Thursday, May 31, 2007

CNTC Semifinal Scores

Here are the results so far, hands will be coming later:

CNTC Semi Finals:

Thurston 67 109
Ballantyne 28 47

Molson 51 81

Frukacz 45 85

CWTC Finals:

Caley 76 118
Gordon 47 91

The CBC radio segment went well, although it was only available locally and unfortunately there is no recording on the internet. It was a lot of fun to be on the radio talking about bridge!

CBC Radio

If you're in the Winnipeg area, tune into CBC radio tomorrow morning at 8:15am to listen to Susie and Danny Miles be interviewed about junior bridge! CBC Radio is doing a segment on the growing popularity of bridge.

If we can, we'll post a link to the clip later.

Winnipeg Quarterfinal Results


Thurston 178
Todd 133

Bowman 128
Frukacz 164

Chevalier 162
Ballantyne 170

Molson 146
Nowlan 75

Matches for tomorrow are Molson/Frukacz and Thurston/Ballantyne.


Caley 156
Adachi 128

Gordon 160
Culham 118

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Winnipeg CWTC, Quarterfinals

I've had a request for the current scores in the CWTC- here are the results I have.

Caley 47 76 127
Adachi 38 64 98

Gordon 43 91 125
Culham 42 57 76

I'll update with the finals later.

Winnipeg CNTC, Day Five- Quarterfinals

Here are the results so far as we have them:

Team 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q
Thurston 29 62 106
Todd 52 87 103

Molson 44 77 146 --
Nowlan 36 64 75 WD

Bowman 34 90 117
Frukacz 20 68 98

Chevalier 48 77 130
Ballantyne 41 71 121

There appears to be an error on the CBF site; these scores have been verified and are correct as of 5pm Winnipeg time.

I also now have 3rd quarter results for Molson, and I will try to update later with results for the other matches and some hands.

Molson really turned on the heat in the 3rd quarter to pick up 69 IMPs and allow only 11. Nowlan has conceded the match- Molson will advance to the semifinals!

Here are some hands from the 3rd quarter:

And the auction went:

After David bid 2S, I knew of the double fit, and I thought that we just might have a game if David had perfect cards. I bid 3S (semi-preemptive, mildly invitational) just in case David could raise to 4S. He knew all his cards were working and took a shot at game. With the friendly layout, 10 tricks were easy and we won 10 IMPs.

This hand drove another nail into Nowlan's coffin:

The auction was not what West wanted to hear after his aggressive preempt.

Our defense was ruthless. David led his singleton heart, and I played the hA (finessing against declarer's queen was very unlikely to gain). I returned the hJ, suit preference for spades, and David ruffed and underled to my sK. I played another heart, ruffed, and David cashed a spade and exited a spade. I won my cK and David still had two trumps to come for +800. Our teammates were +50 against 3NT and that was worth 13 IMPs.

David and I had our best card so far of the tournament this set. It seemed everything we did turned to gold. Hopefully we can build on this momentum and carry some over to tomorrow.

We have the evening off as the opponents withdrew, and will probably head to Tony Roma's for a nice rib dinner, and then head back and watch a movie or the basketball game just to relax.

Winnipeg CNTC, Final Round Robin Results

There was a surprising upset in the final match of the round robin; unfortunately L'Ecuyer was blitzed and slipped out of qualifying position.

Here are the final standings:

1. Thurston, 407 VPs
2. Molson, 376 VPs
3. Bowman, 362 VPs
4. Chevalier, 351 VPs
5. Nowlan, 351 VPs
6. Todd, 340 VPs
7. Frukacz, 340 VPs
8. Ballantyne, 340 VPs

The next four teams were:

9. L'Ecuyer, 326 VPs
10. Jotcham, 323 VPs
11. Bertrand, 322 VPs
12. Dowdall, 315 VPs

The quarterfinal matchups for tomorrow are Thurston/Todd, Molson/Nowlan, Bowman/Frukacz, and Chevalier/Ballantyne.

