Welcome to the July 2016 Newsletter.
Despite the fact that the calendar declares it to be winter, and a few colder nights, in general it has been unseasonably warm, with many spring flowers and extended fruiting on many trees. The weather has not always been conducive to outdoor activity, and while a good number of our members have been away to warmer and drier climes, most of us are enjoying convivial companionship at the club with it's cosy climate.
This month we bring you the promised summary from the Property sub-committee, written by Mark Robertson and Anne Barrowclough; Hamish Brown has a couple of interesting hands that demonstrate some of the important tactical consideration when bidding in a teams situation; the second of a series of 6 articles by Larry Cohen about various ethical bidding dilemmas; and Sylvester Riddell shares an exciting hand he recently encountered at the Bridge table.
If you would like to see which events are coming up in our region, you can visit the Auckland Northland Region Bridge Committee website and click on the Tournament tab near the top of the page, or click the link.
to our new and returning members:
New Members – Robin Taylor, Diana Davidson
Returning Members –Alma Kwan
Last month, Mark Robertson presented an update of the work undertaken by the property sub‑committee.
The property sub‑committee is represented by Mark Robertson, Anne Barrowclough, Anthony Hopkins, and Allan Morris, and recently joined by Owen Hayward.
The committee is looking to the long term future of the club. “We want to see a more modern club capable of supporting many more members” Mark said. “We think there is likely to be some consolidation of Bridge Clubs over the next several years and the Auckland Club is a logical club that others could merge with”,
“In addition, we think that the current premises will become unaffordable over time with increased costs for maintenance and the increasing expenses of the being on our current site”.
“It’s better that we look to solving this problem now, rather than wait until we are faced with no choice on our options”
The presentation advised members on three streams of investigation being considered.
1. Sell and buy somewhere else
2. Expand the facilities on the site
3. Merge with another society and combine resources to create something bigger and better.
Mark talked about the opportunities and challenges that each option presents and explained why the committee is taking a considered approach to this review of options..
“Any option considered must deliver all the things we aspire to have, and must truly set us up for the next few decades. I understand the change is not easy for many members and there are several members who are happy how things are today, but the club must be sustainable for tomorrows generations, just as the committee in 1970 had the foresight to set up what we have today”.
When you review the hands with your partner at the end of the evenings bridge do you find yourself reviewing the losing hands against what the hand record says you can make? All is not what is seems. These two hands from the first round of the Tuesday night teams on July 19th highlight the need to consider each specific action in a train wreck rather than coming to blanket conclusions about what is wrong based on the deep finesses double dummy analysis of what can be made.
Sitting west red against green you hold:
You hear the following auction:
P – P – (2S) – X
P – 3S – P – 6H
(X) – P – P – ?
Partner has passed and South has opened 2S showing 5S 4+ of a minor and less than an opening hand. You double intending to bid 4H next, you have 18 and a hand that can play Hearts opposite a singleton from partner that’s about a minimum for X and 4H (if partner is completely broke 4H will be 1 light). 4H directly is best played as a hand that expects to make 4H with no slam interest, “never pre-empt a pre-empt” they say. East bids 3S which is game forcing looking for a spade hold to play 3NT.
When East bids 3S it looks like they have a balanced hand with about 10 – 11 points. Not enough to open 1NT. It’s most likely that they hold a minor suit A and the KH or KC or both minor suit aces, in a balanced hand, so 2 or 3 cards in H (the cards we need for slam to make). The problem at this point in the auction is that no action you take will assist partner to make an intelligent decision about slam – 4S cue then 5H gets the hand across but East will not know we need the KH and the AC not the AD. So 6H is best after 3S from East.
It is a mistake to think that 6H is more risky than 4H. There is a useful way to make these decisions which was discovered by gamblers who happened to also be mathematicians. You calculate the IMPS you win if you are right and you calculate the IMPs you lose if you are wrong. If the other table bids and make 6H then biding 4H loses 13 IMPs, while if the other table bids 4H and 6H is 1 light then you lose 12 IMPs. This suggests if the odds favour bidding 6 not bidding it is the greater risk.
When North doubles 6H you consider a XX. It is very likely North has the KH and an A. If they have the A of Diamonds you will make 6H. Here 6H vul and X making is 1660 while 6H vul XX is 2070 so you stand to gain 9 imps for XX assuming they are playing 6H making at the other table. If 6HX is 1 light you go -200 assuming the other table stops in 4H that’s a loss of 850 or 13 IMPs if you redouble and they play 4H at the other table that’s 400 + 650 or 1050 or 14 IMPS. If they play 6H not doubled at the other table you compare 100 -200 or 3 IMPS to 100 – 400 or 7 IMPS. This maths says redouble is right as it costs from 1 to 4 IMPs if you are going light and gains 9 IMPS if you are making. You believe North has 1 minor suit ace so it’s a 50/50 proposition. At the table you don’t redouble and you are lucky as this gains 1 IMP when they play 4H at the other table and make 5 -13 IMPs rather than -14 IMPs if you had XX. North has the KH and the A of Clubs.
