Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Bridge and Running … my two loves, different, different but the same

I have played bridge since I was about 18. I started playing with Mark, the boy next door and we had some late night games with Mark’s friends. I read books by Charles Goren and as a  counsellor at summer camp taught bridge as a night-time activity to campers who actually thought I knew how to play. At university I feel in with the bridge crowd. All men but me who cared more (a lot more) about bridge than studies. Off and on since then I have played for fun, competed, directed games,taught and wrote about bridge.

A few years ago I retired from my main way of making money: directing large complex computer projects and other related activities. This was a really high stress occupation and frankly though I loved it I had had enough. I became a “full-time” part-time worker at Master Point Press. Now I had time to do other things. I had never been much of an athlete but I had always been a walker… I mean a serious walker, miles and miles of walking.  Eventually in the winter of 2013 this led to a running program and in the time since running has been my avocation. (No, I haven’t given up on bridge. I still teach. i still play (mostly online). I still keep my bridge mind in shape through some work at Master Point Press.) I also muck around with tennis.

If you are ever interested in running the running equivalent of the ACBL’s Learn to Play Bridge is C25K. I love the name… Couch Potato to 5K (or 3.1 miles). Pretty much anyone who is not disabled can do this program. It starts off slowly and gently and at the end of it you can complete about 3 miles of walking and running. If you are already a walker you should be able to do the program in about 10 weeks. There are many plans on your smartphone, smart watch and the web. But also a lot of companies selling something… here is a link to a sample plan if you want to try. I wish we could think of a cool name like that for a learn to play bridge program..B to BB (Bored to bridge bum … maybe not).

One big difference for me between bridge and running is the word competitive. I run races. I do this mainly because it gives me goals but I do love the feel of the race. The runners gathering at the start (hundreds of them in a mostly orderly bunch), the ceremony before the race, the run and chat with others and at the end the cheesy medal, your photo and the big sign that you cross under that says FINISH.

What I really like is that I am there to run and to finish and not to win. I really wish all the others well. I don’t need to beat them. I may have a target time but for me as for most recreational runners the goal is to finish and that alone makes me happy. I pretty much never feel like that at bridge except perhaps at those rare times when I actually won something important to me.

Why I love bridge:

Social (unless you play with robots online like I do sometimes).

Works your mind (I wonder if it really does keep your mind young, I truly hope so).

Fun? (I don’t find serious tournaments actually “fun”, do you?)

Community… I love bridge people (well most of them.)

Why I love running:

Can do it outside most of the time (I won’t run in thunderstorm, hail, and a few other weather quirks).

Requires minimal equipment (note – I have collected a closet full of running clothes, running watches, ipods, water bottles, belts, of course running shoes etc. .. so have most runners),

Can do it alone. I like alone. I like listening to music or an audiobook or even just looking at the scenery. When I run I am transported to my own place.

Running works my body. After about 18 months of running I have a runners body. I am lean. I have strong legs. I have a very healthy heart, lungs and well everything. 

Fun … maybe. It is lovely when you are through and sitting down with something to eat or drink and feel a bit buzzy after a long run.

Community… to me running is mostly alone but I do belong to a running group and have fun with them. Note: most of them are pretty much half my age. Runners as a group are young.

Competing… Winning is finishing.

Of course you could have the best of both worlds and run AND play bridge…. healthy mind in a healthy body.

Twenty Years of MPP

Before Master Point Press

Sometime in the early 90’s I had an idea (always dangerous, if you ask Ray) that it would be nice if Canada had a national bridge magazine.  My thought was that we would try to break even while producing a quality magazine and making it available from coast to coast. I always come up with the ideas but it is up to Ray to make them happen! Somehow he agreed and we set up a committee which included us, Maureen Culp and various others from time to time over the next few years (Diane Bryan, Shelagh Paulsen, Ron Bishop and John Gowdy, among others).

Ray’s idea was that we would give the magazine away at bridge clubs and that the printing and distribution would be paid for through advertising. All our writers and other workers would be volunteers to keep costs down. We started local in the greater Toronto area. We asked fellow bridge players to provide articles. We called the magazine Canadian Master Point. The advertising was initially most from bridge clubs, teachers and tournaments. Over time we were able to reach bridge players coast to coast. It’s fun even now to reread some the articles we published — you can see them by downloading the magazines from www.ebooksbridge.com. Still free!