There were a few interesting hands from the last match and we'll update when we can. Game time tomorrow is 10am, and Dan and David are sleeping in for the first quarter. I'll post updates as I get them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Winnipeg CNTC Day 4 (Evening)

Tonight, in the match after dinner, we played against Waldemar Frukacz's team. The boards were a little flatter than usual, and the biggest swing in our favour was 7 IMPs. However, David and I were flawless on the many partscore deals, and won 5, 7, 1, 6, 6, and 5 IMPs on them. Although there was a 12 IMP swing against us, this was the only adverse swing and was still good enough for a +18 IMP win, which translates into a 20-10 VP victory.

A brutal hand that my RHO opponent had to suffer through:

When I saved in 4S (who knows, once in a while these things even make!), my LHO thought for ages and finally bid 5C. Perhaps the correct call would be a forcing pass, leaving the decision up to his partner.

I led a diamond from the South hand, and David's queen lost to declarer's king. Declarer led the cQ to the cA, and happily tried to cash diamonds to dispose of a spade. It was a shock to him when David ruffed the 3rd diamond!! Now, he cashed the hKQ and tried to overtake the hJ with the hA, but he knew it was in vain and went down one. In order to make this hand, he had to unblock the hKQJ before trying to cash diamonds, but this is only necessary when I have a side 6 card diamond suit, and otherwise may cost the contract whenever I have 4 hearts. We won 5 IMPs on this hand when Arno led a trump against 4Sx and ended up +100.

We are sitting in 2nd place and can't finish any worse than 3rd. David and I are out the final round robin match as well as the 1st quarter tomorrow (we both like to sleep!) Tomorrow the knockout phase starts. We'll let you know the final round robin standings as well as our knockout draw as soon as we know.

Winnipeg CNTC, Day Four (Afternoon)

In the second match, we played against the Bertrand team. The set looked decent to me and David (we had one clear large swing against us but we did everything else right). We bid a very thin NV 3NT, we jockeyed the opponents to the five level and set them a trick, and we took a successful unfavourable sacrifice against the opponents' game.

However, the big swing at our table ended up being a lose 16 swing. Actually, the opponents stumbled into a lucky 6C and made it, but 6C was never really on our radar (it was impossible to bid intelligently), so even had we played 5C and made it we would have lost 13 IMPs.

In fact, our counterparts at the other table duplicated all of our good results except one! They also bid the thin 3NT, took the unfavourable sacrifice, and duplicated numerous other plus partscore positions. We did pick up 12 IMPs where George and Arno were allowed to play in 4H for +620 where we pushed the opponents up to 5H for -100, but the end result was a loss by 11 IMPs. It's somewhat unusual to have your opponents play so well or luckily as to duplicate your plus positions, but that's bridge. There wasn't really much our team could do in this match, I think.

We received 12 VPs for this round.

After 18 matches, with only 3 left to play, the leaderboard looks like this:

1. Thurston, 345
2. Bowman, 322
3. Molson, 321
4. Todd, 297
5/6 Ballantyne, 296
5/6 L'Ecuyer, 296
7. Chevalier, 295
8/9 Jotcham, 289
8/9 Nowlan, 289
10. Frukacz, 288

Its still a dogfight near the bottom of the qualifiers, and team Molson is in a fight for 2nd place with Bowman. It is unlikely that any of the top three teams will drop lower than 3rd but anything is of course possible.

Winnipeg CNTC, Day Four

Today's schedule began at 11am versus Laframboise, who was sitting in 21st place. Dan and David had the first match off to sleep in as they have been playing a majority of the matches so far.

The Molson team had a good set to win 23-7 in VPs. I don't have any hands right now as the next match began almost immediately but I will try to update later with hands from the afternoon matches. Molson is currently playing Bertrand, who are sitting 12th after 17 matches.

Here's a hand that Arno Hobart gave me from last night's match against Thurston that he found interesting.

This is board 19, E/W vul.

The auction proceeded:

The interesting feature of this hand is really the vulnerability; Arno, sitting East, took a vulnerable save against a non vulnerable game. The other interesting thing to note is that both games make except against a specific lead.

Arno's 4S bid was great as 3N makes except on the lead of the sK. 4S will also make unless North leads the cK.

The final result at the table was 5D down one.

Jerry Richardson also gave me a neat defensive problem from yesterday afternoon. Try it with one hand first on the auction:

You hold: A76 A4 J9873 T43, and partner leads the ace of diamonds (A from AK).
Dummy comes down with KQ98 J62 2 AJ762. You play the nine of diamonds (somewhat suit preference), and partner switches to a trump which you win with the ace. What's your plan to defeat the contract?

