Other rebids by opener at the 3-level and beyond
Getting back on track in these 2/1 discussions, we will finish our look at opener's first rebid today.
Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between good technique and what is commonly called table presence, or a talent for guessing. There is nothing mysterious or supernatural about it -- it involves mostly the use of some basic notions of probability, and common sense.
You are playing 4 Hearts, after the lead of the Queen of hearts.
Should declarer presume that the lead was from QJ10?
Of course! It is purely common sense, coupled with the fact that you must find a good break in hearts to have any chance of making the contract. (Otherwise you would lose at least 2 Aces and 2 hearts).
So, your first plan is to draw two trumps with the Ace and King; then run all the spades, ruffing the 4th round, expecting to find them 4-3, and pitching one diamond from dummy; finally, you will play a heart, endplaying West, which must give you your 10th trick upon his return (you will make 3 spades, 4 hearts, 2 clubs, and the extra trick West will give you).
Quite simple and effective. However, after playing the two top hearts and running 3 spades, East pitches a diamond on the 3rd round. West had 5 spades originally. What now?
You cannot insist on your original plan, since West will have an exit in the 5th spade. Since you will have to breach clubs at some point, you do it now, playing a club to the King. East should duck that, but that is often not so easy, and he won it to push a diamond through. You try the Jack, losing to West's Queen, who cashes his trump trick and plays the 4th spade trick. You ruff in dummy and this is the position you face:
In actual play, declarer now played a club to his 8!
My reasoning (for I was declarer) was that West had already showed up with 8 major suit cards, while his partner had only 4. Any specific card missing was much more likely to be with East, which had a 2-2-?-? hand originally. The most likely distribution for these unknown cards would be 5-4, in which case the club finesse was odd-on.
Good guessing, or technique? I prefer to think of it as a little bit of both, with emphasis on the second.
Our experts' comments about the Judgment situation presented by Ernesto Muzzio are already incorporated in the original article.
If you found our last problem somewhat too easy, try your hand at this one.
But the lead was the Jack of hearts now.
Plan the play.
Let us recap the problem:
After the heart Queen lead, you can count 7 spades, 2 hearts, 1 diamond and 1 club = 11 tricks. Your best shot is a squeeze against East (you will need him to hold KQ of diamonds as well as his 5 hearts). The solution is simple, but not for those who play too quickly to trick 1. Duck the lead! Now your count will be rectified. You will win any return and run winners (including the Ace of diamonds -- a Vienna coup) to reach this ending:
And when you cash the last trump, discarding a diamond from dummy, East is squeezed.
Did you find this hand too easy? Unworthy of the intro about Berlusconi's talents as a composer of problems?
Check out next week's article then. (Mr. H, at the comment section of this problem, gets style points for ducking the heart lead while playing the 7 of Hearts... saving the 2 for winning the last trick)
The Brazilian Trials for the selection of the team that will represent Brazil in the next World Championship (Salsomaggiore, Italy, in August 2020) were disputed between January 18th and 25th. The team of Roberto BARBOSA, Adriano Rodrigues, Diego Brenner, Miguel Villas Boas, Marcelo Branco & Gabriel Chagas won the final match against the team of Jeovani SALOMÃO, Henrique Salomão (only 19 years old!), João Paulo Campos, Stefano Tommasini, Roberto Mello & Emilio La Rovere.
Let us follow the hands in the 84-board final (divided in 6 stanzas of 14 boards each). In this first round, JP Campos and S Tommasini were in the Open Room, in North-South, facing D Brenner and M Villas-Boas. In the Closed Room, G Chagas and M Branco, in North-South, tackled H Salomão - J. Salomão.
Board 1 was an interesting push:
In the Open Room, JP opened the North hand. I would have opened it too. After 1 Club - 1 Spade, though, he had an uncomfortable rebid problem, and picked 2 Clubs. Now Stefano had a decision to make, and he decided in favor of aggressiveness, bidding 3 Hearts, showing invitational values and 5-5. It worked out well in the end when North raised to the easy 4 Hearts. Note how it is easy because of the fitting club honors (no doubt this was a major factor behind South's decision to push).
