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Here we are with another Mentor-Mentee Game, and, as always, the online hands and comments are based on McBruce against the computer players inside the program JACK, the world's leading computer bridge program. 50 tables of JACK players have played these hands against each other overnight, before I come in to see how I can do. I have one computer player as a partner and two against me, so the odds are bad and I am hoping to do better than I did last time, when the computers left me contemplating calling 911 for help...

This website contains the commentary on the deals, which is done in advance of the game by Bruce McIntyre. First I get the computer program JACK, a first-class bridge-playing program, to play the deals 50 times with computer players. Then a program I wrote collects these results, and creates a file for me to fill in my auctions and comments as I play the deals. It also tells me whether to play South or West on each deal, choosing the more interesting hand, usually the side that declares, so that the comments will not be one-sided. When I play the hands I compare my scores against the 50 computer tables and see how I've done.

This time, the 50 computers were set at a level slightly less than best possible, so we should get a fair number of different results on the hands where there are many possible outcomes. All 50 tables plus my table are playing Standard American Yellow Card. In 2017, SAYC continues to be a good starting point on the way to 2/1, the system that dominates tournament bridge in North America. Without getting into the endless different bells and whistles that players choose for their 2/1 systems, I will occasionally make a comment on how a plain vanilla 2/1 auction might differ from SAYC.

To help you see what the computer players did, we show the complete deal, a sample auction (usually the one I had). Calls with an asterisk (*) appended are alertable and there will usually be an explanation in the comments. Calls with a plus sign (+) appended are not alertable but are special in some way and there will be an explanation in the comments. Beside the sample auction is the list of computer results, in order of frequency (with mine in blue at the bottom of the list, even if it matches a more frequent result). You can see how each result fared in the computer tournament by looking at the NS% column (you'll have to figure out EW% for yourself...). This is not a prediction of how well a result will score in the real game: that's almost unpredictable! On the right hand side of a wide screen, but down below if your screen is not wide enough, are my comments on the deal. Scroll down to see them all, plus the stats on the deal at the bottom. Below that are two more frequency lists. The first is a list of "six-packs": the first six calls in the auction and who made them (ignoring passes) from which you can see how auctions began at different computer tables. The second counts the most common opening lead cards. On some deals where both sides might become declarer, this list will include cards from different hands, but on deals where the same hand is usually declarer, this will show which cards were chosen by the artificial intelligence the most often.

The buttons along the top of the screen allow you to jump from board to board easily instead of scrolling along forever. You can view the hands in the order you played them (sometimes this helps to jog your memory of the afternoon, try it!) or view the ones you starred on your scoresheet to take a good look at later.

As always, what you see will depend a little bit on your browser and screen size. I have designed this to fit nicely on an iPad-sized screen and used specifically-selected fonts available to iOS, but I've specified similar ones when this page loads on other platforms.
 
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Board North None vul
North dealer
1 A754
Q3
West AJ874 East
862 73 KQJ9
98654 A7
T6 S: McB K92
852 T3 QJ96
August 12, 2017 KJT2 Matchpoint Pairs
Q53
AKT4
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
West North East S: McB Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- 1♦ 1NT Dble 2♥Xw-4 800 20 81
2♥ Pass Pass Dble 3NTn= 400 14 35
Pass Pass 2♠ Pass 3NTs-1 50 7 6
Pass Dble end 3NTs= 400 6 35
3NTs+1 430 2 57
2♥Xw-3 500 1 60
2♠*e-2 300 1 14

Right out of the gate it is a high-wire act, as East comes in with a perfectly normal 1NT overcall and thanks to partner's Yarborough, walks into a fusillade of red cards! When partner opens and the next player overcalls 1NT, ten points is enough for a penalty double: you may miss game but if you can take the same nine tricks on defense you'll score better. Nine tricks against 1NTx is 500, more than the 3NT will pay non-vulnerable. (If you are vulnerable and they are not the math might not work out as well and you may choose to play in 3NT instead.) South's double of 1NT is for penalties, and once you make a penalty double, all further doubles are for penalty, and letting the opponents play something undoubled is like a biker ordering quiche: just not something you do. South doubles 2♥ for penalties and East gambles that spades will be better. South cannot double this but South's pass of 2♠ is virtually forcing. North can double, and 2♠* becomes the final contract. As it happens, 3NT is almost impossible on a spade lead, but the defenders still have to collect the maximum. South starts with two high clubs and a club ruff, but slips slightly, leading the 4♣ instead of the T♣ at trick three for the club ruff. North reads the 4♣ as a suit preference signal for diamonds over hearts, and not wanting to lead from that diamond holding, switches to a disastrous trump, allowing declarer to escape for only two down and a good score. Down three would be 60% for the defenders, so that lost trick is significant! When you lead expecting a ruff and you have a choice which card to lead for the ruff, choose the highest card when you want a higher suit returned, and the lowest card when you'd prefer the lower of the other two suits. It matters...