The winning play is to return a diamond. How can declarer get off dummy? If he plays a trump, the defense has a good diamond to cash when in with the sA, so he has to exit with the sK. The defense's best try is to duck the sK, and now to make the hand, declarer must exit a low spade, then later use a club entry to ruff out the sA tripleton.

So although it is possible to make it double dummy, in practice declarer will go wrong more often than not.

Here is the full hand:

Winnipeg CNTC, Day Three (Night)

There were two more matches scheduled after the dinner break, both with an element of suspense as team Molson met L'Ecuyer in the fifth match and Thurston in the sixth match.

Here's a great hand from the L'Ecuyer match:

And the auction went:

Sitting South as usual, Dan decided to lead a heart, not only because it looked like it might be a promising source of tricks, but also because declarer might need to use the heart suit as transportation. A club lead was unthinkable with the cK almost certainly on his right.

On receiving the h2 lead, Nader Hanna went into a long trance and eventually called for the hQ, losing to David's hK. David returned a club.

At this point, Dan knew that declarer almost certainly did not have Qxx of diamonds (or the hand would play itself), so there was a way to guarantee defeat of the contract. Do you see it?

Dan shifted to a diamond! No matter where declarer wins this trick, he ends up being cut off from one hand or the other. In fact, Nader started running diamonds and Dan claimed 2 more heart tricks and the ace of clubs for +50. At the other table, the defender, perhaps mesmerized by the heart suit, cleared hearts and waited to get in with the cA. He's still waiting and Molson won 10 IMPs.

A tough push board:

The auction went:

Dan tends to preempt quite soundly, so when he opened the South cards 4C, David could still envision a possible slam. He bid keycard, Dan showed 1 with the cQ, and we ended in 6C. Bryan Maksymetz found the best lead of a heart, but with diamonds 3-3 Dan was soon scoring up +920. At the other table, the auction went 5C-P-6C-PPP for a push.

The final result in the match was 17-13 VPs for Molson.

The last set of hands was quite swingy and there were a lot of IMPs up for grabs. Team Molson played against Thurston, the leaders after 15 matches. Here is one of the interesting hands, board 13.

The auction went:

2D was natural and invitational, and 3H was a splinter, confirming diamonds as trumps. After Dan's 4H cue, David could simply have bid 7D, but he bid RKCB for safety's sake and they soon ended in 7D. Dan claimed at trick 1.

At the other table, Dan's teammates got into the auction (in fact, they got all the way up to 4S!), so it was more difficult for our opponents to investigate for 7. In fact, they ended in 6 and team Molson won 13 IMPs.

Although George and Arno had a very good set, David and Dan were too sloppy (starting at 8:30am had taken its toll), and this combined with a bit of bad luck ended up turning what could have been a comfortable victory into a narrow loss, 14-16 in VPs.

Here are the standings after 16 matches:

Thurston, 305 VPs
Molson, 286 VPs
Bowman, 283 VPs
Ballantyne, 272 VPs
L'Ecuyer, 272 VPs
Todd, 268 VPs
Chevalier, 266 VPs
Bart, 261 VPs

We've also been asked if we like to get comments. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions by commenting. We'd love to hear your feedback.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Winnipeg CNTC, Day Three

Here's a midafternoon update on the results of the first three matches today. The event began at 8:30 am (ouch!) to allow time to complete six matches.

Team Molson's first match was against Jotcham, and here's a hand that won 10 IMPs.

And the auction went:

Over David's vulnerable notrump and transfer acceptance, Dan had a decision to make with the South cards. Unfortunately, he and David do not have a way to show a shapely invite with a spade suit, so he was forced to decide whether or not to overbid with 2NT or pass and risk missing a game. Well, Dan loves to score up a vulnerable game (don't we all!), so he held his breath and bid the aggressive 2NT. David's 3NT was not exactly what he wanted to hear (Dan was hoping for a spade fit), but with the round suits behaving beautifully 3NT rolled home for +600. At the other table, Ray Jotcham played in 3C.

Here's another hand from the same match.