In the Closed Room, Chagas, perhaps foreseeing rebid problems, preferred to pass as opener. Jeovani Salomão opened the East hand with a 12-14 NT. This actually simplified the bidding for N-S when South, Branco, had a bid that depicted a major two-suiter. He bid 2 Clubs, West bid 2 Diamonds, and North ended the auction by jumping to game in hearts. Different roads, same landing spot, no imps exchanged.
In the Open Room, Miguel and Diego went overboard when East opened a 12-14 NT. Especially at this vulnerability, I think this is a very good choice of opening bid, but the hands fitted badly when Diego could not deliver a 2nd club. They landed in 3NT and went down 3 when South hit on a spade lead, attacking declarer's entries to the long clubs. Miguel made the expected misguess in clubs -- if clubs are 3-3, it is a straight guess, but if they are 4-2 with South having the doubleton, playing the Queen picks up the suit if South has Jx, while playing the 10 does not pick up the suit in the symmetrical situation of Kx in South. Without being able to bring the clubs home, the contract was hopeless.
In the closed room, E-W stopped low, after 1 Club by East, 1 Diamond (=Hearts) by West, 2 Clubs by East, and a well-judged pass by West. (Note how the singleton in partner's long suit influenced his choice). SALOMÃO might win 6 imps (-150 in one room, + 90 in the other), but North-South found the best defense of a heart lead and the diamond Queen return. Try as he might (even if he guessed clubs right!), declarer would lose 2 diamonds, 2 hearts, and 2 clubs. Still, it was good enough for 3 imps (-150 vs. -50), tying the match, since BARBOSA started with a 3 imp carryover.
You are in second position, Vul against Not. Do you open this hand? Diego did, Henrique Salomão did not. Score one for light opening bids -- the opponents reached 3NT in both tables, but the diamond lead ended declarer chances. 10 imps to BARBOSA.
The spotlight was on the same players in the next board.
Your right-hand opponent starts with 1NT (15-17). They bid to 4 Hearts, showing a 4-4 fit after a Stayman-like auction. What do you lead? In one table, dummy showed both majors. Does it influence your lead?
Both leaders went with the in-your-face lead of the Ace of Diamonds, but this not only helped declarer establish his 5-card (!) diamond suit, but also helped him guess spades (he had an Ace-Queen guess there, and played you to not have the Ace, once you showed AK of diamonds). A club lead would have made him work harder. The hand can always make, though. It goes to show something. Or perhaps nothing at all.
SALOMÃO gained 4 imps in the next board when they stopped safely in a part-score while Miguel-Diego bid a hopeless (as the cards were) nonvulnerable 3NT, going down one.
Board 6 was another interesting push:
In the Closed Room, West, Henrique, opened a 12-14 NT, which shut North up. They were allowed to play in 3 Hearts after a transfer auction, making an overtrick.
In the Open Room, Diego opened 1 Club. JP overcalled 1 Diamond, with his hefty diamonds. East-West had the right tool for this hand -- East's double of 1 Diamond showed 5+ Hearts. When South jump raised his partner to 3 Diamonds, East could bid 3 Hearts, being assured of 8 cards in the fit.
3 Hearts might go down in some other day, but as the cards were -- and particularly since the possible spade trick for the defense could not be established by direct leads -- 9 tricks were taken here, too.
West in the hot seat again. All vul, 2nd-in-hand. Do you or don't you open? Being consistent with Bd. 3, Diego opened, and Henrique passed. The board was passed out in the Closed Room. The Open Room ended in 1NT, and made only 6 tricks (it might have been 5). 3 imps to SALOMÃO. Score one for sound openings.
West again has the problem, but this is a systemic victory for BARBOSA, rather than a judgment one. Diego had available a 2 Hearts opening showing hearts and a minor suit. Henrique didn't -- so, he passed, heard his partner open a 12-14 1NT, and South doubled. The partnership was no longer in "game searching mode" by then, so they stopped in 3 Hearts (over 2 Spades by the opponents). At Diego-Miguel's table, the hand was quickly bid to 4 Hearts, which was made with a successful (and indicated) trump handling. 6 imps to BARBOSA.