Ray Takes the Leap

It was a small step from a magazine to books, and indeed, our first books came out of the magazine — Mary Paul’s Partnership Bidding and David Silver’s Tales out of School. We called the company ‘Master Point Press’, without giving it much thought, as basically it was a hobby. One early book was There Must Be A Way by Andrew Diosy, which came out in 1995. I remember this book very well because I wrote the published version, after figuring out how to present Andrew’s quite brilliant problems and solutions in just the right manner.  I loved the hands. They made you think about bridge in a different way: hence the title, a pun of sorts. At the time we had a condo in the Miami area, on gorgeous grounds overlooking the Intercoastal. Every day I would write up my quota of hands and then linger in the sunshine.  One week I had to do a gig teaching computer project management in cities across Canada. It was a bit startling to leave warm sunny Miami and fly to subzero Edmonton. I still like this book a lot. It may not have a fancy cover but it will change your bridge “vision”.

In 1996 Ray was president of the Canadian arm of a multinational book publishing company. But this was a time (it probably still is) where publishing companies were consolidating and in one such consolidation Ray got a buy-out. The kids were grown up and I had a good job as a computer consultant. Ray thought about what he wanted to do – he was fed up with the corporate life. He wanted to run his own business. He was and still is a wonderful editor and a fine bridge player. Ergo, a bridge publishing company. At this time there were quite a few companies publishing bridge books but that didn’t stop Ray.

New York New York

So Ray started actively trying to acquire new authors and titles, while at the same improving the sales of our existing half dozen books.  About this time I read an article about a ‘micropublisher’ in British Columbia. Their little business was selling about $25,000 worth of books a year (or something like that). I thought this was funny so I mentioned it to Ray. He didn’t think it was quite so funny and asked me how much I thought we were making. Gulp!

It was time to spread to the Big Apple. From his corporate publishing days Ray was close friends with a book marketing maven, Karen Strauss, who had set up her own business. She agreed to take Ray on and market his books in the US. She also introduced us to Lyle Stuart. Lyle was a book publisher and distributor who specialized in books on gambling and other even more borderline illegal activities (The Anarchists’s Cookbook was his lead title). He was the kind of guy who liked to thumb his nose at authority and was always involved in lawsuits. Lyle took us on. He provided warehousing and distribution in the US. He also gave us one terrific piece of advice… no cheap covers. Covers sell books, spend money on them, make them look good. Lyle later on tried to buy our company and even later stiffed us for a bunch of money. That was Lyle.

The Big Time

Ray says that two books made the company. The first was 25 Conventions You Should Know by Barbara Seagram and Marc Smith. Well, they wrote it, yes, but the real star of this book was my mother, Toby. Toby loved bridge and played every week (usually twice) with her bridge group. They played for money — half went to savings and half went to the winner and runner-up. This could amount to as much as $5 I think. Years later the savings money paid for a cruise for the entire group. Often when my mother was playing I would get a call asking me about a bridge convention. “What are the responses to Jacoby 2NT?” or “What do I do when partner opens a weak two?” she would ask. We could see that there was a market for a beginner level book on conventions and put together the writing team. 25 Conventions has been translated into many languages and remains the best selling bridge book of the modern era.

The second breakthrough was Eddie Kantar agreeing to let us republish his classic defense book, previously known as “big red”. Our updated and revised edition was called Eddie Kantar Teaches Modern Bridge Defense. It still sells very well and if you check on Amazon US it is rated 5 stars by 32 reviewers.

Since then Eddie has become a good friend and we have had quite a few bridge adventures with Eddie and his wife Yvonne. Eddie LOVES playing bridge and will do so anywhere and everywhere. Once we were having dinner in a nice restaurant in Hawaii and Eddie wanted to play while we were waiting for the food to arrive. So off he ran to a nearby drugstore to get cards… usually he has some on him, but this time he had forgotten to bring them.

MPP Hires Distribution

In the early days, the way we provided books to most customers went along these lines. Originally the books were in our basement. Later we had a storage locker. Ray would go over (I would help sometimes) and pick the books from the shelves, put them in a box with packing material, tape them really well and mail them out. Ray was the best packer ever and I can’t remember any damaged books. But as business picked up it was time to let someone else do the packing and shipping. We negotiated hard and picked a company we still use in Georgetown Ontario. They could handle both Canada and the US, which was important.

