Join Bridge Winners
My NABC Robot Individual Journey - Day 1
(Page of 25)

I have yet to miss playing in an online NABC individual.  I've cracked the top 10% but never the top 10.  I've had some bad luck combined with bad play which drags down my good boards.

I'm adjusting my online play slightly.  Gone are my any-excuse-to-open-1NT tendencies; the computer has become much better at overcoming that.  I will dip down to 14 HCP to open, but that's as far as I'll go.

Also, I've discovered that it pays to disguise your hand as much as possible.  Conceal declarer's high card points as much as possible.  The robots are still prone to making defensive mistakes if they don't have an accurate count of your hand.  This one adjustment has made a huge difference in my results of late.

But mostly, play normal-ish.  The robots have gotten a *lot* better since the initial Nationals, and are less likely to be pushed around by wild bidding.  Down the middle and try to outdeclare the rest of the field is the best way to win matchpoints.

As always, the boards I play may not match the boards you played.

Robot
J97
J92
AJ83
532
Robot
105
AQ83
1097
K1074
Robot
K3
K1074
K542
986
Sterman
AQ8642
65
Q6
AQJ
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1NT
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
1
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
4
9
J
3
1
0
2
J
5
3
0
1
1
5
K
8
Q
1
2
1
10
K
A
9
3
3
1
Q
7
7
5
3
4
1
A
3
7
6
3
5
1
8
8
3
7
3
6
1
6
2
8
2
3
7
1
4
9
9
10
3
8
1
5
J
A
4
1
9
1
10
4
6
3
1
10
1
10
K
6
J
2
10
2
K
Q
A
Q
2
10
3
N/S +420
13

A fairly standard sequence although I fudge my 3S response a bit.  I win the club lead with the Jack (concealing my high card points from the robots, although a human would be able to draw some good inferences) and consider.  I don't think I'll be able to avoid two diamond losers and a spade loser, so the trick will be to get trump out of the way before the robots figure out to lead a heart through my AQ. 

I decide to immediately lead a low spade towards the Ten.  West wins the Jack to my mild disappointment but then, as hoped, West leads another club.  I win dummy's King and play a spade, grateful to see the King pop.  I run my spades hoping the robots will misdefend further, but they don't.  West discards two hearts, which makes me believe it's not trying to guard the King.  In the end I eschew the heart finesse to take my sure ten tricks.  And a good thing too since the finesse was off.

I end up with ten tricks, +420, good for 87.1%.  Many, many people went down in 4S, almost always by taking the heart finesse.  My line of play postponed the heart finesse until the very last minute, by which time I had uncovered enough information to suspect it wasn't working.

Robot
Q765
5
QJ76
AJ62
Robot
J3
QJ9876
K3
Q104
Robot
K109
A3
10942
K875
Sterman
A842
K1042
A85
93
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
P
P
D
2
1 North
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
5
7
K
1
1
0
6
A
2
5
2
1
1
4
A
6
3
3
2
1
10
6
7
3
3
3
1
2
6
J
K
2
3
2
7
3
A
4
0
3
3
Q
8
2
8
1
4
3
3
10
A
5
3
5
3
9 tricks claimed
N/S +140
8

Ugh, eleven point hands.  Knowing that partner has at most eleven opposite me makes me leery of these kinds of hand.  I tend to open a four-card major when I can, passing the robot's probable 1NT response, and it usually works out well.  This time, with two four-card majors, I don't feel right doing that, so I open 1D with some trepidation.  The robot respondes 1H to my relief.  I quickly pass - unless the robot has a distributional monster, we're not making game, and the robot is quite likely to compete too high if I take another bid.  The robot opponents usually balance in auctions like these, so West's decision to pass 1H is a mild surprise.

Not much to the play.  I have to lose a spade, a heart, and two clubs.  I much around for a bit, trying to conjure a tenth trick out of thin air, but eventually accept the inevitable and claim nine tricks.

+140 is worth 82.3%.  Most people passed it out.

Robot
Q965
J3
AK87
Q85
Robot
K874
10982
963
102
Robot
AJ103
KQ765
J
J93
Sterman
2
A4
Q10542
AK764
W
N
E
S
1
P
P
2
3
4
P
P
P
D
3
4 West
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
9
K
5
3
1
0
A
8
2
3
3
2
0
7
Q
7
J
1
3
0
6
J
Q
A
0
3
1
6
8
A
2
2
3
2
J
4
Q
K
1
4
2
4
3
2
9
0
4
3
K
3
5
4
0
4
4
J
10
6
A
3
5
4
4
3
9
K
2
5
5
Q
5
7
8
2
5
6
7
6
8
2
2
5
7
10
10
5
9
2
5
8
E/W -200
13

I open 1D and am disappointed when partner passes.  East balances with Michaels, and I throw in a white-versus-red 3C bid.  West bids 4S, which I have no reason to do anything over.

Partner's Ten of clubs is enouraging.  I play AK-and-another club, which partner ruffs.  West, fully believing my 3C bid shows a minimum of 18 HCP, decides to try and drop my stiff King of spades.  So we end up setting this two tricks.

+200 is 79%.  I admit, I was expecting more, but lots of people also bid 3C with my hand and also collected +200 for their efforts.