The auction began:

What would you bid over 2NT with the West cards?

A lot of good players around the room passed 2NT, figuring that bidding was just gambling. You can see that 2NT is a poor contract and went down 1 on a spade lead.

David Sabourin and Jeff Smith were able to open 2C with the East hand, playing a system with an artificial 2NT opening, and responded 2NT showing a weak hand with the minors! They rested in 3D, making 5 for +150 with the friendly layout. Better than passing 2NT, but not as good as either pair in our match.

Jim Priebe with the West cards bid a hyper-aggressive 3C, Stayman, gambling on a heart fit. Right he was! With this layout there was no way to go down in 4H and Alan Lee made for +620.

Dan's teammate, Dan Jacob, chose to transfer to hearts with the West cards, and Arno of course super-accepted and made an overtrick! Two different unorthodox routes but two stellar results.

What do you think of Jim's Stayman and Jacob's transfer? Both were high-risk, high-reward actions, but we prefer the transfer to a Stayman bid, which will usually end in a very silly 3NT contract that may drift off 3 or 4 tricks, vulnerable.

The final result in the match was 17-13 VPs for team Molson.

Dan's team played Team Todd in the second match, and here is an interesting board.

And the auction went:

David led a low heart, and Dave McClelland guessed hearts normally for +980. At the other table, the player with Dan's cards doubled the heart cuebid holding only the Ace (a questionable decision, in our view, but certainly the right one here). Now our teammates judged well based on the information available to stop in 4S and were a bit surprised to find the hQ onside after all.

The final result in that match was 6-24 VPs for team Molson.

The third match of the day was against team Rayner.

On board six Dan engineered a swing.

Dan opened 1NT on the South cards and David raised to 3NT. We agree with David's decision not to bid Stayman because the hand is very flat; Stayman might lead either to an inferior 4S or simply give the opponents more help on defense.

West led the h4, Dan tried the h9 from dummy, and won East's hT with the hK. Dan crossed to dummy in spades and led the cQ which was covered. Dan then cashed out the spades, which were 3-3, and on the fourth spade both opponents discarded diamonds.

At this point, Dan was reasonably sure that the hearts were 5-3, since with 4 hearts East would likely have preferred to discard one rather than a diamond. After cashing the cT, felling West's c7, Dan led dummy's last club and finessed against the c9! He reasoned that with West having 8 major suit cards to East's 6, the finesse was a slight favourite over the drop. In addition, if the assumption about hearts was correct, West and East were wildly unlikely both to throw low diamonds -- East would have played the d4 holding a great 5 card suit. +400 versus the other table's -50 (declarer played for the drop) was a great result.

The final result in the match was 19-11 VPs for team Molson.

The fourth match is currently in play. George Mittelman has finally arrived so he and Arno will be playing the rest of the matches.

Dan and David are sitting out this match but will be playing later against L'Ecuyer and Thurston- check back later for results!

Here are the results after 13 matches:

Thurston, 260 VPs
Bowman, 244 VPs
Molson, 237 VPs
L'Ecuyer, 233 VPs
Ballantyne, 228 VPs
Chevalier, 215 VPs
Todd, 214 VPs
Bart, 212 VPs

Winnipeg CNTC Flight B

Here's a hand from the first day of the CNTC-B, which began a day after the flight A event. Team Yurkowski had a great result on this hand:

Here's the auction. Although it may not be a typical auction, it propelled the North South pair of Dave Brett (North) and Alan Lee (South) to a great slam which goes down only on a heart lead.

Bidding the slam won the team 17 IMPs, and they are sitting seventh after five matches. Four teams will qualify for the knockout phase out of fourteen, and they are currently 5 VPs out of a qualifying spot.

Leaders after Day 2 (10/21 matches)

1. Bowman, 205 VPs
2. Molson, 195 VPs
3. Thurston, 191 VPs
4. Chevalier, 171 VPs
5. Bart, 170 VPs
6/7. Bertrand, 168 VPs
6/7. L'Ecuyer, 168 VPs
8/9. Jotcham, 166 VPs
8/9. Todd, 166 VPs

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Winnipeg CNTC, Day Two (Night)

At 7:00pm the 4th match of the day started, and it was against the team right behind us in the standings, the Bowman team. At our table, we played against John and Bill Bowman (brothers).

