♠♥ ST VINCENT CONTRACT BRIDGE CLUB ♦♣ NEWSLETTER 2/07 FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT WATCH THIS SPACE! SOME DATES TO KEEP IN MIND More players needed GNOT FINAL The committee has decided to keep Wednesday at Gawler Sunday 23rd Sept Evenings going. At the moment we have 4 steady pairs that make 2 tables. St Vincent’s Congress Anyone else with thoughts on playing. Sunday 28th Oct please see Earlene WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Several people have asked about the odds against the ways in which missing cards can divide. Here they are in betting terms which most understand rather better then probabilities. Cards missing Division Approximate odds Remarks 2 1-1 Even money A tiny bias to a 1-1 split 2-0 Even money 3 2-1 4:1 on 3-0 4:1 against 4 3-1 Even money Good to know when you 2-2 3:2 against have a 9-card trump fit. 4-0 9:1 against 5 3-2 7:3 on Similarly with an 8-card fit. 4-1 7:3 against 5-0 24:1 against 6 4-2 Even money Similarly with a 7-card fit. 3-3 2:1 against 5-1 6:1 against 6-0 65:1 against 7 4-3 3:2 on 5-2 7:3 against 6-1 16:1 against 7-0 200:1 against As a practical rule of thumb, an odd number of cards will tend to divide evenly, but an even number will not. The case of seven cards missing is important in practical play, and it is something which is easily missed. If you have, say, AKxx in hand and Qx in dummy then watch their discards like a hawk! If they discard from a 4-card suit then you can make a golden overtrick! See overleaf. THOSE GOLDEN OVERTRICKS The contract! The contract! And nothing but the contract! This mantra is hammered into people when they start learning the elements of declarer play and it is perfectly OK for rubber bridge and teams-of-four (GNOT players please note). At matchpointed pairs a rather different attitude is needed because your true opponents are not the pair against whom you happen to play the hand: your true opponents are the many pairs sitting in the same direction as yourself. An overtrick or two can make a big difference to your matchpoint score. Remember that if you beat everybody by 20 points you get the same top as if you had bid a grand slam. Here are a few pointers. When the dummy appears try to judge the contract as a normal, a good, or a bad one. A normal contract is one that will be reached by nearly everybody such as, for example, a 26 point game in spades with an 8-card fit. In this case you must try for every trick that is available. It is even correct to jeopardise the contract in the search for an overtrick provided the odds are in your favour (see page 1!). Such an attitude is rank heresy at teams scoring but, at matchpoints, it will gain you much more than you lose in the long run. A good contract is one that will give you a good result, if not an outright top, by simply making it. Examples are any doubled contract or, in club play against average players, a slam. Sometimes, too, you will be in a make able game that you think other pairs will not reach. In all these cases forget about overtricks and just make your contract! A bad contract is one in which things look bleak: perhaps partner - not you of course - put his bidding boots on that morning and landed you in a thin game or you are in three no trumps with nine easy tricks in sight and you missed a sometimes easier game in a major suit. It happens in the best of circles. You may be heading for a bad result because, in the first case most pairs will stop in a part score and, in the second, the blighters will bid the major suit game. The best strategy is to go for broke: assume every finesse is working and all suits break kindly. You can afford to take almost any risk because two or three down will be as much a bottom as one down. That is the beauty of matchpointed pairs. Notice that, in the second case, making nine tricks at no trump will lose to all pairs playing in the major: you must get at least one overtrick. The above assumes an uncontested auction. A contested auction complicates things for experts - God bless 'em - who tend to wax eloquent about the problems but for an average player the attitude to take is surprisingly simple. For example, suppose you have been pushed to three spades by opponents competing to the three level. The scoresheet will look like a broken jigsaw: some will be in three spades, others in two spades, and yet others will elect to defend. There is now no such thing as a normal contract. Forget about overtricks and go for the contract provided it doesn't depend on a minor miracle like dropping a singleton king with six, say, cards missing. If it does depend on a minor miracle and you are not doubled play safely for one down at any vulnerability, especially if you think that they can make their contract: you will be surprised how often this attitude produces an excellent matchpoint score. If, regrettably, you are doubled and vulnerable and the contract is unmakeable and - importantly - they cannot make their contract then you can only smile bravely and reflect that the next board may be a top. The battle has been lost but the war isn't over. This little sermon merely scratches the surface of a big topic. I can recommend two books. "Duplicate Bridge" by Alfred Sheinwold is a small book written for newcomers to duplicate. It is easy to read and he has a sense of humour. "Matchpoints" by Kit Woolsey is more of a tome - nearly 400 pages yet! - and is not for newcomers. It is, however, a goldmine for serious players. Both, I think, are still in print. INSUFFICIENT BIDS When your opponent makes an insufficient bid the next player has two options: • To accept the insufficient bid ACTION: • They may then make any legal bid at the current level of bidding, E.g. 1H—1S—2H—1S—the next bidder may now bid 2C if they wish • There is no penalty on the offending side if this option is selected • Not to accept the insufficient bid ACTION: • The offender has two options: • To make the bid good at the LOWEST sufficient level, in which case there is no penalty • To make another bid, including Pass (but NOT Double), BUT the offender’s partner is barred for the remainder of the auction HAND OF THE MONTH This hand from a book called "Winning Declarer Play" by Dorothy Hayden-Truscott is one of my favourites. As promised in the last newsletter, no "expert" play is required - just a few seconds thought before playing to the first trick. If your RHO glares at you while you have a think then glare right back! So many of our members play like lightning to the first trick and run into trouble later. Thinking now and making is much better than playing quickly and "Sorry, partner, should have made that". NORTH S: A Q 10 H: A K 7 D: J 10 8 7 2 C: K J SOUTH S: K J 9 7 H: J 10 9 8 6 D: A 9 C: A Q The contract is six no trump by South. The bidding is immaterial: everybody who is anybody will reach the small slam and a few brave souls will be in seven, but your job is to make six. The opening lead by West is the club 10. What now? You can assume that no suit breaks abnormally. Comments overleaf. COMMENTS Obvious finessing positions exist in hearts and diamonds. With six tricks available in the other suits you will make the slam with four hearts and two diamonds or two hearts and four diamonds. You must try to make if either suit behaves itself. Some declarers won the opening lead in hand and, seduced by the hearts, took an immediate finesse in that suit. When it lost they needed a miracle in diamonds when East returned a club but, alas, they were out of luck and they deserved to be. It is much better to win the lead in dummy and lead the diamond jack. If East covers then win and knock out the other diamond honour for four diamond tricks and the slam. If East plays low then finesse. If the finesse loses - you don't really expect it to win! - you are still in there fighting: win any return and bang down the diamond ace. If the other honour is doubleton then you are home (check it!). And if all this fails then you have the heart finesse as a last resort. Played this way you make the slam if either red suit is on your side. The complete hand as given:- NORTH S: A Q 10 H: A K 7 D: J 10 8 7 2 C: K J WEST EAST S: 6 3 2 S: 8 5 4 H: 5 4 H: Q 3 2 D: Q 5 4 3 D: K 6 C: 10 9 8 7 C: 6 5 4 3 2 SOUTH S: K J 9 7 H: J 10 9 8 6 D: A 9 C: A Q One additional point: if the diamond finesse wins - fat chance! - switch immediately to hearts and cash the ace and king. If the queen falls you have an overtrick and, if it doesn’t, knock it out and claim.