Robot
A10
J32
6542
AQJ7
Robot
53
A105
AK1083
642
Robot
J84
K84
J97
9853
Sterman
KQ9762
Q976
Q
K10
W
N
E
S
1
P
P
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
3
9
Q
3
1
0
6
2
A
4
1
2
0
A
7
10
4
1
3
0
K
J
K
6
1
4
0
10
J
Q
5
3
5
0
7
J
5
8
0
5
1
A
2
5
2
3
6
1
9
3
10
K
2
6
2
3
6
7
4
3
7
2
K
A
3
4
0
7
3
Q
6
9
7
3
8
3
Q
J
5
8
2
8
4
8
9
10
8
0
8
5
N/S -200
13

In fourth seat I balance 2S, which is only a mild lie.  But I pay the maximum toll for this lie.  Partner raises me to 4S.  I get a diamond lead, and I quickly win the Queen cross to the Ace of hearts, and play AK of diamonds, pitching my club losers.

All well and good.  But I have to realize that I am in the dummy for the last time.  The best chance to make this contract is to play a heart and hope to guess the hearts right.  But nope, I try cashing the Ten of diamonds, and when East ruffs with the Jack, I realize the folly of my ways.  No recovery from this.  I end up down two and grimacing.

-200 is worth 37.1%, which is frankly more than I deserve.  Fortunately I have lots of company, not just in 4S-2 but also 1NT-2 misadventures.

Robot
9875
106
J62
AKQ2
Robot
A10643
Q43
A10
874
Robot
KJ
K98
K753
10965
Sterman
Q2
AJ752
Q984
J3
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
5
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
5
3
0
0
1
A
7
9
J
0
0
2
Q
8
10
2
3
1
2
4
2
10
K
2
1
3
5
8
6
A
1
2
3
3
8
J
6
3
3
3
A
10
4
9
3
4
3
Q
J
3
7
3
5
3
9
9
4
3
3
6
3
5
5
Q
K
2
6
4
6
7
2
6
3
7
4
Q
8
A
K
1
8
4
10
J
2
7
2
8
5
N/S +110
13

So, when I look at 10 HCP, I know all the robots have 10 HCP as well.  I don't want to pass, but there's certainly a lot of peril in bidding; I have to tread carefully.  I open a third-seat 1H, and am pleased when the robot bids a Drury 2C.  I quickly sign off in 2H.

West has a clearcut lead that for once matches what a human would always lead.  I ruff the third round and consider.  I am probably going to need to ruff at least one diamond in the dummy, so I start with a low diamond to the Ten, pleased when this forces the King.  A diamond comes back and now I lead a low heart to the Jack.  This holds, and everyone follows to the Ace.  Excellent.  I am now assured of eight tricks.  I try to endplay East into leading away from its King of spades, but alas it has a club exit, and I settle for just enough.

+110 is worth 83.9%.  As expected, most people passed it out, and a couple of people went down in 2H.

Robot
A65
8643
Q982
97
Robot
J107
9752
AJ1076
10
Robot
KQ8
QJ
5
AJ65432
Sterman
9432
AK10
K43
KQ8
W
N
E
S
1
1NT
P
P
P
D
6
1NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
2
J
K
3
1
0
3
2
10
5
1
2
0
6
2
K
9
3
3
0
4
8
J
4
1
4
0
A
6
2
Q
1
5
0
7
5
3
4
1
6
0
5
Q
A
6
3
7
0
10
8
7
3
3
8
0
Q
9
10
A
2
8
1
K
4
5
7
2
8
2
8
9
A
10
0
8
3
6
J
Q
8
2
8
4
J
K
7
9
3
9
4
N/S +150
13

I've become very cautious about overcalling 1NT against the robots, especially with minimal flat hands, but passing seems worse and I'm not vulnerable.  Fortunately West doesn't double this time.

I like the heart lead - the robots almost never underlead an honor, so I feel very good the QJ of hearts are onside.  I don't have the entries to finesse East for the Queen of diamonds so I finesse against West instead, mildly surprised when it works.

I pitch spades on the diamonds, and after cashing the diamond I'm at a crossroads.  I'm in dummy for the last time.  I could play a club towards the KQ, but if East ducks I gain no advantage.  Instead I go with my trick-one inference and take the heart finesse instead.  The Queen pops so there's no guess. I set up one more club trick and end up with nine tricks.

+150 is worth 64.1%, the most common result. Only one person got to 3NT and found a good lie of the cards.  Some people actually made ten tricks by playing a club towards the KQx early and ending up pseudo-squeezing East.

Robot
53
KJ32
10532
KQ4
Robot
AJ10
94
K984
10972
Robot
9876
AQ75
Q
J863
Sterman
KQ42
1086
AJ76
A5
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P
D
7
2NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
4
Q
A
3
1
0
2
3
A
9
1
2
0
J
6
4
5
1
3
0
10
8
Q
3
3
4
0
K
3
4
7
3
5
0
J
5
8
6
3
6
0
6
10
K
7
1
7
0
9
5
7
J
1
8
0
2
8
A
4
3
9
0
5
K
7
3
0
9
1
Q
9
J
6
0
9
2
2
9
Q
8
2
9
3
A
10
K
10
2
9
4
N/S +150
13

As I said in the intro, I don't make wild 1NT bids anymore against robots, and this 14 HCP 1NT opener is the wildest you'll see me get.  The computer invited to 2NT and for once I didn't take the push.

