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Leads, Lebensohl and more at the Inter-Provincials

the late Dougal McLean.

And do not play the same contract as your teammates!

As was stated yesterday, it was Wellington who came up as the top region in last weekend’s Interprovincial Championships at the Auckland Bridge Club. Whereas in 2017 when they also won the Dougal McLean Trophy but failed to win any of the four categories, this time, their Open and Intermediate teams had most emphatic wins.

The Open team of Nigel Kearney- Karl Hayes and Alan Grant- Anthony Ker, which recorded a 12-0-win rate and averaged 13.85, finished over 44vps ahead of second placed Canterbury. For the Intermediates, Simon Louisson- Turei Haronga, Margaret and Graeme Dick actually lost three matches but averaged 14.17vps per match and finished 25.17vps ahead, again of Canterbury.

We featured a grand-slam from Day 1 where it took Sam and James Coutts just 4 bids to reach 7NT. They do it a little more scientifically in the Intermediate event as Margaret and Graeme Dick demonstrated:

Board 14
East Deals
None Vul
K Q 7 5
J 8 6
A 8 2
A J 7
8 6
9 3
K J 6 4 3
10 8 4 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 10 9 3 2
7 5
9 7
9 6 5 2
 
A 4
A K Q 10 4 2
Q 10 5
K Q
West North East South
  Margaret Dick   Graeme Dick
    Pass 2 
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 2  Pass 3 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
Pass 4  Pass 4 NT
Pass 5  Pass 6 
Pass 7  All pass  

 

2Diamond-small was a negative or waiting. 2Heart-small was natural but not always hearts and forced the 2Spade-small response. 3Club-small (known as the “Grue Shift”) confirmed a single-suited heart hand with 3Heart-small confirming heart support and slam interest.

4Club-small was a “flow cue” showing the Spade-smallA or K and Club-smallA or K but denying both Diamond-small A or K. 4Spade-small was a version of Key card where with hearts as trumps, 4Spade-small asks, thus giving more room for the replies. 4NT followed by 6Club-small showed 3 key cards and the Heart-smallQ… and thus the grand was reached. Well bid..and obviously a lot of practice to put the above series of bids into action successfully.

They were the only Intermediate pair to reach grand slam.

IP 18 Wellington intermediates (002).jpg
   Simon Louisson, Turei Haronga, Margaret and Graeme Dick

“Broken Hearted”

The Wellington Open team knew to steer clear of the heart suit in their round 2 match against Central Districts. Unfortunately for their opponents, they headed for the same contract at both tables!

 

Board 21
North Deals
N-S Vul
9 6 4
2
J 10 5 4
J 10 8 7 2
A K 10 7 5
K J 9 5
9 8 3
K
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 3
8 4 3
A Q 7 6 2
9 5 4
 
Q 8 2
A Q 10 7 6
K
A Q 6 3
West North East South
  Pass Pass 1 
Dbl Pass 1  Pass
2  All pass    

 

The problem for Central Districts was that West’s double showed both majors. East gave preference and when West tried to make it harder for the opposition with their pushy 2Heart-small bid, Anthony Ker, South gave up any thoughts of wanting to play any contract, let alone hearts. DealMaster Pro has 2Heart-small by East-West making but in reality, this contract drifted down 1..+50 to Wellington.

Meanwhile, Matthew Bristow also opened a strong club as South…but he got to the wheel when he rather wished he had not!

West              North             East                South

                                                                        1Club-small

1Spade-small                    Pass                Pass               2Heart-small

All Pass

2Heart-smallstarted badly for Matthew as West led two high spades followed by a spade ruff…and what with West’s three trump tricks, the contract drifted down three for 8 very useful imps to Wellington who had defended 2Heart-small at both tables!

IP 18Wellington Open (002).jpg
  The all conquering Wellington Open team, Anthony Ker, Alan Grant, Karl Hayes and Nigel Kearney

THIRD TIME LUCKY?
These next two hands have a certain similarity. We often see written up players who do something unusual and who pull off the spectacular. Rarely do we see the other side..where the spectacular goes rather wrong. The piece of advice at the end of this part may be the best advice to follow.