They played extremely well against us, doing almost everything right. We had a solid set as well, but most of the decisions were E/W so we were idling for a number of boards.

The Bowmans did extremely well on this board, which earned them 11 IMPs:

With us silent, they bid:

An excellent result on a board that could be difficult to manage, especially since RKCB will leave you worrying about the keycard and trump queen issue.

Athough it felt pretty even at our table, our teammates had a disastrous set and we lost by 30. Now the Bowman team had a clear lead over us for 1st place, and we had a comfortable lead over the 3rd-place Thurston team.

The final match tonight had some wild hands. David and I had a solid card with only one bad board:


You will be able to tell by the auction, starting on my right, that our opponents were not experts:

This had to lose a club and a diamond and we were one down. David had an impossible decision over 5C I think, holding 4 seemingly working cards and a nice fit with me. I don't blame him for his raise to 6C. At the other table (get this!) the auction went (2S)-5C-(P)-P!!-P for +400!! Seems pretty deep to me to pass the North cards on that auction. I'd sooner bid 7C than pass!

Anyway, our teammates had one bad board of their own but both tables were otherwise solid and we were able to win by 18 for a 20-10 VP win.

We'll post the scores after 10 rounds when they are posted.

Tomorrow morning it starts at 8:30am as they have to get six matches in. I don't really like the sound of that! We have to play against the tough Jotcham team, too. Ah, well!

Winnipeg CNTC, Day Two

Welcome to the second day of the CNTC round robin. After a pretty good night's sleep, I got up at 10:45, scrambled upstairs to grab some breakfast (eep -- nothing left!), and headed to the playing site. I grumbled to Arno that there wasn't any fruit left, and he was gentleman enough to head out and find me a banana and an orange! So I was in a pretty good mood.
The first match today was at 11 am Winnipeg time. We played against Peter Jones’ team. David and I had a few soft results, playing 3NT down 1 a couple times instead of 2NT +120, and we got robbed blind on this deal:

The auction went, believe it or not with no one vulnerable:

Despite being cold for 4S, we never got in the auction! Actually, once East finds the splinter bid of 3H, I can’t see how either of us could really come in. Our teammates were +110 on this hand as they stole the pot in 3D! Tough hand, I guess.

However, we had some very good results, including a tough-to-bid 3NT on 17 opposite 7 as well as a very thin vulnerable 4H that David made while his counterpart went down 3 in 3NT for 14 more IMPs.

We ended up winning 38-9 which was good for a 23-7 VP showing.

In the second match we played against the Sired team from Edmonton. I would have to say this was the sloppiest all around match I have seen in a while. On the first board, our opponents bid 2NT-3C-3S-4NT-P, and played there instead of their 10 card spade fit (LHO thought 4NT was keycard, which it isn’t). That was 13 gift-wrapped IMPs. The board after that the opponents found an 8-card heart fit, then managed to stop on a dime in 2NT which made exactly as we lost 6 IMPs. The board after that, my RHO found an inspired spade lead from Kx (my bid suit) against 4H, which was the only lead to set 4H (David went down two). At the other table they were +110 with our cards so that was another unfortunate 5 IMPs away.

(Sorry, there won’t be as many hands for these three matches as they ran out of hand records.)

It gets better; the board after that I went for -1400 (no that’s not a typo). I feel my action was eminently reasonable, although risky, and would do it again. Actually, I could have held it to -1100, which would have saved 2 IMPs. Our teammates were wonderful and never said a word, and only later at dinner did they even ask what the contract had been. Also, neither David nor I said a word at the table, and just continued on to the next board. This is how bridge should be played, because it takes enough of your energy and balance to perform consistently, and if you feel you are being accosted from any side it is all too easy to make even more errors.

We bid a few thin vulnerable games that were actually quite good and both made easily that were missed at the other table to scoop 20 IMPs back, and watched declarer butcher a 4S hand that was cold for 5 to go down one. Unfortunately, that was one of Lebi and Jacob’s few bad boards so far this event, as they played in 6S down 1 for a push!

On the last board of the set, David was in a decent 4H but took a view in the trump suit (his LHO had opened 3S) and instead of making 4 went down 2. However, this only cost 1 IMP as the timid souls at the other table let Lebi play in 2S and somehow make two overtricks!

