Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Playing against Fred and Larry – Are they really that good?

The last few times that we have played against Fred Lerner and Larry Lande they have outscored us by a fair bit. On Tuesday night Isabelle swore revenge but it was not to be. So I thought about why they have been winning. Was it luck? It did seem that the hands had mostly been their way and you generally have more control of your fate when you are on the declaring side. Sometimes the BBO scores seemed very strange to add to the luck factor and then there was that great slam that we got to that went down on a bad trump break a while back.

The very first hand illustrated the point about getting the cards but perhaps something else as well. Fred held S A53 H Q62 D KJ63 C AJ10. He heard Larry open 1H and bid 2D. Larry splintered with 4C and Fred showed his heart support with 4H suggesting this strain. Larry bid 5D. Do you bid or pass? With a hand rich in controls and a partner who obviously held great diamonds Fred bid 6D and when Larry put down S J2 H AKJ108 D A10842 C 3 there wasn’t much to the play. Well bid by Larry and Fred and here we were again down 6.6 imps before we started.

Board 3 brought another big swing against us. Perhaps our active system helped them. See what you think.

Larry held S K6432 H Q D AKQ853 C 5

I opened a 10-12 notrump, Fred passed and Isabelle bid 2H to play. Larry made a quiet 3D bid. I competed with 3H and Fred raised to 4D. Your bid now? Larry bid 4S and Fred corrected to 5D. Fred put down

S AJ5 H 2 D J1062 C Q10873

4S would have been easier but 5D made when the spade finesse worked. When I looked at other auctions (and of course my hand passed) people with Larry’s hand seemed never to bid spades. Suppose Isabelle had opened 2H and with Larry’s hand you chose to overcall 3D. My hand often bid 3H (I would bid 4H) and Fred’s hand bid 4D. This really puts the auction in a similar place. The key bid here is Larry’s decision to go on over 4D with 4S.

In our system we would have bid 4D over 2H showing at least 5-5 in spades and diamonds.

At this point we were down 15 imps and nothing much had happened.

Now least you think that we never get good results playing weak notrump Board 5 did bring us a tiny bit of revenge. I held S J10874 H A62 D AK3 C 96. In first chair vulnerable I opened a 12-14 notrump. Isabelle bid 2H and it went pass, pass to Fred who balanced double. Isabelle redoubled which in this sequence suggested a good pass. Larry took out to his 5 card diamond suit and I doubled this for 2 down and 300 points.

The whole hand was

South Dealer

  S 952  
  H QJ875  
  D 106  
  C AK8  
S AK6   S Q3
H K9   H 1043
D QJ8   D 97532
C Q10752   C J43
  S J10874  
  H A62  
  D AK4  
  C 96


Board 21 is very interesting. I did make a defensive error but there were some opportunities in each direction as the game swung in the balance.

  S QJ  
  H 64  
  D Q973  
  C A10983  
S 643   S AK75
H K82   H QJ7
D KJ52   D A84
C QJ5   C K72
  S 10952  
  H A10953  
  D 106  
  C 62

Larry held the East hand, not vulnerable against vulnerable. He opened 1NT in second chair and Fred raised to 3NT. I lead an attitude H3. Larry won in hand and played a club to the CJ and CA. Isabelle returned the H6 Larry played the HQ and I ducked it. I know Isabelle can’t have a third heart because the missing heart is the 7 and with 76 remaining she would have returned the 7 and I shouldn’t duck the heart. Watch what happened after I ducked the heart.  Larry played a diamond to the jack and Isabelle’s queen. Isabelle made a small mistake of leading back the SQ. Isabelle needs to return a club while she still has entries. I can’t hold a spade honour if Larry is to have a his bid. (I have to have the heart ace; I lead an attitude H3 and played a positive Smith echo showing I liked the lead.) Now it was Larry’s turn to make a mistake. If Larry ducks the spade return the hand is cold. If neither spades nor diamond split he has a squeeze on whichever hand holds the long spades. Larry played two rounds of diamonds to arrive at this position

  S J  
  D 9  
  C 10983  
S 64   S K75
H K   H 7
D 5   D
C Q5   C K7
  S 1095  
  H A10  
  C 6

Now Larry ducked Isabelle’s SJ. At this point the spotlight is on Isabelle but this is quite a hard play to make She has to not cash the D9. Perhaps if she is deep into the hand she can work it out. She actually can deduce from the play of the hand to this point pretty well every card. In any case she cashed her D9 and now the squeeze was operative again.

When Larry cashed the top clubs I was squeezed in the majors.

I admit that the only one who did anything egregious was me. But I still find the hand very interesting.

So what is my conclusion about our losses to Larry and Fred. I think to some extent we have had the worst of the luck and more of the opportunities have been their way but the bigger problem is that they simply haven’t made very many mistakes at all. So I can quote a sports figure who when asked why he lost a game said “ We were very unlucky; they played better than we did."

1 Comment

Ray LeeFebruary 7th, 2008 at 11:30 am

On Board 3 I think the opponents got lucky and you got no field protection. Larry bid only 3D on a hand where he wants to be in game opposite Qxxx of spades and out (and perhaps even less!), and in slam opposite very little more. I would have bid 3H on his cards. Likewise, over an opening 2H, 3D is a serious underbid. If a Leaping Michaels 4D isn’t available, then I would double and convert clubs to diamonds.

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