So, it’s your lead as West to a pretty normal sequence, holding Spade-small K953 Heart-small 654 Diamond-small T763 Club-small KQ:

West              North             East                South

                        Pass                Pass                1NT  (12-15)

Pass                2Club-small                   Pass                2Spade-small

Pass                2NT                Pass                3NT

All Pass

and your choice is?

Then, you are again on lead to 3NT with the following hand:

Spade-small QT953        Heart-small K54  Diamond-small KQ  Club-small J53. An artificial sequence tells you that dummy has a Precision Club opening (nothing else) and that declarer has specifically 5422 shape (five spades, four hearts) and a positive response but no great hand. Your lead?

and while you are searching for spectacular or unspectacular opening leads, try this one:

West              North             East                South

1Diamond-small                   1Spade-small                1NT                3NT

Pass                Pass                x                      All Pass

Your West hand is (and no correspondence, please, about the merits of opening this hand. I am sure there are merits, somewhere!)

Spade-small 984              Heart-small KQ42          Diamond-small KJ976       Club-small 6

Your lead? 

So, back to the first problem. You are playing Teams and thus want to beat 3NT. Our West decided to attack and aimed to find their partner with lots of club tricks. With the lead of Club-smallK asking partner to unblock honours, West started with Club-smallQ, looking, hoping for reverse encouragement from her partner. This is what she saw as West:

Board 21
North Deals
N-S Vul
J 2
Q 8 7 3
A K 9 2
8 7 4
K 9 5 3
6 5 4
10 7 6 3
K Q
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
You Dummy    
  Pass Pass 1 NT
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 NT
All pass      

 

East played Club-small2 to trick 1 and declarer Club-small3 (have you got that warm glow feeling inside yet? Club-small2 encouraging! Yes!). So, next came Club-smallK and you awaited AJxxx in partner’s hand. Half right. That was the holding but not in your partner’s hand!

Board 21
North Deals
N-S Vul
J 2
Q 8 7 3
A K 9 2
8 7 4
K 9 5 3
6 5 4
10 7 6 3
K Q
 
N
W   E
S
 
Q 10 7
A K 10 9
8 5 4
10 5 2
 
A 8 6 4
J 2
Q J
A J 9 6 3
West North East South
You Dummy    
  Pass Pass 1 NT
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 NT
All pass      

Declarer, Anthony Ker, is a cunning player and awaited to see what would come from a seemingly aggressive opening lead. He was not home yet as he would have to overtake the third round of diamonds. Thus, he still only had 8 tricks. However, on the run of the clubs, West completed a miserable defence by throwing a small diamond… and Anthony had his 9 tricks and 9 very nice imps for Wellington.

So, declarer is 5422 and you only have two diamonds. Was it time to attack that suit against 3NT? Our defender, holding KQ doubleton, decided to start with Diamond-smallQ. Diamonds was not your partner’s suit, however:

Board 10
East Deals
Both Vul
Q 10 9 5 3
K 5 4
K Q
J 5 3
J 8 7 6 2
Q 10 9 6
A 8
Q 4
 
N
W   E
S
 
A K
A 8
10 7 5 4 3 2
A 9 6
 
4
J 7 3 2
J 9 6
K 10 8 7 2
3 NT by West

 

The diamond lead gave declarer the timing needed to make their contract. The lead of any other suit would have worked out much better for the defence. The Diamond-smallA took the first trick with declarer returning the suit. North’s next shot was a low club but West had the timing to make four diamond tricks, two in clubs and three in the majors for 9 tricks.

Did you spot the similarity in the opening leads…from doubleton KQ…both equally unsuccessful? Anyone for a boring 4th highest of your longest and strongest, which would have worked out fine on the above two hands?

and the third lead?

Did I say “on the above 2 hands”? What about the third hand too? Did your partner’s double ask you to lead your own suit? Mine would not….it would suggest the first suit bid by dummy….and so thought West as they led a spade….which was not what was needed, unless you were declarer, Canterbury’s Tim Schumacher:

Match 14

Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
A K 10 6 5
A 10 7 5
3 2
J 2
9 8 4
K Q 4 2
K J 9 7 6
6
 
N
W   E
S
 
Q J 3 2
J 8 6
A Q 10
7 4 3
 
7
9 3
8 5 4
A K Q 10 9 8 5
West North East South
1  1  1 NT 3 NT
Pass Pass Dbl All pass

 They breed them tough down Canterbury way, standing the double with no hold in opener's suit! "That's partner's job" Tim would say. Diamond-small32 was not the stop Tim needed but...all's well that ends with a plus!