Digital Books

I think the move to digital books was a big step for just about all publishers. Bridge books were particularly hard because we had to keep the hands and auctions from being reformatted as fonts and page sizes changed on the reader’s screen. We also had to deal with multiple file formats. We made a couple of decisions early on. First we would have our own website to sell our digital books. Second we would give the customer all versions of the book: PDF, .mobi (For Kindle) and .epub (for pretty well everyone else). We would also allow the PDF to be printed. We would trust our customers. And we would provide very good customer service. If you have a problem we want to fix it so that you leave happy.  It took a long time, a lot of freelancers, and some third-party conversion help, to convert all our paper books to ebooks. We are current now … hurray!

Marketing

Today we manage several websites. Besides www.ebooksbridge.com, we have www.masterpointpress.com, and a website for teachers which is run jointly with the American Bridge Teachers Association (ABTA), www.abtahome.com, and of course www.bridgeblogging.com.

Master Point Press works closely with the ABTA and supports them as much as we can. We also provide funds for an award administered by the ABTA, for the Bridge Teacher of the Year.

We sponsor a book award by the International Bridge Press Association and a sportsmanship award for juniors by the ACBL. 

More

Over the last few years we have taken advantage of technology to move older books to ‘print on demand’. That means books are always available. Before if the demand for a book was very low it was not economical to reprint it; now we can literally print a single copy of a book and ship it to a customer. Using this technology, we can also publish books we think are worthwhile but have a small market.

The Future

If someone had asked me to foresee the Master Point Press of 2014 twenty years ago it would have been beyond my imagination. Not only have we grown and changed but the world has become a much smaller place. MPP books are published in many languages and sold all over the world.  I am proud that we have kept pace with the technology and I am proud of the quality bridge books that we have made available to readers of all abilities.

Our Authors, in no particular order (and without whom we would not exist)

 

  • Terence Reese
  • Mary Paul
  • P.K. Paranjape
  • Dan Romm
  • Michael Rosenberg
  • Zia Mahmood
  • Andrew Diosy
  • David Silver
  • Peter Mathieson
  • Roy Hughes
  • Julian Pottage
  • Mark Horton
  • Eric Kokish
  • Barbara Seagram
  • Marc Smith
  • David Bird
  • Julian Laderman
  • Victor Mollo
  • Bill Buttle
  • Mike Lawrence
  • Brian Senior
  • Eddie Kantar
  • Matthew and Pamela Granovetter
  • Marshall Miles
  • Tim Bourke
  • Barnet Shenkin
  • Robert McKinnon
  • Jim Priebe
  • Jeff Rubens
  • Larry Cohen
  • Roselyn Teukolsky
  • Alan Sontag
  • Frank Stewart
  • Andy Stark
  • Alan Truscott
  • Dorothy Hayden Truscott
  • Willy Dam
  • Ib Axelsen
  • Nick Straguzzi
  • Danny Kleinman
  • Jonathan Berry
  • Paul Thurston
  • Fred Gitelman
  • Ned Downey
  • Ellen Pomer
  • Jude Goodwin
  • Sally Brock
  • Neil Kimelman
  • Danny Roth
  • Bobby Wolff
  • Gary Brown
  • Nick Smith
  • Ian McCance
  • Frank Vine
  • Sandra Landy
  • Patrick Jourdain
  • Barry Rigal
  • Jan van Cleeff
  • Clyde E. Love
  • Peter Winkler
  • Eric Rodwell
  • Jeff Meckstroth
  • Ken Allen
  • Mary Ann Dufresne
  • Marion Ellingsen
  • Paul Holtham
  • Boye Brogeland
  • Patrick O’Connor
  • Jim Jackson
  • Bill Treble
  • Nico Gardener
  • Carole Coplea
  • Krzysztof Jassem
  • Sabine Auken
  • Guy Leve
  • Ken Rexford
  • Ken Eichenbaum
  • Mike Dorn Wiss
  • Michael Schoenborn
  • Ian McKinnon
  • Roger Trezel
  • Kathleen Vishner
  • Gary Brown
  • Joan Anderson
  • Patty Tucker
  • Rosemary Boden
  • Jeff Chen
  • Cathy Hunsberger
  • Matthew Thomson
  • Bill Jacobs
  • Harry Smith
  • Alex Adamson
  • Robert Munger
  • Matthias Felmy 