RESULT: 2♠*e-2


Board #1  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:1113160
Freakness:3112
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:9944
Spades:8755
Hearts:8844
Diamonds:101033
Clubs:8855

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♦n;1NTe;Dbl-s;2♥w;Dbl-s;End x 21
1♦n;1NTe;Dbl-s;2♥w;3NTs;End x 15
1♦n;1NTe;Dbl-s;2♥w;Dbl-s;2♠e x 14

7♣ x 20
K♠ x 14
8♥ x 11
8♣ x 4
4♠ x 1

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Board North N-S vul
East dealer
2 AJ93
KQT9
W: McB 8764 East
874 Q KQT62
AJ7 652
AK93 South 5
T83 5 A965
August 12, 2017 843 Matchpoint Pairs
QJT2
KJ742
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- - Pass Pass 1♠e+1 110 20 51
1♦ Pass 1♠ Pass 1♠e+2 140 14 14
1NT end 3♠e-2 100 10 89
3♠e-1 50 2 77
1♠e= 80 2 73
3♠e= 140 1 14
3♠e-3 150 1 100
1NTw+1 120 1 30

The third-seat West hand is a 4-3-3-3 12 count and the computers all treat it as a light opener and pass 1♠, but I think I would open a hand like this in first or second chair, so I make what I think is the normal rebid of 1NT and play it there. With the 5-3 spade fit, I will have to make as many tricks in notrump as most make in spades for a good score. I duck the K♥ opening lead hoping North will continue with a second heart to my AJ, but North switches to the Q♣, overtaken by South after I duck in dummy. South switches to the Q♦ and it appears to be a war on three fronts. Two spades, two clubs, a heart and three diamonds make for a good score, since nobody can make nine tricks in spades.

RESULT: 1NTw+1


Board #2  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:127912
Freakness:3440
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:6577
Spades:5488
Hearts:7766
Diamonds:7755
Clubs:6666

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♦w;1♠e;End x 36
1♦w;1♠e;2♥n;3♠e;End x 14

5♠ x 38
3♥ x 11
Q♦ x 1

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Board North E-W vul
South dealer
3 Q64
Q965
W: McB KJT9 East
JT5 J4 AK82
K7 32
874 South A532
AKQ63 973 982
August 12, 2017 AJT84 Matchpoint Pairs
Q6
T75
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- - - Pass 3♣w+2 150 45 55
1♣ Pass 1♦ 1♥ 2NTw+3 210 5 4
1NT 2♦+ 3♣ end 3♣w+2 150 1 55

Don't let the 1♥ overcall prevent you from making your 1NT rebid. If partner has no help in hearts you must play notrump from your side or the opening lead may trap the king. North's 2♦ call is artificial and shows a decent single raise with four trumps. East's 3♣ bid surprisingly ends the auction even though South knows they have a nine-card fit in hearts. On the heart lead and continuation, eleven tricks in clubs are routine: win the heart, pull three rounds of trumps, lead the J♠, guess that spades are 3-3, lose only a diamond and the A♥. A few maniac computers are playing notrump with the North-South cards and outscore us, but +150 is pretty much average.

RESULT: 3♣w+2


Board #3  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:971113
Freakness:1212
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:221111
Spades:221111
Hearts:6677
Diamonds:4499
Clubs:221111

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♣w;1♦e;1♥s;1NTw;2♦n;3♣e x 43
1♣w;1♦e;1♥s;1NTw;2♦n;2NTe x 7

5♥ x 49
4♠ x 1

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Board North Both vul
West dealer
4 A93
A98
West AJT5 East
KQT6 J98 J72
532 Q4
K976 S: McB 8432
Q4 854 T653
August 12, 2017 KJT76 Matchpoint Pairs
Q
AK72
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
West North East S: McB Result NS EW Freq. NS%
Pass 1♦ Pass 1♥ 4♥s+1 650 26 75
Pass 1NT Pass 2♣* 4♥s= 620 20 28
Pass 3♥ Pass 4♥ 4♥s-1 100 2 5
end 4♥s-2 200 1 1
5♥s-2 200 1 1
4♥n= 620 1 28