A diamond lead goes to the Queen and my Ace.  I still have to guess if somone possibly started with four diamonds including the Ten.  If it's anyone, it'll be East, but I don't have to commit myself right now.  I cash my spades and West helpfully discards a diamond, alleviating my concerns about that suit.  I futz around a bit but in the end I just have my nine tricks.  A shame I didn't take the push.

+150 is worth a surprising 83.9%.  A look at the traveller reveals an easy explanation - if you don't open my hand 1NT, then North become declarer in NT, and now the robots defend more intelligently.  West doesn't discard a diamond, and those humans that started diamonds by playing the King first found they had a diamond loser now.  Indeed, the four humans who did bid 3NT went down in exactly this way.

I'm not going to change my tactics, but it's a shame - I could have had a complete top by raising myself to 3NT.

Robot
K64
A109875
97
73
Robot
53
4
Q8
AK1098652
Robot
QJ987
KQ62
42
QJ
Sterman
A102
J3
AKJ10653
4
W
N
E
S
2
3
3
5
P
P
P
D
8
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
4
6
3
0
0
1
6
3
J
A
3
1
1
4
3
A
Q
1
2
1
K
J
2
7
1
3
1
10
9
10
7
0
3
2
K
5
Q
3
3
4
2
J
5
8
2
1
5
2
11 tricks claimed
N/S +400
7

Ugh.  Over 3H I have a real dilemma.  I want to bid 6D but I can't be absolutely sure partner has a stiff heart.  And it's just as well I didn't - I butcher the play.  I win the trick two spade shift and, rather than ruff a heart and run trumps postponing a decision on the club suit until I have more information, I decide to get cute and play clubs right away.  When they break two-two I have a problem - if the trumps break 3-1, I could potentially go down in a cold contract if I play diamond to the Ace, diamond to the Queen.  I play safely for eleven tricks, and dangit - trumps did break 2-2.

Darn it all to heck.  I'm lucky I get as much as 27.4%.  Almost everyone made twelve tricks.  I wish I could say this was my worst play of the session, but just you wait.

Robot
QJ9864
74
A875
10
Robot
10
8652
104
Q98652
Robot
A753
K103
962
K43
Sterman
K2
AQJ9
KQJ3
AJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
9
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
Q
4
J
1
1
0
2
3
J
4
3
2
0
A
7
5
10
3
3
0
3
5
10
2
1
4
0
2
3
7
9
3
5
0
A
7
5
K
3
6
0
J
8
4
9
3
7
0
Q
A
8
6
1
8
0
9
K
2
4
2
8
1
A
K
8
10
2
8
2
5
9
6
6
3
9
2
11 tricks claimed
N/S +450
11

A standard auction in any context gets me to 4H.  The club lead looks like a stiff.  I play the Queen and East declines to cover - maybe it's seen me open 2NT too many times with a stiff Ace.

With a bunch of losers yet to come, I risk a potentially cold contract by taking the heart finesse.  It works. I don't want to risk the robots discovering their club ruff, and if West has a stiff club, it's likely to be the one with long hearts, so there's a good chance my Ace of hearts will drop East's King.  Nope!

Still, remember what I said about concealing high card points.  What happens next is a great example of this.  I lead a diamond to the Ten, not entirely surprised when it holds.  I take the marked club finesse - no way West is lead the Ten from KT(x) of clubs -  and cash the Ace of clubs, West shedding a spade and a club.

At this point there are eleven high card points in my hand that West doesn't know about.  It also can't be sure who has the King of hearts - maybe I started with AKQJ of hearts, after all.  So when I lead the Jack of diamonds, West *ducks*.  As i said, the robots are capable of very silly mistakes when they don't have a good count on your hand.  When the Jack holds, it's a simple matter for me to ruff out the Ace of diamonds.  I end up with eleven tricks.

+450 is worth 87.5%.  Not many found this line, and some actually went down.  Two pairs managed to take my "concealing high card points" to another level by leading towards the Ten of diamonds after a heart to the Jack holds.  They then repeated the heart finesse, winning the Queen.  *Before cashing the Ace of hearts* they then led the Jack of diamonds, inducing a duck by West.  Now they had twelve tricks.  Well done by those two humans.

Robot
10
Q108
Q985
Q8764
Robot
AK53
J954
AK32
3
Robot
J94
7632
J104
J109
Sterman
Q8762
AK
76
AK52
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
2N
P
3N
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
5N
P
6
P
7
P
P
P
D
10
7 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
3
9
K
3
1
0
2
4
3
J
1
2
0
A
4
2
10
1
3
0
K
J
6
7
1
4
0
4
3
K
8
3
5
0
5
8
5
10
1
6
0
5
2
A
10
3
7
0
13 tricks claimed
N/S +2210
7

This is the first time I felt like I took a real gamble.  I opened 1S, and was pleased by the robot's 2NT response.  I bid 3NT, the intermediate bid, and against was pleased by the robot's 4D cuebid.  I know asked for keycards and found three.  I then asked for Kings and robot admitted to the King of diamonds.