 List of Awards

 ABTA Book of the Year

A Second Book of Bridge Problems    Patrick O’Connor

A First Book of Bridge Problems    Patrick O’Connor

 The Bridge Technique Series   David Bird and Tim Bourke

 Modern Bridge Defense    Eddie Kantar

Advanced Bridge Defense    Eddie Kantar

 25 Conventions You Should Know    Barbara Seagram & Marc Smith

 Bridge with Bells & Whistles    Mary Ann Dufresne and Marion Ellingsen

 How Good is Your Bridge?    Danny Roth

A Bridge to Simple Squeezes    Julian Laderman

A Bridge to Inspired Declarer Play    Julian Laderman

 25 Steps to learning 2/1    Paul Thurston

 Gary Brown’s Learn to Play Bridge    Gary Brown

 Hands-on Weak Two-bids    Joan Anderson

 Declarer Play at Bridge: a quizbook    Barbara Seagram & David Bird

 Planning the Play of a Bridge Hand    Barbara Seagram & David Bird

 Take All Your Chances at Bridge    Eddie Kantar

  

IBPA  Book of the Year

 North of the Master Solvers’ Club    Frank Vine

The Principle of Restricted Talent   Danny Kleinman and Nick Straguzzi

I Love this Game   Sabine Auken

Duplicate Bridge Schedules   Ian McKinnon  (Truscott award)

Fantunes Revealed   Bill Jacobs

The Rodwell Files   Eric Rodwell with Mark Horton

Canada’s Bridge Warriors   Roy Hughes

The Contested Auction   Roy Hughes

Play or Defend?   Julian Pottage

A Great Deal of Bridge Problems   Julian Pottage

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

A 20 imp swing in the last round of the USBF Quarterfinals

I always love watching the US team trials because there are so many talented exciting players and partnerships to watch, some young and some “experienced”.

The Bramley team was represented by Lew Stansby, and Bart Bramley sitting East-West in the Open Room Room and Bob Hamman and Roger Lee playing North-South in the Closed Room. All but Roger Lee belonging to the latter group.

All of the players on the Fireman team are  talented experienced but young (by bridge standards) group. Sitting North-South in the Open Room was Joel Wooldridge and John Hurd and East-West in the Closed Room with John Kranyak and Justin Lall North-South in the Closed Room.

There was a mere 14 imp difference when the eighth segment of the match between Fireman (npc) and Bramley started.

And what match could be more classic than this one. An epic struggle against veterans and new stars. There were a couple of early swings but the one that stands out is Board 52. Stansby-Bramley in a very complex auction has system confusion and ending up in a silly 6  when 7  bid by Kranyak-Lall is a good spot and makes.  

I have been there and I am sure most of you have too.  It is the cost of playing all the fancy stuff so often used in the modern game.  This put Fireman in the lead by 2 imps.

But if you can keep your composure 2 imps is nothing. A few boards later there was an interesting hand to play and defend.

 

W
Stansby
N
Wooldridge
E
Bramley
S
Hurd
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 

This was the auction in the Open Room. Stansby led the  K.

 
N
Wooldridge
2
AQ953
Q642
J63
W
Stansby
83
82
AK1073
K1075
 

 

Bramley played the  8 (upside count) and Hurd played the  5. Stansby cashed the ace as Bramley followed with the  9 and Hurd the  J. What now? You pick.

There are 19 points that you see between your hand and dummy. South has at least 15 HCP. That leaves six for Bramley. If he doesn’t have have the  A can you defeat the hand? The ♠A won’t be enough since dummy’s clubs  can go on the KQ of spades. A great shift by Stansby and one not found in the Closed Room. 12 imps back

 

 
55
Both
South
N
Hamman/Wool
2
AQ953
Q642
J63
 
W
Kranyak/Sta
83
82
AK1073
K1075
 
E
Lall/Bramle
J7654
J104
98
A42
 
S
Lee/Hurd
AKQ109
K76
J5
Q98
 

There were some more swings and FIreman got close but never regained the lead after this deal.

Canadian Open Team Championships – Light Openings in the Final

I had fun watching the Canadian Open Team Championships on BBO and doing some commentary.   I thought the bridge was good and exciting by and large. What is very hopeful for Canada is that the team that won, McMullin had some good young players. The second place team Gartgaganis are an excellent team of relative veterans. I hope both teams head to the World Championships which are an open event this year.