The score was BARBOSA 19 x 10 SALOMÃO at this point. After a push in a well-bid 4 Hearts, the spotlight turned on South, for a change.
Stefano and Marcelo had to lead against 3NT. Stefano heard a Gazzilli auction in which declarer, having opened 1 Heart, showed 15+ hcp and either a balanced hand with 3 spades or a 5431 (unknown suits besides the 5 hearts). Dummy showed long diamonds and 8+ hcp. He led a spade.
Marcelo heard a 1 Heart opening too, but then declarer showed a non-descript game forcing hand (denying 55 or other extreme shapes), and responder broke a relay chain to show long diamonds, upon which opener picked 3NT as the final contract. He led a club. The spade lead gave nothing away (the opponents had AQxx opposite KJ10), but the club lead cost a trick (it ran to declarer's AK109). 12 fat imps to SALOMÃO.
West had to hog all the attention again in the next board.
Both players heard the same bidding: LHO opened, third-in-hand, with 1 Diamond. Partner passed, RHO bid 1 Heart, and they passed again. LHO then bid 3 Spades, a heart raise with shortness in spades, and RHO ended the bidding with 4 Hearts. What is your lead?
Diego tried a club, the unbid suit. Henrique led a diamond. The club lead gave up a trick and a tempo (dummy had AKxx, declarer let it run to his J9x), the diamond lead gave nothing away (partner has AJ9x, dummy had K10xx). 10 imps to SALOMÃO, which had gained 22 imps in consecutive boards after two ineffective leads by BARBOSA. The score was now SALOMÃO 32 x 19 BARBOSA.
The next board was a possible slam (requiring only one loser, combined, in these two suits: AKJxx opposite xxx, and AJ7xx opposite K10xx), but no team got close. Stefano and João Paulo had to face more preemption and landed in 5 Diamonds (the 9-card fit). Gabriel and Marcelo had less obstruction to deal with, and stopped in 4 Hearts, but Marcelo misguessed the play and made 10 tricks, to get a pushed board.
The last 2 boards of the round were not recorded by the Vugraph. BARBOSA gained one imp in them, and so the round ended with SALOMÃO 12 imps ahead, 32x20.
This will be a quick one. Our experts are playing in the finals of the Brazilian Trials, and we are building a backlog of interesting hands to comment upon in the coming days. This next hand, in the semifinals, struck my eye:
Miguel Villas-Boas picked up this nice collection, vulnerable, 3rd in hand. He was already thinking about how to deal with spade preempts when his partner pleased him by opening 1 Spade, himself. He bid 2 Diamonds (game forcing), and partner rebid 2 Spades.
I gave this hand as a problem to some intermediate and advanced players, and none of them chose Miguel's bid, 4 Diamonds. I think his bid is clearly the best. This little digression shows how people are reluctant to jump in a forcing auction even when they have the hand for it (setting trumps, asking for cuebids). This creates problems in the later auction. Not in Brenner-Villas Boas table, though (at least not yet!).
Diego Brenner bid what was probably the best thing Miguel could wish for -- 4 Hearts (cuebid), depicting either the King of hearts or shortness. East could perhaps bid 7 Diamonds now, but he chose to go through 4NT. Partner showed one Ace, and he bid 7 Diamonds. This was Diego's hand:
Excellent bidding, wasn't it?
But the auction was not over yet. Diego had a thoughtful idea. Since he had an undisclosed source of tricks, (and a nice hand of his own), perhaps 7NT would be safer, protecting against some bad break in diamonds. (He would have two bites at the apple rather than one -- if diamonds did not ran, perhaps spades would). And so he bid 7NT.
He picked an unfortunate time to do that, since his hand had no entries!
Luckily for them, South had a tough problem in picking the lead, and he picked... a spade. A happy ending for our experts, and 13 imps when the other table ended in 6 Diamonds (after East did not jump to 4 Diamonds over 2 Spades).