Well.  All my losers are now accounted for - except for the third and fourth club.  The computer has admitted to 14 HCP and can't have more than my 16 HCP, so it has at most one more Queen.  If that's the Queen of clubs, I have a chance.  Or if it has club shortness.  Or if I can set up its diamonds or hearts.  Lots of possible scenarios, but not necessarily ones with a high percentage of being possible.  Still, I feel like if there's any kind of chance I should take it if I want to win this event.  So I bid 7S.

I await the dummy with tremendous anxiety, and my relief that the robot shows up with a stiff club is tempered by the fact that thirteen tricks are still not certain.  For one, I can't handle 4-0 trumps.  And unless trumps are 2-2, I still have to decide what to do with my fourth club.

The club lead is the six and East plays the Nine.  I win and feel safe in immediately ruffing a club - if West started with QJTxxxx of clubs it surely would have led the Queen.  The four appears from West, I ruff, and East plays the Jack.  I cash the AK of spades now, but alas, East started with three.

Decision time: ruff another club, or hope that someone started with Qxx of hearts?  As the cards lie I can't guess wrong, but the clubs spots pretty much guarantee that clubs are breaking 5-3 - West's 6-4 sure looks like it's from an original five-card suit, and East would not have played the Nine at trick one unless it also held the Ten.

So: heart to my hand, ruff a club as everyone follows as expected.  Heart from the dummy, and when East follows suit I breathe a sigh of relief.  I win in my hand and claim thirteen tricks.

"Only" 87.1%.  Plenty of people found this grand, and there's no way to go down.  Two other people ruffed two clubs in the dummy, five people ruffed out the Queen of hearts, and one person pseudo-squeezed West.

Robot
A10
J642
A6432
52
Robot
K65
K1053
105
K1063
Robot
J983
Q987
97
987
Sterman
Q742
A
KQJ8
AQJ4
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
11
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
5
9
J
3
1
0
8
6
10
7
1
2
0
3
7
J
5
3
3
0
Q
4
5
8
3
4
0
2
A
6
9
0
4
1
A
3
9
K
0
4
2
2
5
9
4
0
4
3
10
K
3
7
1
5
3
10 tricks claimed
N/S +430
8

A disappointing hand.  I chose to open 2NT with my stiff Ace.  I got to 3NT, and West led a diamond. I won and led back a diamond, which West ducked.  I led a club to my Jack and another diamond, and West ducked again.  Now when I led a spade, West had two diamonds to cash and I was held to ten tricks.

If I had abandoned diamonds after the first two rounds and led a spade, West would have hopped up with the Ace, giving me two spade tricks.  Now I can safely knock out the Ace of diamonds.  I'm not certain this is the right line but it works wonders on this hand.  Also, those Souths who opened 1C or 1D got a much softer defense from the robots - either taking the Ace of diamonds a trick earlier, or actually beginning the defense with Ace-and-another spade.

Sigh.

+430 was 43.8%.  Again, no reason to change my tactics, but my decision to open 2NT did lead directly to my below-average score.

Robot
9853
J85
1093
764
Robot
A
Q103
AJ742
Q985
Robot
K10764
A962
65
103
Sterman
QJ2
K74
KQ8
AKJ2
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
2
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
6NT
P
P
P
D
12
6NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
3
A
4
2
0
1
4
2
3
A
1
1
1
2
6
K
3
3
2
1
12 tricks claimed
N/S +1440
3

So what do do with a 3334 nineteen count over partner's 1D opener?  I temporized with 2C and the computer raised to 3C.  Mousing over 3C revealed, to my surprise, that this promised four clubs.  I asked for keycards and found two plus the Queen of clubs.

Well.  6C is certainly the safest contract, and at IMPs I would bid it in a heartbeat.  But this is matchpoints.  I imagine most humans will bid 6NT with this hand and may very well make it.  I have to decide whether to hope that 6NT is hopeless or that I can manage twelve tricks in notrump through clever play or a bad lead.

I go for aggressivenes as usual and bid 6NT.

I consider the Five of hearts lead very carefully for a long time.  The robot hates to underlead honors, so I expect the Jack to be with East.  And yet, I don't see a path to twelve tricks unless I can get two heart tricks.  I do have one possibility:  If I do believe East has the AJ of hearts, then I can hope East also has the King of spades.  I can play the Queen of hearts at trick one, forcing the Ace.  East won't be able to continue hearts, and I can run clubs and diamonds, reducing to Tx of hearts and a high diamond in dummy opposite Kx of hearts in my hand and the Queen of spades.  When I lead the last high diamond, East won't be able to guard both major suits.

Still, the computer has heard us bid clubs and diamonds quite strongly.  It is going to rule out leading either of those suits, so it's quite possible it had no choice but to underlead an honor, and would have preferred leading from Jxx of hearts raither than Kxxx of spades.

It's a dilemma.  I finally decide to mildly hedge my bets.  I play low from the dummy.  It's quite possible that East won't know it's safe to play the Eight from some holding like AJ8x and will play an honor instead.  If the robot does play the Nine or Eight, I can always reconsider finessing the Ten.

As it turns out, the robot is afraid to play the Nine from A9xx and flies the Ace.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  When diamonds don't break 5-0 I claim twleve tricks.