Here are some deals from the final which I could call The Power of the Opening BId

You are in first chair with everyone vulnerable. Here is your hand.

 

N
S. Nystrom
KJ10
J103
A105432
2

Do you pass? If you open what is your bid?

In the Open Room Samantha Nystrom chose to open with 1  and in the Closed Room Gord Campbell passed. Here is the whole deal and you can see that 6  is a very good contract and one that makes as the cards lie.

 

 
13
Both
North
N
S Nystrom
KJ10
J103
A105432
2
 
W
Jeff Smith
986432
52
98
Q65
 
E
P Thurston
Q5
AQ98764
J7
98
 
S
Tom Walsh
A7
K
KQ6
AKJ10743
 

 

W
Smith
N
Nystrom
E
Thurston
S
Walsh
1
2
3
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
5
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
 

 

Once Samantha opened and Tom found out that she had real diamonds he did not let her out below slam. Paul’s 2  bid didn’t really effect things much I don’t think and even if he had bid 3  I doubt that the auction would have been all that much different.

In the Closed Room Gord Campbell passed and Bryan Maksymetz sitting East open 3 which seems like a perfectly reasonable aggressive preempt to me. Can you see any sensible way to get to 6  from here? Ilya Kuzkin took a reasonable stabe with 5, his seven card suit and they played there.

Maybe I am resulting a bit but I like Samantha‘s opening bid. She has a decent six card suit, a singleton, a useful spade holding with KJ10 and her J103 of hearts may be useful. You can see why players are opening lighter hands. So 13 imps for opening light.

Now here is one that I wouldn’t have opened… sort of how light can you go.

 
3
E-W
South
N
S Nystrom
Q97
Q642
104
Q963
 
W
Jeff Smith
AKJ654
J3
K2
A108
 
E
P Thurston
82
A1095
A9865
74
 
S
Tom Walsh
103
K87
QJ73
KJ52
 

 

 

W
Walsh
N
Smith
E
Nystrom
S
Thurston
1
1
Dbl
Pass
2
2
All Pass
 
 

Walsh was white on red and decided to open his rubbish flat ten count 1 . Smith overcalled 1  and Nystrom made a negative double. Thurston might have found some bid but then again he has length in his opponents suit and only a doubleton in the suit his partner overcalled. Walsh had to perforce bid 2 .  Smith bid 2  which seems reasonable to me. I think Thurston just might have given this a little push with a ruffing value and two aces, especially vulnerable. What do you think? Anyway the auction ended at 2 .

In the other room the auction was much easier for East-West

W
Yan
N
Campbell
E
Maksymet
S
Kuzkin
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass

After Ilya Kuzkin passed, as I would have, East-West were able to use their normal methods to get to the spade game without much of a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Stories

As we are coming up to the Thanksgiving holiday I thought it might be a good time to think about some of my favorite bridge stories … things that happened to me.

Somehow it is the weird things that I remember most.

It all started when I was at university. I was playing in a competition with other students at a special game at the local bridge club, Kate Buckmans. My partner was Andy Altay (a friend of long-standing then and now). Andy was the best partner and you will agree with me after I tell you what happened.

Andy and I reached a grand slam in a trump suit. Dummy came down and I could see that I was missing the trump king (those were the days before keycard Blackwood). I led one up to dummy to take a finesse when my right hand opponent showed out. I shrugged my shoulders and played low and shortly thereafter claimed one down. The result was the same at the other table. Unlucky? Not really it was stupid. There was only one trump missing, the king. Both declarers finessed into the stiff king. And what did Andy say? Nothing. He did smile but it was an encouraging smile! Now you know why Andy is one of the best partners. 

Moving ahead in time my husband Ray and I were playing at a sectional in a town not too far from where we lived. We were playing an Open Pairs and then the next day planned to play with our friends, Ray and Gail Jotcham, who were staying at the hotel. Anyway Ray and I had a terrible afternoon in the pairs and as they used to say “We qualified for the Consolation”. Things didn’t go much better in the Consolation but we had some really funny stories to tell the Jotchams. On one deal the opponents bid to a heart game while our side was bidding spades. Vulnerable against not, we took the push to 4  which was doubled.  For some reason we redoubled, probably because “why not?”. On this hand my job was to find the trump queen. I had a two way finesse. Being a student of the game I decided to play some other suits first to try to deduce the opponents distribution and work out the best way to take the finesse. Unfortuantely on the way to “getting a count” one of the opponents ruffed in. So I went down without every taking a finesse (or even playing trump).