Speaking of our teammates, I have found that all of them (yes, all of them) are actually extremely nice guys and very supportive. They definitely have “been there before” and know the importance of team harmony, and are fun to be around. Arno in particular would give you the shirt off his back. It’s always nice to play on a team where not only are you confident about the results coming in from the other table, but where the guys are genuinely nice to each other.

In this match, an old team member of mine was kibitzing, Jose Theyeril, and it was good to see him again. We were both a part of the team that won the 2001 inaugural CNTC-B event.

Anyway, after all the large swings were added up, we won 37-26 for an 11 IMP win, which translates to 18-12 in VP. We actually gained ground on the Bowman team as they finally lost a match. We are now leading the event by 10 VP with a score of 151.

The third match today we played against Dick Anderson’s team (he and his wife, Jan, basically run the CBF). We had a few soft boards but also had some good ones. Our counterparts at the other table bid a thin NV 3NT that, as it turned out, needed diamonds to come in with KQ98xx opposite Tx for 5 tricks. The jack was onside and we lost 6 IMPs.

Then there was the absolutely brutal board 35, where I picked up: Q T987xx AKJ Jxx. I really didn’t like it, but at favourable vulnerability I felt that I should open this collection 1H. Well, David responded 2C, I bid 2H, he raised to 3H, and I took my weakest possible action with 4H. David wasn’t done yet, and cuebid 4S. At this point, it sounded to me like he had a good hand and was fishing for a diamond control. I thought that I could simplify the auction by bidding 4NT, which turned out poorly when his response was 5S! Now we are off two keycards and I was forced to bid 6H. Even still, the slam could easily have play if one of those keycards is the hK. Unfortunately, RHO doubled 6H for a club lead. Our two hands:

RHO forgot to cash his sA, so he got only the cAKQ for -300. Perhaps you wouldn’t bid our cards the way we did, but in fact no game makes on these cards! 4H is off 4 top tricks, which our teammates duly cashed, and even 3NT is down on a non-diamond lead due to the insane blockages. Ugly!

Anyway, we ended up winning by 9 IMPs which translates to a 17-13 win. We are still 8-0 and on top of the leaderboard with 168 VP, but the Bowman team is only 2 VP behind us. We play them in the next match, as a matter of fact.


1. Molson, 168 VPs

2. Bowman, 166 VPs
3. Thurston, 152 VPs
4. Bart, 141 VPs
5. L’Ecuyer, 138 VPs
6/8 Bertrand, 136 VPs
Ballantyne, 136 VPs
Todd, 136 VPs

Winnipeg CNTC, Day One (Night)

Dan's team (Team Molson) won their fifth match 20-10 to be leading the event narrowly after round five.

Here's a hand from the fifth match, when David Grainger was playing with Arno Hobart in a brand new partnership (as not all team members have arrived). You hold: AT98x 8xxxx ATx void. The auction starts on your left and goes:

What do you do at this point? At the table, David passed, and LHO bid 5C, which Arno doubled and it went down two for 300, a 5 IMP pickup.

Eight teams out of twenty two will qualify for the knockout phase of this event. The current top eight teams are:

Molson, 110 VPs
Bowman, 108 VPs
Todd, 102 VPs
Dowdall, 90 VPs
Frakacz, 87 VPs
Chevalier, 85 VPs
Bart, 83 VPs
Thurston, 83 VPs.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Winnipeg CNTC, Day One

We arrived this morning in Winnipeg at 9:30 and caught a cab over to the Clarion Inn, the playing site. It's rainy and cool here in Winnipeg but we've been told that it should get nicer as the week goes on.

Five matches were scheduled for today, and I played in four of them. It was nearing game time for the first match, versus Dowdall and my partner was nowhere to be seen! David Grainger had a close connection and with 5 minutes to game time simply wasn't there yet. Arno Hobart was around and we quickly scratched out a basic card. David arrived just around game time, but Arno and I decided to play together anyway.