Looking at the hands later, I don't know why West didn't find the killing spade lead.  Usually it eschews Jxx leads like this.  Maybe against slams it takes a more aggressive approach to underleading honors?  That's probably it.

+1440 is 80.7%.  As expected I had lots of company.  Those Souths who immediately bid 6NT over partner's 1D opening of found other imaginative bidding sequences ended up persuading West to lead a spade, and now they had to go down.

A bit capricious.  Why my sequence calls for a heart lead while 1D - 6NT calls for a spade lead I'll never figure out.

Robot
3
AQ94
Q1032
QJ75
Robot
J10974
J103
J95
104
Robot
Q865
K5
K874
A32
Sterman
AK2
8762
A6
K986
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
XX
1
X
P
P
P
D
13
1X North
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
2
4
3
2
0
1
5
6
A
10
0
0
2
Q
J
2
7
0
0
3
9
J
Q
8
2
0
4
6
A
3
4
3
1
4
A
10
5
8
3
2
4
6
2
9
K
2
2
5
5
2
7
7
1
3
5
J
7
K
3
3
4
5
6
J
4
3
0
4
6
5
10
A
8
2
4
7
4
9
Q
9
1
5
7
10
8
K
Q
1
6
7
N/S -200
13

I like to compete aggressively for matchpoints against the robots and have no compunction about making a takeout double with this hand.  West redoubles, partner bids 1S, and East doubles for penalty.  This is not-unheard for the robots but it is rare.  I have nowhere to go so I pass.

The computer find the inspired lead of the King of hearts, and two more rounds quickly follow.  On the fourth round of hearts I ruff high in dummy.  I expect this to be overruffed, but I aslo expect that East has Qxxx of trumps for its double.  Since I can't pick this up anyway, forcing an early shortening of East's hand helps me to maintain control.

East does, in fact, overruff and continues with a spade.  I need to get a diamond ruff in my hand, so I play Ace of diamonds, diamond.  East wins and persists in trumps.  I win in the dummy.

Dangit.  I want to lead towards the King of clubs but if I do, East may win and play its last spade and now I'm down one anyway.  And if the King loses to the Ace and club comes back to East who then leads another spade, I could end up down two.

Reluctuantly, I ruff my diamond loser in the dummy and give up two club tricks.  Down one doubled, vulnerable, is not a result I feel good about.

-200 is, quite to my surprise, 67.2%.  It turns out most people made a takeout double with my hand and ended up in 1Sx.  And many people didn't play it as carefully as I did and went down two or even three tricks.  Some even redoubled 1S.

Two people took no action with this hand and ended up defending 3NT and setting it a trick for 95%.  One person actually made 1Sx by winning trick five in dummy and immediately playing the Ten of clubs, ducked to the King, and another club.  Now that human had the tempo to ruff two clubs in dummy, a line I never even considered.  Well done.

Robot
J8
KQ103
J72
K983
Robot
K753
42
KQ84
J65
Robot
Q1096
9876
3
AQ74
Sterman
A42
AJ5
A10965
102
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P
D
14
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
2
6
5
0
0
1
J
3
10
A
3
1
1
5
7
K
3
1
2
1
Q
7
6
2
1
3
1
4
9
A
J
3
4
1
2
8
5
6
0
4
2
9
5
A
2
2
4
3
4
10
K
6
0
4
4
3
4
8
J
3
5
4
9 tricks claimed
N/S +110
9

The last time I played an NABC robot individual, I despaired at the sheer number of completely flat boards there were, even in a 25-person section.  Not much chance of scoring well if you're getting dead average on each hand.  This session I had been blessed with almost no flat hands - except this.  In earlier days I would have openend 1NT, but now I bid a simple 1D.   In earlier days I would have raised 1S to 2S, but instead I bid a simple 1NT.  In earlier days I would have raised partner's 2D to 3D, but instead I passed 2D.

Not much to the play.  I had to lose a spade, a heart, and two clubs.  I gave the robots every chance to misdefend and they refused to blunder.

+110 was 54.8%.  This result was achieved all but five times.  Two people held themselves to eight tricks, two people got too high, and one person did in fact open 1NT and ended up in 2NT.  Eight tricks are assured, and they scored +120 and a complete top.  Ah, for the days of my unbridled youth.

Robot
AQ1062
QJ10953
72
Robot
K875
KJ73
742
65
Robot
AQJ10943
4
6
A1093
Sterman
62
985
AK8
KQJ84
W
N
E
S
1
2NT
P
4
P
5
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
15
5X West
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
A
8
2
2
0
1
A
2
7
8
2
0
2
4
5
A
7
0
0
3
2
3
6
8
2
0
4
4
6
3
7
0
0
5
Q
K
3
9
1
1
5
J
9
4
10
1
2
5
5
3
J
5
0
2
6
Q
7
10
K
3
3
6
Q
9
5
9
0
3
7
10
4
J
A
3
4
7
K
J
2
10
0
4
8
6
K
Q
8
3
5
8
E/W -500
13

Another hand I might have opened 1NT in an earlier age, but I contented myself with 1C.  The opponents' auction then zoomed into the stratosphere.  A two-suited overcall, an attempt to sign off in 4S, and a correction to 5D.  Looking at AKx of trumps, I feel somewhat safe in doubling this - the opponents have a huge misfit, and we surely have at least one other trick coming.