The next morning when we were back in the playing area the Jotchams came over to tell Ray and I that we had in fact won the event. And the 4  redoubled hand … it was a top. The field had sold out to 4  making for -420 while 4  redoubled done one was only -400!

Do you have some good stories to tell? Send them to me at linda@masterpointpress.com and I will post them or write them up as comments.

Im a lifetime of bridge I admit I have a lot more to tell myself.

 

 

Bridge and Running

I have started running. It all started with a walk-run program my daughter sent me last winter. I love the name of these programs C25K (which stands for couch potato to 5K). There are many such programs but the idea is that you can take a non-runner and get them to the point that they can run 3.1 miles through a program that combines walking and running and gradually increases the length of each run and the ratio of the running to the walking.  I can say that I am now a runner, a beginning runner but still a runner. 

poppy_300

I have done three races and this weekend I am planning to do a Remembrance Day run. I am not worried about finishing the 5K run. IIt is going to be very cold and windy and so I am worried it won’t be much fun.

So I was thinking about the difference between running and bridge as hobbies/sports.

Bridge: mental but there is some physical (stamina) required

Running: physical but there is a lot of mental (toughness) required. In fact I think running is as much in your head as in your body.

Bridge: Helps mental health in keeping your mind active; can build intuitive skills and memory skills.

Running: Helps your to keep your body healthy, reduces disease risks and also improves your mental health with improved blood flow to your brain – not to mention the willpower you develop

Bridge: Social – you have to have four although these days you can do it from your computer

Running: Can be solitary but running groups are popular too.

Bridge: Partnership game – this is good and bad.

Running: All by your lonesome – this is good and bad. And yes you can run with a buddy and I always talk to people before, during and after a race.

Bridge: Some programs to get started but learning to play can be a major hurdle .. we need to do this much better.

Running: Just put on your running shoes and you can start a walk run program.

Bridge: Could be for all ages but it seems to be mostly people over 40 these days

Running: Pretty much people of all ages can run.

Bridge: Winners and losers

Running: Finishing can be winning for many people. Doing a Personal Best is winning. Lots of winners.

Which all brings me to the need to come up with a C25K program for bridge .. we don’t need to teach bridge in 1 day but we do need to get people up and going very quickly. We need to find a way to make the game fun for people who will never be experts. People shouldn’t have to take the beginner course 5 times or more (as some people end up doing). We are definitely doing something wrong.

If I can learn to run in 10 weeks even though I am no longer young and feel that I can compete surely we ought to be able to help people to learn to play bring and have fun with it in a short period of time.  And we need to find a way to let lots of people feel that they are winners.

 

Because you asked, Norm

 

Today Norm and I played on BBO against Suzie and Wayne. All of these players are players who I have mentored or am currently mentoring and all of them are good advanced players. Norm is from Israel, Suize a fellow Canadian and Wayne from Las Vegas.

Today Norm arrived in 4 in an uncontested auction after he opened 2NT in fourth chair.  When you see my hand you may think I was a bit pushy to reach for a heart game after the 2NT opening. Let us just say that it represents my confidence in Norm’s card play skills.

The opening lead was the K and this is what Norm had to work with:

 

N
Linda
96
J1087
J105
Q853
 
S
Norm
A8
AKQ63
A4
A972

 

I do appreciate it that Norm always has these supermax hands when I overbid mine.

The lead of the K is a bit strange and I wouldn’t be surprised if the it was a singleton or maybe a doubleton. Ducking it is certainly an option. If clubs are continued the suit is breaking and you have no more losers. If it is not than it is probably a singleton and you can work from there.

Norm decided to win the trick and play trump.  East showed out on the first round. How do you proceed?

You know that you have a spade loser and a diamond loser and at least one club loser. If the CK is indeed a singleton you are in danger of losing two clubs. One option might be to endplay somebody. The bad trump split has made this harder. If trump had split even 3-1 you might have been able to draw trump and force the defense to allow you to set up a diamond trick. East cannot lead clubs without giving up a winner. 

So basically you can eliminate diamonds and spades and duck a club into East who will be forced to lead clubs back. Obviously it doesn’t help East to discard a club at any point.

But alas the trump are four-nothing. So what now? Norm decided to draw all the trump putting East under some pressure. She can’t throw any clubs so you know three of her last eight cards are clubs. If she holds the  KQ you are still in business. Here is the position at this point.