To beat 5Club-small requires a heart lead followed by two rounds of trumps by the defence as declarer tries to dispose of their third diamond. Tim had no such worries in 3NTx as he took 10 very quick tricks.

Who mentioned 4th highest leads? Maybe West would have tried one without the double.

Lebensohl’s Day

Lebensohl is a convention which evokes passion both from those who love it and from those who have no time for it. Board 3 of the final match is one Lebensohl lovers will drool over. Under half the pairs reached slam on this board, perhaps because they did not have this tool in their armoury.

What do you bid with this nice collection after your left-hand opponent starts proceedings with a Weak 2 in hearts? Well, you start off with a double….but what next?

Spade-small KQJ65

Heart-small AKJ8

Diamond-small AK

Club-small KT

West              North             East                South

                                                                        2Heart-small

Pass                Pass                x                      Pass

3Club-small                   Pass                ?

Well, you asked partner to bid and they did as you asked… but have they got a one count or a 10 count as they would bid the same way? You could bid 3Spade-small and if partner did raise you, there is a danger of going too high opposite the 1 count (assuming partner interprets 3Spade-small as a force, not strong suggestion of game) or staying too low if you are too conservative.

Naturally, all your problems will be solved if you play Lebensohl where the 3Club-small bid is natural but promises value (7-11 hcp). Thus, now, 3Spade-small is game-forcing and you can safely use Key Card over their 4Spade-small response or else use Roman Key Card as shown below. The only danger would be getting too high as all bar one pair who reached 7Spade-small were defeated by one trick, as they should be:

Board 3
South Deals
E-W Vul
8 7 4
10
10 9 7 2
J 7 5 4 2
A 9 2
9 6
J 8 6
A 9 8 6 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
K Q J 6 5
A K J 8
A K
K 10
 
10 3
Q 7 5 4 3 2
Q 5 4 3
Q
West North East South
Jane Stearns   Di Emms  
      2 
Pass 2  Dbl Pass
3  Pass 4 NT Pass
5  Pass 6 NT All pass

 

Here is the Waikato Bays Women’s pair using this convention. 2Diamond-small was Multi-Coloured with Jane Stearns’ 3Club-small showing 7-11 hcp. Di Emms went straight to Key Card in clubs and with the Club-smallQ missing, signed off in 6NT. This contract is not straightforward for a declarer though East can afford to cash one high heart..and will breathe a big sigh of relief when North produces Heart-small10. 6NT bid and made at both tables in this match but many wished they had bid more and a few a bit less!

Auckland-Northland retain Seniors’ trophy.

Over night after two days, the Seniors’ event looked a tight 3-way battle with Top of The South, Auckland-Northland and Wellington all pretty close. Wellington had the disadvantage of a bye (0 points awarded for a bye) but then had the bottom 2 teams to play. They duly had two good wins but could not catch the top two. Meanwhile, the top two started the last day with two wins each, though Auckland-Northland’s were larger than those of Top of The South. However, these two met in the final round with Auckland-Northland needing any win as they led their rivals 129.91 to 129.77. 

 

Board 11
South Deals
None Vul
Q 6 5
K 6 3 2
Q 10 7 6
Q 6
10 8 7 3
Q 9 8
K J 9
9 8 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 2
7
A 8 5 3
K J 10 7 5 4
 
A K 9 4
A J 10 5 4
4 2
A 2
West North East South
      1 
Pass 3  Dbl 4 
All pass      

 

If East doubles North’s 3Club-small Bergen raise (6-9 hcp with 4 hearts), West has an excellent lead for the defence. Yet, the club lead is probably the most sensible choice from the West hand even without that double. The difference is that the double would show long clubs and therefore probably a shortness somewhere else. If that shortness is in hearts, then South must lead Heart-smallA then Heart-smallJ and finesse (the successful line).

