Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Porch Envy

It was a gorgeous day on Sunday of this holiday weekend.  In Canada we celebrate Victoria Day on the weekend nearest May 24.  Yes we really celebrate the official birthday of an ancient foreign queen with fireworks!.  For most Canadians though it is the start of summer.  A time when you buy your bedding plants and garden and put out the lawn furniture.  We have a huge pine tree in the backyard with the branches almost reaching our porch.  Pines through off a lot of stuff and after picking up dozens of pine cones I had to clean the pine resin from our outdoor table.  It was not easy.  I looked across at our neighbors who had a huge table with a big orange umbrella.  It had a crisp white tablecloth and was set with fine china and crystal.  Our chairs were too dirty to sit in so I brought a chair out sat in the sun drinking ice tea and thinking about how I envied the neighbors there beautiful deck in their pineless garden and their lovely table.

Yes, sometimes the grass does grow greener (or the porch more lovely) on the other side of the fence.  Today Ray and I were both commentating on a match from the Hungarian Cup but at different tables.  When Ray finished about 8 boards ahead of me it was looking a look greener in the office across the hallway.  We did get to talk about some of the deals and what happened in each room (and what was said in each room).

Here is one such deal:

Board 29 Both Vulnerable Dealer South

h AJ6
Copy of d K6 
c AKJ107
h Q1032
Copy of d AQ9853
c 8
h 9754
Copy of d J72
c Q93
h K8
Copy of d 104 
c 6542


At my table this looked like a simple enough hand.  North opened a forcing club in third chair and South bid a negative one diamond.  West now took the opportunity to bid 2Copy of d.  North showed his big notrump hand with 2NT.  South transferred to spades and then gave north a chance to pick contracts with 3NT.  With his minimal diamond stopper and three card support it was easy enough to bid the spade game.

The play was simple.  West won the opening diamond lead and switched to a club.  North played trumps and East-West had a choice of a club ruff or a club trick, making 4. 

My fellow commentator was effusive in his praise for the 2Copy of d overcall.  I wasn’t so sure.  I pointed out that it made it easy for North to play spades rather than notrump.  While it is true he probably would have chosen the spade game anyway he might have given notrump some thought.  Here it got no thought at all.  Of course, on the hand East would likely have led a heart and 3NT would have made but at least there is a chance to beat it if East’s fingers stumble on a diamond.  (Okay it is a faint hope).  But it does also help the play.  If dummy has a negative than dummy probably doesn’t have a whole lot of entries and a diamond lead might well help declarer.   Not too mention the smaller chance that 2Copy of d might go for a number on a different arrangement of the cards.

I admit that at this point East-West could still have their share of the cards and want to compete and that a diamond lead might be better than another lead which might give away a trick.  My point wasn’t that overcalling 2Copy of d wasn’t a bad idea just that it had its dark side too.

Little did I know what was happening at the other table until later when my spouse alerted me to what happens to 4s on a heart lead.

At the other table North opened 2NT in third chair and after partner transferred to spades jumped to the spade game.  With out much to go on East led a low heart which declarer won in hand with the hJ.  How should he play the hand? 

My better half thought he should unblock the hK, play a club to hand and take an immediate heart pitch.  His argument was that the greatest risk to the contract was the  Copy of dA with East and the sA with West and a club loser.  So if you take the heart pitch as long as hearts break well which seems almost certain form the lead and clubs are not 4-0  (and you can even handle some of those)  you are near certain to make the hand since even if there is a club ruff it has to be with a club trick.  The odds of the aces aligning in a troublesome way is 25% and the odds of a 4-0 club break or some weird happening with a 3-1 club break are quite a bit worse than that.

Our declarer and most of the other commentators did not agree with him.  But I do honey!  He played spades and in the end with East holding the sA he had no risk.

Now I know that the board was a push and in the end the diamond overcall only worked to make the hand end much faster but it still took a more complicated hand and made it simpler and who knows if things had been a bit different made it would have made even more difference than that.  So Ray keep fighting the good fight about your play ideas.  And I will keep discussing the merits of being active in the auction or staying quiet.   I for one will not always be “right” but in bidding there are seldom absolutes.

If you think I am wrong speak up – its okay to speak up if you think I am right too!  Think of West’s bid as a MSC challenge!


kenrexfordMay 24th, 2010 at 3:04 pm

A 3D overcall (my call) might have done more damage…

LindaMay 25th, 2010 at 8:07 am

That is a terrific point Ken. If you are going to try to disturb the auction than 2D doesn’t cut it.

Leave a comment

Your comment