Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Dog Shawnee and the Queen of Diamonds

West opens 1, your partner passes and East also. You have:

Have you discussed with your partner balancing bids in 4th seat? No? Well, you have a lot of work to do.

Let's say you reopen with 1NT, 11-16 over a major opening, with or without a stopper (nothing's perfect). West rebids 2 and your partner doubles, negative. What is your bid?

As your range (11-16) is quite large, you have now to bid your hand to the fullest. So you jump to 3♠, showing 4 cards and a maximum. Your partner bids 4♠ and everybody passes.

West leads the heart king.

You swear silently against your partner (you will understand later why silently). Why did't she (yes, it is my wife) bid 3NT? But now is not the time for recriminations, you have to make 10 tricks.

You duck the lead and LHO plays back a small heart.

He was end played on the lead with most probably KQ of hearts, the Queen of diamonds and AQ of clubs.

He could have played back a spade, but he didn't want to squeeze his partner's trump holding (he doesn't know your spades are anaemic).

You win with your heart Jack and... pause. Count!

West has repeated his hearts, so he has 6. Spades are probably 4-2. So East has 4 spades and 2 hearts (if he has 5 spades, it will be verrrrrry difficult).

He will always make a spade trick, so why not give it to him now? But in a peculiar way!

You are not the best player of the club for nothing. My idol Julius Caesar used to say: "Better to be 1st in Ste-Adele than 2nd in Buenos Aires!"

He was not talking about bridge, but we can transpose and use those famous sentences in other circumstances, can't we?

You play a club.

West jumps with his Ace and plays back a 3rd heart, ruffed by East, killing your Ace. But that heart Ace was useless anyway.

Opponents must believe you have lost your mind (your wife and partner looks absolutely certain you are crazy), but you are not the best player of that club for nothing, I repeat! They don't know it yet, but you are in the process of counting the hand. So you sacrificed the Ace of hearts for the big picture, opponents being reduced, in your superior mind, to mere pawns in your brilliant plan of making the contract.

After his ruff, East, endplayed now, plays back a club; small, Queen and King from dummy.

How will you play the diamonds?

First you have to play the spades and clubs to obtain the count.

Small spade to your Ace, Queen of spades (West had 2, like you pictured) and a 3rd spade to dummy's King.

Then Jack of clubs, both following, and small club ruffed, West pitching a heart on the 4th club.

The hands were then:

The position is now:

The Queen of diamond is the card you have to find now.

You play against club players who open majors with 9 points and minors with 14, and who never alert! They often play 70%, but never against you! Enough with the hesitations and bad mouthing.

Where is that Queen of diamonds?

Barry Crane, the world's greatest matchpoint player (May he rest in peace. He was assassinated 2 or 3 months after calling the director against my wife. She assures me it was not her. Now I always swear silently, as you saw previously, that is why I am still alive. You live and you learn, they say. In my case, You learn and you live), so Barry Crane said the reason for his successes was called Oscar, a mythical bird that would stand on his left shoulder and tell him how the cards lie.

Well, in my case, it is not a bird, but my Airedale dog, Shawnee, who sits down on my left (not on my shoulder, she weighs 75 pounds!) and who, depending on the card I am looking for, puts her left paw on my lap (telling me the card is on my left) or her right paw (I let you conclude).

Either that, or she wants a cookie! :)

She can also push me with her nose: twice, the card is on my left; once, well... you should know by now. Either that, or she needs to go out.

All this nonsense to tell you I don't know where is the damn Queen of diamond.

I know West has 2 diamonds and East, 3. So 3 chances for the Queen to be on my right, and 2 on my left.

But these scoundrels open majors with 9 points, and weak 2's with 5 to 8, but sometimes they have 7 cards and 11 points.

No alert, ever.

I give a look to Shawnee, she looks back at me with teary eyes, then closes her eyes, opens them again, looks to the side. It is obvious she is at a complete loss: no paw, no push with the nose. These players are so unpredictable (even them sometimes, they don't know what they are doing) that she is mystified. Poor me! I am all alone. Even my dog is abandoning me.

I have been thinking for at least 2 minutes, torn between 2 lines of play.

Then I see how I will play those diamonds. A clue? It is worth what it is worth but I want those players to suffer, I want to give them false hopes and then, at the instant they will think they have me, crush them (the hopes, not the players). Did I tell you I was the best player of that club? Yes? Just in case you forgot.

So I play the 9 of diamonds from hand. Has West hesitated a bit? He follows with this microscopic slowness that looks too quick (WOW!) and you know then you got him. Ace from dummy, small from East.

Small diamond from dummy, small to your right, King from hand, QUEEN!!!

Wouf, wouf, says Shawnee!!


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