 
N
Linda
96
J105
Q85
 
W
West
Who cares
 
 
 
E
East
??
KQ?
J106
 
S
South
A8
Q
A4
972
 

 

You could start by ducking a spade. Suppose the defense continues a spade back. You win and lay down the DA. If East is down to two diamonds than an honor will fall and you can concede a diamond setting up the DJ as the game going trick. If both follow low then East has the top two diamonds but no more spades. You lead out a diamond. East wins and plays a third diamond. You ruff and duck a club to East who is endplayed.

As long as you are playing East for the KQ of diamonds and you know she has the last three clubs you can always find a way to endplay East in clubs.

Is there a better way – one that does not rely on East to have the DKQ? Is there some way we can force East to give up a club trick?  Yes if you can read the ending.

Lets look at some positions where you decide that East has one diamond honor. East must hold at least two diamonds in the endgame (or your ace will drop her honor and you can set up a diamond winner as your game going trick). And of course East has to have three clubs.

For example: 

 
N
Linda
 
 
J105
Q85
 
W
West
K104 
K98 
 
 
E
East
7
 
Q3
J106
 
S
Norm
 
A4
972
 

You play ace and another diamond. East must win (or the diamond honors crash) and returns a spade. You ruff and duck a club into East. And you can see that if East holds three diamonds in the endgame and no spades, it really doesn’t change anything.

But if the diamond honors are split I believe in most cases perfect defense will defeat the contract at this stage.

Norm has just got back from Barcelona. He saw some of the most beautiful and complex architecture in the world. Here is a complex hand for you. You asked me to tell you if you could have made 4 . I said I would show you. On the lie of the cards this rather beautiful complex hand can be made.

The actual deal

 
N
Linda
96
J1087
J105
Q853
 
W
Wayne
QJ753
9542
732
K
 
E
Suzie
K1042
-
KQ986
J1064
 
S
Norm
A8
AKQ63
A4
A972
 

Thanks Suzie and Wayne for another fun session. If any reader wants to add to the analysis I would be happy to see your comments.

Congratulations to USA 2 Women … it wasn’t easy!

USA 2 was like the little engine that could. They kept saying, “I think I can, I think I can” and by George they did it. They won the Venice Cup.

In the Semifinals they just beat out the Dutch ladies. Had a slightly antipercentage slam made towards the end of the match they would have been eliminated.

Going into the last few boards of the long final they were slightly behind but once again they pulled ahead and managed to win by 9.3 imps.

To win you need reasonable luck but you need to play solid and keep doing it. You need stamina and you need guts and they displayed both.

Congratulations to Hjordis Eythorsdottir, Jill Levin, Jill Meyers, Janice Seamon-Molson, Jenny Wolpert, Migry Zur-Campanile and NPC Sue Picus. The Netherlands defeated CHina to take the Bronze medal.

In the Seniors USA2 lost narrowly to Germany 172 to 161 with Poland defeating France for the Bronze medal.

The finals of the Bermuda Bowl turned out to be a cakewalk for Italy  They defeated the handpicked Monaco team 210 to 126. And in a heart-breaker for USA1 they missed out on third place when they just failed short of a comeback in the fourth and final segment losing 146.7 to 142.

Nevertheless special congratulations to Gavin Wolpert and Jenny Wolpert who will now have two new medals for the family trophy case.

 

 

And Your Little Dog Too

 

 

wickedwitch-431x300jpg

“I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too.”  Sometimes you don’t just want to  win, you want to win and be done with it.

Going into the fifth set of the quarterfinals Team Canada was feeling pretty good. They had made it through  the first four segments with a virtual tie with Team USA 1.  But this segment was all USA.

With the score still 119-118 for the US Weinstein took advantage of the vulnerability (white on red) to make an off-center 3  bid with 

S
Weinstein
8
K1092
KQ6432
107

 

As a result the USA missed the 4-4 heart fit and played in 3NT while Canada played in 4♥.  As the cards lie 3NT fails on a club lead with a 5-3 club break while 4H makes when hearts play for no losers missing QJ543.

 

 
3
E-W
South
N
Levin
AK64
A876
J10
QJ4
 
W
Korbel
107532
QJ
A95
A65
 
E
Darren Wolp
QJ9
543
87
K982
 
S
Weinstein
8
K1092
KQ6432
107
 

 

It really isn’t clear to me which is the better contract. Even if clubs break 5-3 or worse you may not get that lead and 3NT will make.