I know we are supposed to be playing SAYC but this hand convinced me that you need New Minor Forcing even though it isn't part of the system. North rebids 1NT, promising at least two of each suit and 12-14 points, and South wonders whether North can have five hearts. The 2♣ call (the 'new minor') promises at least 11 points, but is artificial (says nothing at all about clubs) and asks North to describe further. The jump to 3♥ shows 13-14 and three-card support for hearts, making the game an easy one to bid. In standard this hand is shown by a reckless jump to 3♣, which might well get us too high. I play 4♥ like all the rest and blow a trick at the end for another below average score...

RESULT: 4♥n=


Board #4  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:1413310
Freakness:0411
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:111111
Spades:101033
Hearts:121211
Diamonds:9911
Clubs:111122

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♦n;1♥s;1NTn;3♣s;3♠n;4♥s x 46
1♦n;1♥s;1NTn;3♣s;3♥n;4♥s x 4

K♠ x 48
6♠ x 2

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Board North N-S vul
North dealer
5 K842
AQ92
W: McB QJT East
A95 97 763
KJ854 T3
965 South AK3
63 QJT AJ852
August 12, 2017 76 Matchpoint Pairs
8742
KQT4
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- 1♦ 2♣ 2♦ 2♥w-2 100 27 57
2♥ end 2♥w-2 100 1 57
2♥w-1 50 15 14
3♦n= 110 7 93
2♦n+1 110 1 93

North's 1♦ opener is one of those calls that five-card majors forces upon us. East overcalls, South raises, and I decide I have just enough to step in with a 2♥ bid, which is passed out and defeated routinely two tricks when trumps break badly and everything is offside. But at this vulnerability, 100 is not so bad since the opponents can make 110 in diamonds. I wonder what defensive gaffe allowed some declarers to escape for down only one?

RESULT: 2Hw-2


Board #5  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:128128
Freakness:1122
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:8855
Spades:8844
Hearts:6666
Diamonds:9944
Clubs:8855

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♦n;2♣e;2♦s;2♥w;End x 42
1♦n;2♣e;2♦s;2♥w;3♦s;End x 7
1♦n;2♣e;2♦s;End x 1

Q♦ x 42
T♥ x 8

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Board North E-W vul
East dealer
6 A852
KQJ82
W: McB QT4 East
JT63 A 97
A94 753
AJ South K87632
9875 KQ4 K4
August 12, 2017 T6 Matchpoint Pairs
95
QJT632
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
3♣s-1 50 32 34
3♥n+1 170 6 87
3♣s= 110 4 71
3♥n+3 230 3 98
2NTs= 120 1 76
3♥n= 140 1 80
3♥n+2 200 1 94
3♣s-2 100 1 0
3♥n-1 50 1 34
3♣♠+1 130 1 78

North's raise of South's 1NT response on a singleton is reasonable; 1NT denied four spades, so there is no fit there. The 3♣ call (as opposed to passing 2NT) tends to show an unbalanced and fairly weak hand. I lead a small spade, hoping for partner to have an honour or at least the 9♠, and to my surprise partner's seven forces out the king. I fail to pick up on the clues: this means that declarer has the queen as well, since partner would not try the seven holding the Q97, fearing letting declarer win with the ten if he had it. In with the A♥, I lead a second spade, won in dummy with the ace as declarer follows low. For some reason I continue to believe partner has the king and declarer is out of spades. Declarer cashes two hearts and then leads the Q♦ from dummy which I win with the ace. Already too late, declarer has pitched a diamond loser on the third heart and we can only get three tricks. To beat this I needed to switch to diamonds. Another bad score.