However, with no double, the finesse is not the best action. Play for hearts 2-2 and if that fails, the contract will still succeed if spades break 3-3 (club discard on 4th spade).

For Auckland-Northland, Barry Palmer finessed though the Top of The South declarer played for the drop…10 imps to Auckland-Northland who outscored their opponents with 3 double-figure swings to 1 and who won the match by 7 imps and triumphed by 4.76vps. ..a good tight contest. Congratulations to the winners: Barry Palmer- Neil Stuckey and John O’Connor- Peter Hensman.

IP 18Auckland Northland Seniors team winners (002).jpg
  Clad in their team outfit: Chef de mission Douglas Russell, Barry Palmer, John O'Connor,
Neil Stuckey and Peter Hensman.

Women (down) to the Wire

It did not look to be that close. With three matches to play, Auckland-Northland had a 15vp lead over Waikato Bays and daylight over the rest of the field. However, Otago-Southland had small wins over both the top two which left, when they met in the final round that Auckland-Northland needed just around 3vps to win.

That may not have seemed much but they had to do it the hard way:

Would you bid with the following hand after this quick-fire auction?

West              North             East                South

                        1Heart-small                   Pass                4Heart-small

?

holding, at favourable vulnerability, Spade-small A864  Heart-small K3  Diamond-small KJ5  Club-small A984.

1Heart-small promised four + hearts.

When West produced a take-out double, East did not have a hand to please their partner but could almost have saved the day by passing the double:

Board 5
North Deals
N-S Vul
J 9 7 2
A 10 9 8
A Q
K Q 10
A 8 6 4
K 3
K J 5
A 9 8 4
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 5 3
7 2
8 7 6 4 3 2
3 2
 
K Q
Q J 6 5 4
10 9
J 7 6 5
West North East South
  1  Pass 4 
Dbl Pass 5  Pass
Pass Dbl All pass  

 

4Heart-small x would have only cost Auckland-Northland 5 imps but the 1100 conceded in 5Diamond-smallx cost 10. With plenty of defence to 4Heart-small, North should really have been content to pass even if the South hand could have been a trick or two weaker.

Then,for Waikato Bays, Kathy Yule and Jo Simpson outbid their opponents to reach this excellent slam:

Board 8
West Deals
None Vul
A 8
Q 4 3
K J 8 7 5 3
A 3
K Q 9 6 3
J 7
Q 4 2
8 7 5
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 10 4
10 8 6 5
6
J 10 6 4 2
 
7 5 2
A K 9 2
A 10 9
K Q 9
West North East South
  Jo Simpson   Kathy Yule
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 4  Pass 5 
Pass 6  All pass  

 

The interesting bid was Kathy’s 2Spade-small. Apparently, she was unable to bid a more normal showing bid of 3Club-small though she admitted there was a touch of the psychic about the choice she made. Indeed, the psyche may well have worked had her partner held say Spade-smallQ8. As it was, the club lead did not bother Jo who made 12 comfortable tricks while in the other room 4NT made the same number of tricks on the same lead.

How,though, would you play 4NT on a spade lead?

The imps kept coming Waikato Bays’ way. They won the match by 22imps, agonisingly close as that equated to 15.99 vps leaving the Auckland-Northland team of Linda Cartner-Glenis Palmer and Andi Boughey- Carol Richardson victorious by just 2.16vps.

IP 18  Auckland Womens team (002).jpg
Head and shoulders below their chef de mission are Linda Cartner, Glenis Palmer, Carol Richardson
and Andi Boughey.

A final word about a very well organised event by the Auckland Bridge Club, especially Club President, Murray Weatherston who seemed to be everywhere during the week-end, including airport liaison and caddy! Caroline and Murray Wiggins directed and scored very efficiently while one match per round was covered on BBO. Tony Morcom, dealer of the boards, was also on hand to help most of the weekend.

IP 18  WELL full squad (002).jpg
 Dougal McLean winners for the third year running, Wellington.

It is an event now within reach of most Open and Intermediate tournament players and provided a good competitive climax to our tournament year.

Richard Solomon

 

 

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