We have plenty of interesting hands from the trials to publish, but we will interrupt that series to give a bidding judgment problem, offered by the great Argentinian player Ernesto Muzzio.
If it is not clear by the diagram, no one is vulnerable.
Some of our experts' opinions follow:
Diego Brenner: DBL, meaning "I will be happy if you bid". It's very comfortable to Pass, but in my opinion the comfort zone is a dangerous one in Bridge.
Marcelo Branco: Pass. I don't see any particular reason to act here, since I have a pretty normal opening bid.
Paulo Brum: Pass. Without any special agreements, since my pass is not forcing, the double is commonly interpreted as an expectation to defeat 4 Spades, and as a positive opinion that the 5-level is too dangerous for us. I don't have any assurance of either of those opinions, so I pass. My pass will very often reveal a shortness in spades, allowing partner to reopen if it seems profitable.
Nowadays, many partnerships are playing this Double as Diego described it. There are pros and cons, as in any bridge convention, but in general I (Paulo Brum) like it, particularly in IMP scoring. It helps us bid with more assurance, more often, at the cost of having some 590's and 790's scored against us here and there. Pushing the opponents out of their chosen contract -- either to 5m doubled or to 5S -- will often result in much bigger profits.
We want to hear about your opinion in the comments!
Let us try our hand at another tough problem by the great Pietro Berlusconi:
The lead was the Queen of hearts. Plan the play.
The solution will be given in January 28th, 2020.
Let us recap the problem: 6 Clubs, with the Queen of hearts lead.
Counting the 7 tricks in the club suit, you have 11 top tricks (1 Spade, 2 Hearts, 1 Diamond, 7 clubs). The only hope for a 12th trick is a squeeze. The lead indicates that the 10 of hearts is guarded solely by West, i.e., it is correctly positioned for a squeeze (West has to pitch before North). If West has the KQ of spades too, you can catch him in a squeeze-and-endplay, reaching this position;
West has to keep 2 hearts (else his Jack will fall under the King), and so he must keep only 1 spade. Now he is ripe for an endplay. You lead your spade, and he yields the 12th trick by his heart return. The only possible snag is that he may try to fool you, unguarding the heart Jack and keeping 2 spades (pitching one honor, keeping a small one). But you will play him to have started with 6 spades, given the bidding, and so you will only have problems if he had 7 spades originally (a very unlikely holding).
Well, what if West does not have KQ in spades? After all, he did not lead a spade. The ending above does not work if East has a spade honor. West can unblock in spades and you are down (when East wins the spade trick, he can play anything and you will never make 2 tricks).
You have to look for a line of play that will deal with Hx in East, given the bidding and the non-spade lead. Follow the solution closely: win the heart lead in your hand, play the Ace of diamonds, and ruff a diamond. Cash the Ace of clubs (West shows void), and finish drawing trumps, while ruffing your 3rd diamond. You are now looking at these cards:
Now your plan faces a bifurcation, depending on how East will react when you play your next spade to the Ace, to ruff the last diamond. If East (with presumed Hx) plays an honor, you will win, ruff a diamond, and try to reach the ending shown earlier (i.e. you will endplay West with his remaining spade honor at the 3-card ending). If East plays low, you will have to play for some other ending. Win the Ace, and ruff a diamond (you will need diamonds 4-4 in this variation), to reach the following ending, with open cards since you are already visualizing the opponents' hands as this:
When you cash dummy's last trump, East must pitch a heart (else you reach that first ending). Now, you pitch a heart from dummy! What can West do? If he discards a spade, you play your spade, and dummy is good. He will probably discard a heart. Now your 10 of hearts is established, but you don't have an entry to it. Or do you? Play a heart to your King, and lead a spade. What can they do? Either West plays the King and loses the last spade trick to your Jack, or he ducks the spade to East's queen, and East has to lead his heart, letting you finally win that elusive 12th trick with the 10 of hearts. This is what is known in the literature as a stepping-stone ending.
Isn't it gorgeous?