RESULT: 3C♠+1


Board #6  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:168610
Freakness:4441
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:9944
Spades:9944
Hearts:9944
Diamonds:6677
Clubs:8844

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♥n;1NTs;2NTn;3♣s;End x 37
1♥n;1NTs;2NTn;3♥s;End x 12
1♥n;1NTs;2NTn;End x 1

J♠ x 31
6♦ x 8
8♣ x 4
9♠ x 4
A♦ x 3

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Board North Both vul
South dealer
7 KQ4
AKJ3
West T4 East
T7653 Q865 A8
97 QT842
KJ976 S: McB Q2
4 J92 K972
August 12, 2017 65 Matchpoint Pairs
A853
AJT3
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
West North East S: McB Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- - - Pass 3NTn= 600 36 35
Pass 1NT Pass 3NT 3NTn+1 630 14 86
end 3NTn+1 630 1 86

After a simple auction, I get to switch seats and be declarer from the North chair, so the computer can rest. (Most programs allow you to declare when you become dummy for extra practice.) On the heart lead I can see nine fairly easy tricks, two spades, three hearts, three clubs, and a diamond, with a possibility of four club tricks if the king is onside. It is, and I make a good score.

RESULT: 3NTn+1


Board #7  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:1510114
Freakness:1136
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:9944
Spades:7766
Hearts:8844
Diamonds:7755
Clubs:9933

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1NTn;3NTs;End x 50

4♥ x 41
2♣ x 4
T♥ x 2
Q♦ x 1
8♥ x 1
Q♥ x 1

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Board North None vul
West dealer
8 A84
K76
West AQ62 East
T76 AK7 K95
AQ8 JT95
JT9 S: McB 875
T986 QJ32 J52
August 12, 2017 432 Matchpoint Pairs
K43
Q43
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
West North East S: McB Result NS EW Freq. NS%
Pass 2NT Pass 3♣ 3NTn= 400 47 47
Pass 3♦ Pass 3NT 3NTn= 400 1 47
end 3NTn+1 430 2 97
3NTn+2 460 1 100

Another basic auction, and another chance for me to take the declaring reins from North as the computer goes for a nap. Some players will tell you not to Stayman with 4-3-3-3 hands, but I don't agree: often the notrump opener can have a doubleton here or there, making the 4-4 fit better in the long run. The J♥ opening lead should be chosen at almost every table, and declarer has one spade, one heart, three clubs and three diamonds, with a possible fourth in diamonds for nine tricks, or a spade finesse. The first step is to duck the opening lead and win the third round of hearts if possible. If this comes down to a finesse, I want at least the chance of finding the player I lose the finesse to without a fourth heart to lead. Once we win the K♦, there is nothing really to do but to test the diamonds, which break, so cash four tricks, run the clubs, then cash the ace of spades and see if something good happens. It won't but nine tricks are there. There's a way for ten: win the second heart after West wins the A♥ at trick one and returns the Q♥, not the third. Run four diamonds and then three clubs ending in the North hand, then lead the third heart. East can win and cash a fourth heart but is now forced to lead away from the K♠!

RESULT: 3NTn=


Board #8  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:20857
Freakness:0000
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:9922
Spades:101022
Hearts:9944
Diamonds:101022
Clubs:9944

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

2NTn;3♣s;3♦n;3NTs;End x 50

J♥ x 48
5♠ x 2

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Board North E-W vul
North dealer
9 T98532
52
West 742 East
J 63 KQ
QJT873 K94
S: McB AQJ83
KJ9872 A764 AQ5
August 12, 2017 A6 Matchpoint Pairs
KT965
T4
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
West North East S: McB Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- Pass 2NT Pass 6♥e-1 100 28 55
3♦* Pass 3♥ Pass 6♥e= 430 14 13
4♣ Pass 6♥ Dble 6♥Xe-1 200 6 90
end 6NTe-4 400 2 99
6♥*e-1 200 1 90

Of course I was worried that there would be a spade void in the West hand. But it seemed a longshot and if this auction was repeated at other tables I wouldn't be alone in doubling. The ace of spades opening lead held and plus 200 was a good score.

RESULT: 6♥*e-1


Board #9  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:011218
Freakness:43211
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:2288
Spades:6666
Hearts:111111
Diamonds:6677
Clubs:111111

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

2NTe;3♦w;3♥e;4♣w;6♥e;End x 38
2NTe;3♦w;3♥e;4♣w;6♥e;Dbl-s x 6
2NTe;3♦w;3♥e;4♣w;4♥e;4NTw x 4
2NTe;3♦w;3♥e;4♣w;6NTe;End x 2

A♠ x 32
T♣ x 14
4♠ x 2
A♥ x 2

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Board North Both vul
East dealer
10 AK54
KT6
West KQT76 East
T987 5 QJ2
QJ87 A32
92 S: McB 85
K42 63 AJT87
August 12, 2017 954 Matchpoint Pairs
AJ43
Q963
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
West North East S: McB Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- - 1♣ Pass 2♦s+2 130 42 51
1♥ Dble Pass 2♦ 2♦s+1 110 4 3
end 2♦s+3 150 2 98
3♦s+1 130 1 51
3♦s+2 150 1 98
2♦s+2 130 1 51

Not much to this one, a takeout double, a response, a quick end to the auction, and a simple cross-ruff hand. A club to the ace is led and back comes the Q♠. I win and foresee ruffing three clubs in dummy and two spades in hand. This means I can safely pull two trumps, and they split 2-2 so it is clear sailing. The K♣ falls on the second club ruff so I can park a heart loser on the Q♣, losing only two hearts and the ace of clubs.