Partner leads my suit.  Declarer wins the Ace, pitches a club on the Ace of spades, then plays Ace of hearts and ruff a heart.  If declarer ends up being - AKQJx QJT9xx xx, I am going to be very annoyed.

Not to worry,  Declarer ruffs a spade to hand and plays a heart.  Partner cashes the KJ of hearts and exits with a club.  Now I have the tempo to force declarer's trumps, and my Eight of diamonds ends up being the third undertrick.

+500 is 90.3%.  Surprisingly few people doubled.  To flip the script from the previous board, those people who opened a 13-point 1NT saw the robots get to 4S instead.  This is much more difficult to double, and even though 4S was down three, -150 was only 26%.

Robot
J1074
K432
A104
106
Robot
65
108
Q9765
KJ53
Robot
K983
A6
KJ83
842
Sterman
AQ2
QJ975
2
AQ97
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
16
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
3
8
Q
3
1
0
5
3
8
A
2
1
1
6
7
4
10
1
2
1
5
3
Q
7
3
3
1
9
K
5
8
0
3
2
4
6
K
A
3
4
2
J
2
6
4
3
5
2
7
6
K
2
1
6
2
J
3
A
4
3
7
2
9
10
5
J
3
8
2
Q
10
7
K
3
9
2
2
A
9
9
0
9
3
J
Q
8
2
0
9
4
N/S +140
13

Yet another hand I might have opened 1NT once upon a time.  Instead I content myself with a simple 1H, and also only bid 2C over partner's 1NT, and then pass partner's 2H correction.  Gosh, I've beome timid in this new age of GIB.

I win the club lead in hand.  I'm much more interested in getting trumps off the table then trying to engineer a spade ruff, especially with a club ruff looming.  So I immediately lead a heart to the Eight and Ace.  A heart back is won in dummy with the Ten.  I don't want to risk a club at this point, so decided now is as good a time as any to take the spade finesse.  It wins.  I now knock out the King of hearts, and when a spade comes back i can win it, draw the last trump, and run my clubs.  Nine tricks feels like a good result.

+140 is worth 66.1%.  Lots of people made ten tricks by winning the first club in dummy and taking an immediate spade finesse.  If the robots had defended intelligently, those humans could have been held to eight tricks, but the robots instead drew trumps for declarer, allowing them to take ten tricks.  One person actually bid 4H and made it on this line of play.

I'm not going to alter my style of play, but maybe I should have bid 3C.

Robot
K4
KQ42
AQ97
942
Robot
65
AJ10653
103
Q103
Robot
987
98
652
K8765
Sterman
AQJ1032
7
KJ84
AJ
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
17
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
3
K
A
3
1
0
7
Q
A
9
1
2
0
5
7
10
K
0
2
1
4
10
8
J
3
3
1
A
4
6
9
3
4
1
Q
2
3
8
3
5
1
J
9
5
2
3
6
1
4
7
10
6
1
7
1
Q
5
8
9
1
8
1
3
5
J
Q
0
8
2
K
6
8
2
3
9
2
3
4
10
7
3
10
2
K
A
J
6
0
10
3
N/S +420
13

An interesting tactical decision.  Over 2H I bid a forcing 2S, and the robot bids 3H, its weakest response.  My spades are almost surely better than the robot's hearts, and my hand is pretty good, but I don't see ten tricks unless the robot has help.  So I bid 3S after making sure it was non-forcing.  To my gratification, the robot raises me to 4S.

Not much to the play.  The club lead to the King and Ace means I'm losing at most two diamonds, and when the King of spades proves to be offisde I now have three losers.  That's still ten tricks.

+420 is worth 75.8%, a multi-way tie for top.  Some went down and some passed 3H.

Robot
1075
1073
AQJ8
1097
Robot
4
984
543
QJ8642
Robot
KQJ86
J2
K10972
A
Sterman
A932
AKQ65
6
K53
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
X
P
P
P
D
18
4X East
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
3
4
2
3
1
0
K
7
9
J
3
2
0
Q
10
8
6
2
2
1
K
2
7
4
2
2
2
8
3
10
4
0
2
3
7
8
A
3
2
2
4
2
6
8
3
0
2
5
Q
5
10
5
0
2
6
A
4
9
9
3
3
6
A
5
6
J
3
4
6
5
9
2
Q
2
4
7
K
6
J
Q
2
4
8
7
K
10
J
2
4
9
E/W -100
13

Over 1S I overcall 2H.  The opponents brush this aside to reach 4S.

I look at my long spades and solid hearts.  There's a good chance I can force declarer enough in hearts to get it to lose control.  It's not a sure thing, but it seems a good bet, and hey, maybe partner will show up with a trick.  So I double.

It goes exactly as expected.  I play hearts from the top.  Declarer ruffs the third round and leads a spade, which I duck, and another spade, which I duck again.  If declarer plays another spade I can win and force out its last trump with another heart.  Now I'll have a good heart to cash when I get in with the last spade.

The robot, alas, is good enough to see the writing on the wall.  It abandons trumps and begins running its diamonds.  I score my little trump and the Ace of trumps, but that's it.  Only down one.