The first set had a large number of absolutely brutal hands (there were two 5-0 and two 6-0 breaks) and the cards rewarded those who were able to stay low on these tricky deals. We won the first match by 23 to take it 21-9 in VP. A couple deals where Arno and I did well:

I opened the South cards 1D, and the auction proceeded:

to Arno with the North cards. He double-checked with his screenmate that 2S was indeed natural, and spent quite a while thinking. Eventually he decided that we could still have a slam pretty easily so defending 2S was not the way to go. He bid 3C and we were +130 despite the foul breaks.

Despite E/W's total of 27 HCP and exciting distribution, the horrible breaks doom any game contract to fail. At our table, the auction went, starting with Arno:

I guessed to double 3NT with the South cards, not only because I thought it would fail, but also because I was dying for the opponents to run to one of their suits. My dream became a reality when they escaped to hearts (!) but we didn't get rich against it because of the extreme E/W distribution.

In the second match, versus Nowlon, there weren't that many interesting hands. We scored a 5 imp pickup when I chose not to jumpshift with AQT82 A AJT8 QJT (a clear 2D rebid in our style). Partner passed 2D and hit with -- QJ9xx Q752 8743. I made 3D while they went down in 5D at the other table. The only large swing in our favour occurred on the final board of the match, where we cashed our 3 aces and declarer had to guess the hQ with AKJxxx opposite T9x. He tried to split them 2-2 and went down 1, when finessing would have landed the contract. Either our teammate did well to guess the queen or the defense was friendly, but either way that was 10 IMPs. We won this match 28-14 for a 20-10 win in VPs. We're now standing at 40 VP which is a promising start.

The third match, against Tolson, was a bit of a breather. The husband-wife pair at our table, the Pritchards, played well against us I thought, and even bid a brilliant (well, ok, lucky) 4H for +420 to earn their team 8 IMPs. However, the tough hands lay our way, and David and I got almost all of them right. The only one that was a possible swing against us was

We bid these cards to 6D via 2NT-4NT-5NT-6D-P. The heart finesse lost at trick 1 and no squeeze materialized, so this decent (54%) slam went down. I'm sure David couldn't help but feel a little unlucky to buy mirror distribution in the majors from my 2NT opener.

However, we bid two very easy slams that weren't duplicated for 26 IMPs, set a 4H game two tricks for another 12, set another 4H for 11, and went plus on a very difficult deal:

With everyone vulnerable, the bidding went:

East's 1NT was of the 12-14 variety, and West's 2S was to play. David doubled for takeout, and I had to make a decision with the South cards. At matchpoints, this sort of thing is easy, as the weak notrump sometimes forces you to gamble for a top or bottom and the percentages favour 2S going down. At IMPs, however, teammates aren't exactly enamored of that reasoning when you bring back -670!! This time, however, David found the excellent trump lead which I ducked, and we ended up taking two trumps, three diamonds, and the heart ace for a nervous +200. Most pairs in the room bid our cards to 4H and got butchered on the brutal lie of the cards. This was good for 11 IMPs as Lebi at the other table didn't double 4H on the East cards and chalked up +300.

We won this match 67-13 which translates to 25-2 in VPs. We were now sitting at 65 for the day, just behind the Bowmans' team at 67.

After dinner it was time for the fourth match, against Morin. The very first board, I opened 1D and David picked up AT98xxx T6 void Jxxx, at favourable vulnerability. He bid 1S, I raised to 2S on KQx QJxx AJ9x xx, my LHO came in with a late double, and David decided to bounce to 4S. When the opponents didn't lead hearts in time, that was +420 and 11 IMPs on the first board. A few boards later, David picked up (I kid you not!) -- KQJ9xxx -- 987xxx. With everyone vulnerable, I passed as dealer, his RHO opened 1D, and he leapt to 4H. He said after the round that he was not expecting it to go Pass-Pass-Pass! Anyway, he bought a very fine dummy, KJxx AT T86xxx K and was able to make it exactly for another 11 IMPs when our teammates were -100 in something or other.