The complete hands:
As you can see the 2S bid is a sound competitive action in 3rd seat non vulnerable and it puts pressure on the opposition who then have to conduct a slam auction starting at the 3 level (if the bidding starts 1H – 2D slam is now much less likely since East is showing picture cards in the wrong suit). The X treats the 6H bid as a gamble rather than a sound action and risks 7 IMPS in an attempt to gain 1 to 3 IMPS (1 IMP when the other table plays game and 3 when the other table also plays slam).
Deep finesse on the hand record says that 5H is all that can be made however Easts bid of 3S suggests she has 2 out of the 3 missing cards needed to make 6 – on another day with 3 cards in Hearts (also advertised in the 3S bid) you will catch the KS singleton and make. We lose 13 imps on this hand when they stop in 4 at the other table but the decision to bid 6H is OK.
On to the second round of 14 boards, you are still sitting West and South opens 1C these are your cards:
The bidding proceeds:
(1C) – X – (1H) – 2S
(3H) – ?
You X on the first round which is pretty normal. East can bid 1S with 6-9 and 4S, 2S shows 9-11 with 4S, a 2C cue bid would be 12+ creating a forcing auction, and 3S is 7 – 11 with 5S. So East who chooses 2S has a good hand. Because both opposition are bidding Hearts and you have 4 you can pick East has 0-1 Hearts she is most likely 4144 (4S 1H 4D and 4C) or 4135 since with 5D and decent values she might bid more. Constructing partners hand in your mind like this at a crucial point in the bidding is a valuable way of getting to grips with what to do next.
Your 3 possible actions are Pass, Double and 3 Spades. If 3H makes and 3S makes then the decision is worth a total 280 points or 7 IMPS. If 3H is 1 light and 3S makes then the difference is 90 points (-50 at one table and +140 at the other) or 3 IMPS. If 3S goes 1 light and 3H makes then the difference is 40 points or 1 IMP. If 3S is 2 light and 3H is also 2 light then the difference is 300 points or 7 IMPS. So up to 14 IMPS are resting on the decision to bid 3S or pass.
To pass you hope that 3H goes light but recognise that 3S might not make. To bid 3S you are expecting that 3H makes and hoping that 3S also makes. However if 3S is 1 or 2 light and 3H makes then bidding is OK. It’s when both 3H and 3S are light that bidding 3S is wrong – you turn +50 or +100 into -100 or -200. At the table I wanted to double 3H however I did not feel I could justify it (most likely if I double I am turning +50 into +100 (2 IMPS gain) at the risk of turning -140 into -530 when 3H makes (a 9 IMP loss) risking 9 to win 2 is bad bridge. So instead of X I bid 3S.
At the table East took 3S as invitational and bid 4S. A disaster, as this was doubled by South and in attempting to make East went 2 light rather than 1 light. The other table passed the hand out so 4S 2 light X -500 against nothing: -11 IMPS.
Deep finesse tells us that 3S can make however pass is best. Deep finesse also says 3H is 2 light so bidding risks a lot to gain 1 IMP (the difference between 3H -2 or +100 and 3S making +140). If I am crystal clear 3S will be viewed as competitive by both partners then the judgment to bid 3S is sound but it puts unnecessary pressure on East when pass works just about as well.
Here is the complete hand:
West can evaluate that 3H is not playing well and this is the main reason for passing but the inferences are not strong enough to risk a X. West can see that their Hearts are prime for defending, AK97 gives control plus ruffing potential. East can probably work out to lead a Club, they have long Clubs partner has made a double showing short clubs and North may have raised Clubs rather than risk introducing Hearts. West can expect to switch to a low S to get C ruffs when they are in with the AH whatever the lead. When the hand looks to defend like an open book West should pass 3H. At the table this would gain 3 IMPs rather than losing 11.
In the previous article, we introduced the confusing concept of acting after partner's slow pass. Here is another example:
With both sides vulnerable, South holds:
K873 K3 Q10872 K2
I love to balance on this auction. If my partner had passed 2 in normal tempo (5 seconds or so), I would be free to use my best judgment. But, after partner's slow pass, I would feel ethically bound to pass out 2. I have extra information (partner thought of bidding) that it is safe to bid here. I know my partner doesn't have a bunch of garbage. I should make the ethical pass. I can't let the knowledge that partner has values influence my decision. I'll sleep better at night with a clear (ethical) conscience if I pass.
What would happen if I did balance?
The opponents have the right to call the director. The director would let the bidding continue and suggest that he be called back after the deal if needed. If the director is called back (my balancing action was "successful") and deems that a panel of my peers (he can actually go away from the table, take a survey and come back to make his ruling) wouldn't balance, then the contract is restored to 2. Whatever actually happened at the table is "cancelled" and the director determines the score in 2 (leaning in the 2 declarer's direction to give him the most favorable outcome). If the director deems my balancing bid was normal ("everyone" would do it), then the table result stands. For example, if my hand were:
K875 6 A765 K764
I could surely balance with a double. Who wouldn't? This hand is possibly worth a double the first time, but certainly clearcut in balancing seat after the opponents bid and raise to 2.
