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Matchpoints in Reno: NAP Flight A Qualifying
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This is intended to be a short series talking about my experience playing matchpointed national events in Reno with three different partners. Previously I had not had much success in matchpoints, but during this nationals I had my four highest placings, and as a result was asked to chronicle my experience for our local bridge newspaper, the D20 Trumpet. I thought the deals were interesting enough to reproduce on Bridgewinners as well.

I went to the nationals in Reno, planning on playing every day in national events unless we were knocked out. I had lined up games with my regular partner Chris Wiegand, a semi-regular partner in Jeff Ford, and a completely new partner in Bernie Greenspan. The first two events, the North American Pairs and the Platinum Pairs, I played with Chris. She and I play a precision variant, with a diamond opener that could be as short as 0 diamonds, five card majors, and a 14-16 NT.

NAP Flight A’s 1st qualifying

During the first qualifying session, Chris and I scored just under a 55%. We were actually dealt a much bigger game, having been aided by opponent mistakes – for example, opponents bid 7 off the K, and the finesse was off, for an above average board (many others also bid grand).

How would you bid:

North
AJ10
K10832
AK2
42
South
K2
AQ75
J75
AKQ3
with your regular partner? (South hand starts)

We bid the hands as follows:

North
AJ10
K10832
AK2
42
South
K2
AQ75
J75
AKQ3
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
5NT
P
6
P
7

10 of 18 tables in our section were also in 7, and one in 7N making, but there were a few stragglers in 6 something.

 

What opening lead do you make hearing the following auction (3rd/low leads, Rusinow honors)?

West
106
J82
A975
KJ62
W
N
E
S
1
P
4
P
4
P
P
P

 

My partner, who normally hates leading from unbid suits headed by the jack, decided this was the moment to break that trend with the 2, and hit a jackpot layout:

West
106
J82
A975
KJ62
North
Q753
AQ53
QJ82
Q
East
4
K1094
K3
1098543
South
AKJ982
76
1064
A7
W
N
E
S
1
P
4
P
4
?
D

Reasonably (at matchpoints), declarer decided to finesse the Q, allowing me to shift to the K and a small diamond, getting my ruff.

 

Over a big club, what do you decide to bid on the following:

East
K8
K3
AK97642
K4
W
N
E
S
1
?

 

Opponents gave us a complete top when they decided to bid 3N at all red over my big club opening, not a success on the following layout/auction:

West
963
109765
10
10653
North
AJ1054
AJ
QJ5
AQJ
East
K8
K3
AK97642
K4
South
Q72
Q842
83
9872
W
N
E
S
1
3NT
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
3NTX East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Partner led a club, and I took the A and then played the Q. Declarer won his K, played off AK and a diamond, and then was squeezed when I cashed the third club, having to throw a winning diamond to maintain a guard in both majors. At this point I just played A and a heart (partner had signaled showing the Q), and declarer was endplayed to giving us the last two spades. We could have gotten this more than two tricks if I had switched to a spade instead of continuing clubs, but that could easily be wrong as well, especially when playing the club guaranteed the set against a contract that had to be anti-field. Indeed, we were one of only four pairs in our section that even went plus; 200 would also have been a top.

 

Perhaps the most fun we had was when we played board 7, where everyone was vulnerable.  Think about whether you would compete further on this hand (partner's pass denies 3+ spades):

North
KQ98753
5
Q862
5
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
X
P
2
2
P
P
3
?

 

 

I and everyone else decided to pass, and the hand was as follows:

West
1064
8762
K7
K743
North
KQ98753
5
Q862
5
East
A2
AQ104
AJ105
J106
South
J
KJ93
943
AQ982
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
X
P
2
2
P
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

I decided to lead the Q. Declarer decided to play me for 6 spades and duck the A. Chris ruffed my 3 continuation, then laid down the A and continued with the 9. Declarer thought about this, but eventually got it right and withheld his king. I ruffed with my other singleton, then continued with the K. Declarer fell from grace by now ruffing with the ace, crossing to a diamond, then leading a heart up, getting the bad news. We wound up getting a spade, a club, and all five of our trumps for down 3 – only an above average board since some E-W wound up in 4 hearts, and some of those E-W pairs were doubled.

2nd qualifying

During the 2nd qualifying session, I had a decision to make in the auction as follows:

West
K74
AQ543
AKJ107
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
X
XX
2
2
4
P
4
4
?

My 4 established a forcing pass.  What would you do?

I elected to double, ending the auction, which in retrospect I think was a mistake.  I should have made a forcing pass to show that I was even better for offense than my 4 showed, but I didn't, and we have to defend 4 doubled as a result.  Fortunately, the hands were as follows:

West
K74
AQ543
AKJ107
North
1085
62
Q843
AKQ7
East
2
KJ98
5
J965432
South
AQJ963
107
962
108
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
X
XX
2
2
4
P
4
4
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

I started off with the K. Partner followed with the 5, and declarer with the 6. We play upside down count and attitude with count being a priority in this situation (Q with length in dummy), so I knew that declarer had another diamond – partner would have signaled with her highest diamond with 3 of them to make sure that her signal was clear, and the 9 was missing, so partner either had one or two diamonds. I continued with my A, and was relieved when partner pitched a middle club. When I continued the T (forcing the Q), partner was able to read the hand/my signal and gave me a club ruff with the 9. I underled my AQ to partner’s K, and partner played back the J, giving me a ruff and asking for a heart return. I decided to trust partner’s suit preference signal, and underled a 2nd time to partner’s J. Chris finished the defense by playing a 3rd club, which declarer ruffed with the Q, and was over-ruffed. Upon looking at the recap, it was actually important for us to get 1100, because two pairs were in 5X making six, for 1050. Of the pairs in 6, two made it and one didn’t; several also were held to 5 when they didn’t bid slam, as there is actually quite a bit of work to do to get rid of partner’s clubs, so in retrospect we may have gotten to the spot with the best risk-reward ratio.  Plus, we once again scored all of our trump on defense, which was super satisfying.

We wound up with an even better game than the afternoon, with a 59%, propelling us into the 5th place qualifying spot.

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