy entry, making heart establishment a long shot. However, three squeeze lines suggested themselves. After drawing trumps, I could (a) cash HAK, ruff a heart, and run my winners, getting home against H-QJx in either hand, or possibly catching West in a positional red suit squeeze if he held the DK and the remaining heart guard, or (b) cash the DA as a Vienna Coup, then run winners to catch either opponent in a red suit squeeze if he held the DK and sole guard of hearts, or (c) retain the DA in dummy, and play for a trump squeeze, which is the only line that works if East held H-Qxxx or Jxxx plus the DK, while West had H-Qxx or Jxx. What would you play for?

 

Delaying as long as possible, I ran five trumps, discarding a heart, a club, and two diamonds from dummy. When West followed to three trumps, I abandoned line (a), since East was now the better target squeezee. After another trump or two, I had to decide between (b) and (c). Even though the trump squeeze requires a guess after the squeeze, it was so much more likely to work that I played for it.

With five cards remaining, I was down to S-x H-x D-Qxx, while dummy held H-AK10x D-A. East's discarding wasn't particularly deceptive, and I nervously guessed, correctly, that he had blanked the DK in the ending. The Vienna Coup would have worked without any guess, since East started with H-J9xxx and DK. Only a heart opening lead defeats 7S legitimately, but a passive club might have seduced me into a losing attempt to trump out hearts. Then again, maybe not, as I'm a squeeze-lover.

Buzz from the Grand National Teams in Sturbridge MA

On January 12-13 2008, District 25 held its qualifier for the Grand National Teams, which will be completed at the Summer NABC in Las Vegas. The District results aren't final yet except in Flight C - see Tournament Results for the Flight C winners and the remaining contestants in the Superflight and Flights A and B. I hope to report some or all of the remaining final matches in detail in upcoming 2008 District 25 News columns.

Round Robin qualifiers on Saturday reduced each field to Knockout rounds on Sunday. In Flight A, there was an interesting ruling. During an auction of 1S-2S*-4H-P-?, responder had asked advancer what the 2S cue bid showed, and was told "spades and a minor".

"You mean hearts and a minor?"

"No, spades and a minor."

Opener now passed 4H, even though responder's 4H bid would normally be a splinter in this partnership. Playing in his singleton, responder went down six tricks with 4S cold his way. Of course, advancer's answer had been misinformation. 2S had indicated hearts and a minor in his partnership, which is what the overcaller held.

The director was summoned and the facts agreed upon. One part of the ruling was easy - the side guilty of misinformation were assigned the score for 4S making by their opponents. The other part was harder. The director ruled that passing 4H was an obvious error in any case, and let the non-offending side keep their score for down 6. Thus the victory points in Flight A did not add up to the customary check sum.

At the conclusion of Saturday's round-robin, two of the seven Superflight entrants, teams captained by Grand Masters Bill Hunter and Rich DeMartino, tied for the fourth and last spot for Sunday's Knockout semifinal. Unfortunately, this occurrence found a gap in GNT coordinator Mark Aquino's 2008 conditions of contest. The Directors, who had already had a long day, refused to permit a playoff. You might think the first tiebreaker would be head-to-head competition (DeMartino had won that round-robin match). But the directors, in the absence of a clear district policy, elected to apply ACBL procedure which specified net imps as the first tiebreak. After calculation of net imps rather than victory points, they then determined that DeMartino had won that way as well. I'm sure next year's Conditions of Contest will be modified to clarify district policy.

The DeMartino team decisively outbid the Becher team during Sunday's 64-board Superflight semifinal match, starting with the first board, North dealing with only East-West vul:

.
            North
            S-x
West        H-AQ10xx   East
S-Qx        D-Qx       S-KJxxxx
H-xx        C-Q10xxx   H-x
D-Axxxx                D-KJ10xx
C-Axxx      South      C-J
            S-A109x
            H-KJxxx
            D-x
            C-Kxx
           
 North  East   South   West   
 2H     2S     4H      Double
 Pass   Pass   Pass
           
 North  East   South   West   
 Pass   Pass   1H      Pass
 4H     4S     Double  Pass
 Pass   Pass

 

Both the DeMartino team's doubled game contracts were cold. The calamitous summation of 590 and 790 yielded 16 imps. I admit to sitting North at the second table, and passing partner's double of 4S. Had I pulled to 5H, Steve Becker, West, would have had to lead an ace and then find the club ruff to defeat us, harder defense to find than at the other table, where a noxious off-kilter weak two somehow won the day against my teammates, despite putting the hand with the singleton on lead to get his ruff.

DeMartino led Becher 51-37 at the quarter, 86-61 at the half, 116-71 at the turn, and the final tally was a convincing 147 imps to 107. I've rarely seen a 64-board match with so few play problems. The deals were all about bidding judgement. For example:

 

.
       North
       S-AKQJxx
       H-10xxx
       D-K
       C-Jx

       South
       S-x
       H-AKxxxx
       D-xxx
       C-Axx
           
 West   North  East    South   
 Pass   1S     Pass    2H
 Pass   4H     Pass    5C
 Pass   6H     Pass    Pass
 Pass
           
 West   North  East    South   
 1D     1S     Pass    2H
 Pass   4H     Pass    Pass

The hearts split 2-1, so 10 imps went to the DeMartino team's Pat McDevitt for his 5C cue-bid. Of course, the light opening at my table influenced our auction. My 4H jump raise had a lower maximum after overcalling than Geof Brod's had after opening. Perhaps I should splinter 4D instead.

Even when we outbid them, we didn't get much for it:

.      North
       S-QJ10x
       H-xx
       D-KQxx
       C-KJx

       South
       S-AKx
       H-KQJxxx
       D-xxx
       C-x
       

My partner and I reached a normal 4H with fair chances, but a diamond through dummy established four tricks for the defense. The DeMartino team's inferior 3NT by North went down two after a club lead, but that put little bread in our house.

 

Ah well, wait till next year, and good luck to Rich and his fellows. My guess is they'll need it in the final against the Doub team.