The guideline on what is "allowable" is fuzzy. It reads as if a team of lawyers all got to put their words into the pot, but boils down to something to the effect of "an action taken after partner's slow pass is allowable if a normal percentage of the person's peers would have done the same." But, why go there? I prefer to just pass in close cases and not get involved with a director call and maybe taking advantage of partner's tempo. If I deem it is "close" then I just pass.
Is it wrong for the opponents to call the director if you take action after partner's slow pass? Are they being obnoxious? No! It is fully within their rights. It isn't rude. Yet, many players are offended when the director is called in this situation. Unfortunately, newer players have trouble understanding all the ramifications and they get intimidated by the director call.
Do we want the director called for these "slow pass and then partner acts" situations only in major tournaments? At a local duplicate game? In a newcomers game? This is a thorny issue where you won't get agreement from the cognoscenti. Here are the two extreme sides of the coin (about calling the director after hesitations):
A) "Director calls for tempo violations ruin the atmosphere and turn people off--don't even think of admonishing players for acting after a slow pass and don't dare call the director." "We don't want a cut-throat atmosphere. This is killing bridge. The people who bid after the slow pass don't even realize what they are doing--they don't understand the ethics involved." "Go easy on them!"
Contrasted with ...
B) "Active ethics after partner's slow tempo has to be taught to players from the very start. Even in a newcomers game, this area should be handled firmly (yet politely) with education and director calls upon violation. If we don't enforce the rules, then why call it bridge?"
My preference would be somewhere in between A and B. There have been many debates (one catchy article has been called: "If it Hesitates, Shoot it") and if you wish to read about it, you might consider a bridge blogging site such as Bridgewinners.com (you can even post there and ask for opinions).
I leave you with this true story:
When I was 14 years old and new to duplicate, I was faced with a "huddle/bid" situation. Apparently I passed out of tempo and my 14-year old partner then bid in balancing seat. My opponent screamed (she shouldn't have screamed) for the director. I wanted to cry--I was so embarrassed. I survived (thankfully), but didn't understand what was happening. Ironically, some 30 years later, I was giving a lecture and in the audience was the lady who had screamed for the director.
Next article we discuss other tempo issues.
Board 2 on a Thursday night you pick up an exciting hand.
What should you open? It looks like a gambling 3NT, but the problem is that partner will be expecting two fewer clubs. If he has a perfect hand such as A862-AJ62-A1083-5 he will add his 3 Aces to your presumed 7 club tricks, hopefully getting 10 tricks in total, and will pass when 6C is cold.
What about bidding 5C? This by-passes 3NT which might be the only making game contract, but it will make it much harder for the opponents to find their major fit if they have one. You are vulnerable so you should be within two tricks of your contract, but even so if you are doubled -500 will not be a good result. On the other hand if partner has that perfect hand he will be able to raise you to slam.
These thoughts come to nothing when you notice you are in fourth position. The bidding comes around to you:
1D - 2S* – 2NT - ? * Partner’s 2S can be very weak.
These developments aren’t encouraging. The opponents are bidding strongly, partner is weak and can be expected to contribute at most one trick to the cause. 5C looks like the likely spot but chances are good that you will be defending a 3NT contract if you keep quiet, and that will be down at least 5 tricks. You pass expectantly, but the opponents bid to 5D before your next turn to bid. That seems likely to make and a 6C sacrifice will surely be too expensive. So, with some chagrin, you pass having not made a bid with one of the best suits you have ever picked up.
The opponents make with an overtrick for an average board, later you discover 3NT was played by the opponents at another table, down six.
to all our members, and visitors, who have done well while playing at our club over the last few weeks.
Tournament Results since Queens Birthday in June
Grace Joel - Leslie Porter Salver 8B
Peter Bach & Michael Cornell
Country of Origin Teams 10A
Mike Curry, Michael Ware,
Grant Jarvis, Blair Fisher
National 15A Swiss Pairs
Jeter Liu & Fuxia Weng
Bruce McLaren Swiss Pairs 8B
Vivien Cornell & Mike Cornell
Certificates Awarded by NZ Bridge, July 2016
Sylvester Riddell 1*
Jill Church, Alice Young, Bruce Inglis 1*, Setsuko Lichtnecker 1*
Terri-Ann Scorer, Jill Stenhouse, Robin Topham, Mitsuko Wada, Alan Walpole, Robert Christie 1*, Terry Melhuish 1*, Janet Richardson 1*, Susan Glennie 3*, Shirley Strickett 4*, Heather Salmons 5*, Joan Palmer 6*, Janet Pezaro 6*, Mac McKenzie 8*, Jackie Moss 9*
I would greatly appreciate it if someone would step forward to co-edit for the remainder of the year, with a view to taking over in 2017. I the meantime, I shall endeavour to get the next newsletter out in a somewhat timely fashion.
We have three wonderful proof readers who, due to my time constraints, I was unable to use. Any spelling, grammar and syntax errors are my own.
Babs-Merel de Visser