+200 is worth 98.4%.  Only ten of the thirty-two humans playing this board managed to set 4S, and only one other person of those ten doubled it.  The tale was universally the same; while the AKQ of hearts were led, most humans grabbed the first spade trick.

The fact that most people misdefended actually affected my score only minimally.  Only four people doubled 4S, so no matter what I was getting a near-top.  Or a near-bottom; if someone had held a stiff heart I'd be singing a sadder tune.

Robot
10876
QJ9642
KQ6
Robot
43
73
A10872
AK42
Robot
KQJ95
A5
953
1073
Sterman
A2
K108
J4
QJ9865
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
2
3
P
P
P
D
19
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
A
8
2
0
1
K
A
8
3
3
1
1
5
2
A
10
1
2
1
K
3
6
4
1
3
1
2
7
Q
6
3
4
1
K
6
7
5
3
5
1
10
J
4
9
1
6
1
2
3
J
Q
0
6
2
10
4
5
2
0
6
3
K
A
9
4
1
7
3
10 tricks claimed
N/S +130
10

Another 11-point wonder.  This won is at least a player.  I open 1C, and partner cuebids 2H over the 1H overcall.  East bids 2S.  I suppose I could bid 2NT - I do have hearts and spade stopped, after all - put partner would need the AK of clubs *and* a diamond trick *and* another trick besides.  I bid a timid 3C, passed out.

Alas, partner puts down the almost-perfect dummy for 3NT.  Still, I'm in 3C, so I have to concentrate on that.  Actually not much to think about; a heart goes to East's Ace, setting up my King.  The spade switch means the opponents can cash a spade when I knock out a diamond stopper, so I'm held to ten tricks.  I consider 3NT, and it looks like it goes down on a spade lead, and it looks like West should lead a spade, so I'm hopeful.

+130 is worth 63.3%.  No one bid 3NT.  Two people managed eleven tricks in clubs by eliminating the hearts before knocking out the diamond stopper.  For some inexplicable reason this convinced West to *continue diamonds* instead of spades.  This seems like a 100% losing play.

Robot
A10963
A1087
85
102
Robot
K754
5
AKJ1062
K8
Robot
J
K96432
943
964
Sterman
Q82
QJ
Q7
AQJ753
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
20
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
4
J
Q
3
1
0
Q
8
2
3
3
2
0
7
5
A
9
1
3
0
K
4
2
8
1
4
0
J
4
8
6
1
5
0
10
4
J
10
1
6
0
6
3
Q
3
1
7
0
K
6
3
2
1
8
0
8
9
A
10
3
9
0
Q
9
5
6
3
10
0
13 tricks claimed
N/S +720
10

This time I throw science to the wind.  I have lots of Queens I want to protect, so instead of bidding 2C over partner's 1D opener, I jump to 3NT.

I gulp when dummy comes down.  We have at least five heart losers.  My only hope is that East will simply continue spades after winning the Ace.  When instead East plays the Jack of spades, I let out a big sigh of relief.  It takes me a surprsingly long time to realize I have thirteen tricks and can claim.

+720 is 85.5%.  No game legitimately makes, so not surprisingly most people were going down.  This time, blasting was the right tactic. 

Robot
84
109632
J74
732
Robot
A9
KQ54
53
J10954
Robot
KQJ1075
7
K86
KQ8
Sterman
632
AJ8
AQ1092
A6
W
N
E
S
P
1
2
P
P
2
P
P
3
P
P
P
D
21
3 North
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
2
8
A
1
1
0
4
8
A
2
3
2
0
6
3
9
K
2
2
1
Q
3
4
9
2
2
2
J
6
2
5
1
3
2
J
Q
2
7
2
3
3
10
9
6
10
1
4
3
4
7
A
10
3
5
3
J
3
5
6
3
6
3
8
9
K
8
1
7
3
Q
7
10
4
1
8
3
3
K
A
J
3
9
3
Q
7
5
5
3
10
3
N/S +130
13

I overcall 2D over East's 1S, then pass 2S.

The robot balances with 3C.  If you hover over the 3C, you'll see it only promises four clubs.  Plus the robot might have three diamonds.  Still, I have experience enough with the robot to know it just won't balance 3C with only four clubs.  It's quite likely to have five or six of them.  My Ax of clubs looks good in that context, so I pass 3C.

I win the King of spades with the Ace. Unless the KQ of clubs are doubleton, I see no legitimate way to pick up the clubs for one loser - Jack of clubs to the King and Ace, club to the Nine and Queen, but then King of spades, spade ruffed with the Seven promotes the Eight - so I just bang down Ace of clubs, club.

Clubs break 3-3 and the King of diamonds is onside, so I escape for ten tricks.  This feels like a maximum result.

Nope!  +130 is worth a respectable 62.9%, but lots of humans are making eleven tricks by picking up the club suit for one loser when the robot doesn't find the uppercut.  And one human, with 632 of spades, bid 3NT over the robot's 3C bid.  This proved unbeatable as long as you make sure to lose a diamond trick to West after ducking the first spade and winning the second.