At this point Canada led 129 to 119 but aside for 1 imp on Board 15 that was the last imps Canada would score.

USA not only didn’t give up any imps they scored big numbers on a lot of boards … they didn’t just want to take the lead they wanted to win big … enough already.

The biggest loss came on Board 16.  Let’s start with Smith-Thurston in the Closed Room. They arrived in a slam that might have made on a good day.

N
Smith
AKJ108
KJ83
75
AJ

Jeff Smith held this hand and opened 1 . Paul Thurston bid a game forcing 2 . Jeff bid 2  and Paul showed spade support with 2 .

Smith
Thurston
1
2
2
2
3
3
3
4
4NT
5
5
5
?

After a series of cuebids Jeff bid keycard. Paul showed one keycard I presume and Jeff asked for the trump queen. Paul denied the trump queen. It seemed reasonable that missing a keycard and the trump queen Jeff would settle for five. But he went on to the slam. I am not sure why. Maybe in their auction Thurston could have had four spades although most players would bid a hand with good diamonds and four spades differently. Maybe he just wanted to play for a swing since he had good enough spades to pick up the queen onside to four. But today the queen was offside and he had no play. 

Down 1.

 

 
12
N-S
West
N
Smith
AKJ108
KJ83
75
AJ
 
W
Korbel
7
AQ109
864
98653
 
E
Darren Wolp
Q954
652
Q3
Q1042
 
S
Weinstein
632
74
AKJ1092
K7
 

Things were even worse for Canada in the Open Room. The auction started off the same. Korbel passed in first, Levin, North opened 1  and Weinstein responded 2 .  Now West, Korbel entered the auction with 2 . I am sure he did this to get a heart lead. He figured at this vulnerability he might not go for too much into a vulnerable game even if they doubled him right there. He was soon to find out the size of that number. Levin doubled for penalty and that was passed out. Woops!

The defense was merciless. Levin started with two rounds of spades ruffed by Korbel. Korbel played a diamond trying for a ruff in dummy but Weinstein just led trump through. Eventually Levin was able to draw trump and the defence took all the tricks except for the trump ace and the spade ruff at trick two.  Down 5. 1100. 16 imps. Ouch.

The segment ended with USA1 leading by 51 imps, 181 to 130. USA1 did everything right.

Good try Team Canada. And that leaves the fine USA1 team to represent North America’s hopes in the Bermuda Bowl. And I like their chances

 

 

 

Brother versus brother

At the midway point Canada and USA 1 are in a fairly close battle with USA 1 leading by 28 imps. Italy leads China by 53 and Monaco leads England by 37.

One interesting aspects of the Canada-USA 1 all North America match is that it features two brothers one on each team. With their mother Hazel as NPC of Team Canada.

As it happens both brothers were at the same table in their second round match. Darren for Canada sitting East and Gavin for USA 1 sitting South.

Going into Board 28 the USA led Canada by 7 imps, 45-38.  Gavin does often make bold bids and most of them work. But not on this board. This was Gavin’s hand:

S
GAVN
3
AK98754
9654
10

 

The auction had started with Darren showing a 3NT raise and a spade stopper.

W
KORBEL
N
KRANYAK
E
DARREN
S
GAVIN
1NT
2
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
?
 
 
 
 

Can you guess Gavin’s call?

 

Did you guess? Now I know he has 7-4 which in someways is better than 6-5 (and other ways not). And the auction suggests things are likely splitting not too badly for him. The problem is that partner’s spades are not all that likely to be helpful.

 
28
N-S
West
N
KRANYAK
KJ10972
2
Q10
Q732
 
W
KORBEL
A64
QJ103
J82
AK9
 
E
DARREN
Q85
6
AK73
J8654
 
S
GAVN
3
AK98754
9654
10
 

 

I think when Gavin looks back on it (whether he wins the match or not) he will agree that the vulnerability was wrong for being quite this aggressive. I imagine not much thought will be given to this flight of fancy if he wins and maybe more if by some chance Canada prevails in the end.

Gavin is an exciting and highly imaginative player with flair and technical excellence but even the great ones get it wrong some of the time.

Whatever happens in this match Captain Hazel is going to be proud of her boys.

 

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