Then I picked up A J86 KQ643 AKQ9. A pretty good hand. I opened 1D and David responded 1H. Many players would reflexively jump to 3C here for fear of missing game, but that is not really our style: on a complex hand we try to avoid jump-shifting if at all possible. I rebid a gentle 2C, and David corrected to 2D. Now, I decided my hand was too strong for a simple forward-going correction to 2H, which could easily be made on an Ace less, so I jumped to 3H. This completed the picture of a strong 1-3-5-4 and David continued to 4H with xxx A7xxx Axx xx. He lost two trump tricks for +450 which was good for 11 IMPs when the auction at the other table skyrocketed to slam. Note how uncomfortable the hands are to bid after a start of 1D-P-1H-P-3C-P-?

Our teammates were very good in this match, as in the others, and we won 40-1 for a 25-5 VP win. We are now sitting on top of the leaderboard, and although the event is still very young, having scored 90 VP out of a possible 100 VP is encouraging. I am sitting out the last match against Snowling as I am too tired to play after being up at 5am Winnipeg time for our flight, so David is playing with Arno. I won't have any hands from the fifth match but we'll keep you updated on the standings!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Winnipeg, here we come!

We're off to Winnipeg on Saturday morning for the Canadian National Team Championships! Dan is playing with David Grainger on a team with George Mittelman, Arno Hobart, Dan Jacob, and Robert Lebi. Wish them luck- hopefully they will go all the way!

We'll be updating the blog daily with hands and results, so check back frequently!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Online Poker

I know this is a bridge blog but I thought I'd share a bit about online poker. Tonight I made it to the final 3 of a 197 person tourney with a $5.50 buyin. I was sitting second in chips when our internet connection died! It was over five minutes before we got it back up, and by then the tournament was over and I had blinded out in 3rd place. What a disappointment! I still made a good payday but I was "in the zone" and felt like I was going to win it.

Dan and I started playing two years ago on Ultimate Bet, and in general we were fairly happy with the site and the layout. However, due to some recent issues with withdrawing funds, we've decided to switch to Full Tilt Poker. They have a great variety of ring games and tournaments. They spread everything from limit and no limit Hold'Em to Omaha to Horse, and their tournaments feature large starting stacks and a slower blind structure than many other online sites.

If you'd like to play poker online and don't have an account, you can sign up for one through this link, and you'll not only receive a 100% deposit bonus, but you'll get 30% of the casino rake money given back to you, for life! This deal is available on Absolute Poker, Full Tilt, Ultimate Bet, Cake Poker, Interpoker, Sun Poker, Fortune Poker, BetSafe, and Mansion Poker, as long as you sign up here.

Online poker can be very profitable (especially if you play multiple tables), and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the game! It's a cheap way to improve your skills, and we learned a lot while moving up in limits. You can start at tables as low as $0.01-$0.02 limit and become a better player.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Hand From BBO

Susie and I often decide to play for an hour or two at random times. The past few nights we have played a game against our friends Chuck Arthur and David Clement around midnight. David is a friend of mine from highschool who is currently doing graduate work in mathematics at Cornell. A smart guy.

Here is a cute hand from our match last night:

I think 95% of players would respond 1H with my hand to 1D, but Susie and I allow for a bit of free-wheeling in the bidding. If we have an "unbiddable" major and a reasonable alternative, we allow ourselves to skip that suit. This explains my 1S response to 1D. Susie of course rebid 2NT to show her 18 points and I raised to 3NT.

Well, as luck would have it, we DID miss our heart fit, but hearts were 5-0 offside!! David, with no idea that we had bid this way, led a normal heart and Susie won in hand with the 9. Susie now had eight top tricks and could lead toward the cK for a 9th, but she found an even better line. She started by cashing one more heart, and then four rounds of spades, discarding a diamond from her hand. She learned that Chuck had started with 3 spades and no hearts, therefore 10 minor suit cards. David discarded a diamond on the fourth spade. Also, Chuck had quite painlessly discarded clubs all three times he had to discard.

It was very likely that Chuck had started with 3-0-3-7 or 3-0-4-6 from his discards. Susie found a great line that allowed her to get more information before guessing the clubs, by exiting with Ace and a diamond: chuck won the King of diamonds, felling David's queen. Chuck cashed the dJ, then exited with a low club.

Decision time: Chuck either had started with xxx -- KJx AT9xxxx or xxx -- KJx QT9xxxx. Susie correctly judged that Chuck would not have stayed silent throughout with the first hand and ducked the club around to the Jack, making 3NT. A well played hand and a triumph for farmer's bidding!