Robot
A108
J74
KJ103
QJ9
Robot
53
2
A98752
AK73
Robot
J976
K10863
4
854
Sterman
KQ42
AQ95
Q6
1062
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
1N
P
2
P
3N
P
P
P
D
22
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
2
K
A
3
1
0
6
10
A
4
1
2
0
2
8
Q
K
0
2
1
8
3
J
Q
3
3
1
2
J
K
4
1
4
1
7
6
6
J
0
4
2
3
9
9
5
1
5
2
8
7
2
7
1
6
2
5
6
9
J
1
7
2
A
5
10
Q
1
8
2
3
8
Q
9
0
8
3
A
5
10
4
0
8
4
10
7
3
K
3
9
4
N/S +400
13

The computer and I have a torturous auction to 3NT.  This is unbeatable if you make the best play of Queen of diamonds from your hand at trick two.  I don't, but the computer bails me out by winning the second round of diamonds instead of ducking.

I win the spade shift, cross to a club, and knock out the last diamond.  The computer wins and leads another diamond, locking me on the board.  With no choice I finish the diamonds, pitching a diamond and a heart.

Look at the position as I cash the last diamond.  West is caught in a peculiar squeeze.  If it pitches a spade, I can duck a spade.  It can throw me in the dummy with a club, but I can throw it right back in with another club.  It has to lead a heart to my good Queen of hearts.  If it pitches a club, I can cash the Ace of clubs and then exit with a spade.  It gets two more spades but again has to lead a heart to my Queen.

It avoids the stepping stone squeeze by pitching the Jack of hearts.  But now I can simply endplay it.  I'm pretty sure West is now out of hearts, so I play Ace of clubs, club pitching my good heart.  West wins and is endplayed into giving me the King of spades.

I don't know what you call this.  A compound stepping stone squeeze and/or endplay?  I've never seen the like.

+400 is worth 83.3%.  Turns out this is a very difficult hand to defend and the robot found lots of ways to give the humans nine tricks.  I will say, though, that no one made it quite the way I made it.  This is a fascinating position I'm not sure I'll ever come across again.

Robot
74
KJ
J975
KJ542
Robot
KJ83
9842
63
Q76
Robot
1095
A1073
Q84
1083
Sterman
AQ62
Q65
AK102
A9
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
23
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
3
9
A
3
1
0
2
4
J
5
1
2
0
K
10
6
2
1
3
0
2
7
Q
K
0
3
1
J
4
3
5
0
3
2
5
3
Q
K
3
4
2
6
7
8
A
2
4
3
8
10
J
6
0
4
4
9
6
4
A
3
5
4
2
4
8
3
1
6
4
9
10
Q
5
3
7
4
A
J
7
10
3
8
4
9
K
Q
8
0
8
5
N/S -200
13

Remember when I said you hadn't yet seen the worst play I made?  Well, we've finally arrived.

I almost always open 19 points hand 2NT against the robot.  After that we got to 4S in the usual way.

As you can see, ten tricks are easy unless West finds the double-dummy lead of the King of hearts.  If you play for the King of clubs to be onside and the heart suit to be blocked - not unreasonable given the heart spots - then ten tricks are there.

Nope.  After drawing trumps (first mistake), I attack hearts.  That doesn't work out so well and I'm slated to go down one.  But then I lose track of the diamonds, and when I lead the good two of diamonds I ruff it.  Now I have to lose a second undertrick.

Ugh.

-200 is a well-deserved 3.2%.  Going down one would have at least gotten me 37%.  The way I played this hand, with no real planning and without paying attention to the discards, is just inexcusable.

Robot
AJ9754
A63
4
1096
Robot
8
KQ9854
AK852
4
Robot
1063
7
QJ103
KJ732
Sterman
KQ2
J102
976
AQ85
W
N
E
S
2
3
3
4
P
P
P
D
24
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
Q
A
8
0
0
1
4
K
3
6
1
1
1
4
7
10
A
0
1
2
10
4
2
Q
3
2
2
A
6
2
7
3
3
2
K
4
5
10
3
4
2
J
6
5
3
3
5
2
2
3
K
6
1
6
2
Q
Q
7
9
1
7
2
9
K
5
J
1
8
2
8
J
2
9
1
9
2
A
J
9
7
1
10
2
8
10
8
5
2
10
3
N/S +420
13

After 2S - 3H - 3S, I desperately want to bid a matchpoint 3NT.  But... I can envision the defense.  Low spade to the Jack and Queen.  Heart finesse, losing to the King on my right.  Spade through, and now they cash five spades.  The more I think about it, the less I like the quality of my spade stopper.  After a minute of serious cogitation, I bid 4H.

A spade goes to the Queen and Ace, and a diamond comes back.  That looks like a stiff diamond, but I'm not too concerned - if a trump goes to the Ace and a diamond comes back, West will be ruffing my diamond loser.  Instead, when I lead a heart, it's West who wins.  It leads a club into my AQ.

Well, that makes things easy.  I pitch one diamond on the King of spades, another on a high club, then draw trump and claim, losing a diamond.

+420 is a many-way tie for top at 71%.  Several people went down in 4H and several people sold out to 3S.  Interestingly no one bid 3NT, which as the cards lie has ten tricks as well.

I end up with a 69.40% game, good enough for 14th overall.  Here's hoping I get as lucky tomorrow.

25 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top