RESULT: 2♦s+2


Board #10  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:157126
Freakness:4121
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:7755
Spades:7766
Hearts:7766
Diamonds:101033
Clubs:6677

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♣e;1♥w;Dbl-n;2♦s;End x 48
1♣e;1♥w;Dbl-n;2♦s;3♦n;End x 2

9♦ x 13
T♠ x 12
2♣ x 11
2♦ x 9
Q♥ x 5

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Board North None vul
South dealer
11 8654
A53
W: McB J874 East
KJT K8 AQ972
KJ82 Q76
AQT South 6
AT4 3 Q632
August 12, 2017 T94 Matchpoint Pairs
K9532
J975
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- - - Pass 3NTw+3 490 25 24
1♣ Pass 1♠ Pass 3NTw+2 460 22 71
2NT Pass 3♦* Pass 4♠e+1 450 3 96
4♠ end 4♠e= 420 1 100

When you have 28-31 points, 3NT is usually the place to play in matchpoints, and overtricks are important. It's late at night when I play this one and I miss this and choose to play 4♠, where I manage only ten tricks for a dead zero. Break time!

RESULT: 4♠e=


Board #11  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:841018
Freakness:1440
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:221111
Spades:221111
Hearts:111111
Diamonds:6677
Clubs:3399

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♣w;1♠e;2NTw;3NTe;End x 47
1♣w;1♠e;2NTw;4♠e;End x 3

4♦ x 42
3♥ x 5
T♥ x 2
3♦ x 1

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Board North N-S vul
West dealer
12 AJ75
A8
W: McB QJ2 East
KQ9843 K764
KQJ963 42
7 South KT9864
T62 AQ953
August 12, 2017 T75 Matchpoint Pairs
A53
JT82
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
1♠ 1NT Dble Pass 4♥w-2 100 17 73
3♥ Pass 3NT Dble 4♥w= 420 13 22
4♥ Pass Pass Dble 4♥w-1 50 9 44
end 4♥Xw= 590 4 3
4♥Xw-2 300 4 97
4♥Xw-1 100 2 73
4♥w+1 450 1 8
4♥*w-1 100 1 73

Well, it looks like with ten deals left to play we have found the deal of the day. The first question is what to open with West's 6-6 hand. I think 1♠ is best; if you open 1♥ and rebid spades, partner will need to go up a level to prefer your original suit. The auction now takes an unexpected turn, with a 1NT overcall and a penalty double by partner. Looking at all four hands, we can see that this would be a difficult contract, but that North should come to two diamonds, two clubs, and two aces for down one. There is no bridge player in the world, man or machine, that would accept 200 with a 6-6 hand opposite strength by partner. The question is how many hearts to bid now. 4♥, the computers choice, gives up almost any shot at slam, and partner doesn't need much: two aces and three-card support for either suit should be enough. 2♥ is not forcing so not a reasonable option. I opt for 3♥, and partner bids 3NT. This hint of a misfit is enough for South to double when 4♥ is passed around to him. Maybe an immediate 4♥ would have escaped being doubled. North picks a good lead, the Q♦, and I'm in some trouble. If I cover, South wins and I still have a diamond loser. If I duck, North's next move is obvious, since I have shown at least eleven cards in the majors: ace and another heart, hoping to lock me in my hand. I cover and South wins and returns a second diamond. If I ruff, I might make this: diamond ruff, spade ruff, diamond ruff hoping for a 3-3 split, spade ruff, club ruff, and now begin pulling trumps with the king of hearts. They get a diamond, a trump, and a spade, and I'm home. But if diamonds don't break, someone could ruff in with the ace of hearts and lead a second heart before I have ruffed two spades in dummy, which likely leads to two down. If I duck at trick two, even if they remove dummy's trumps, I should be OK for at least nine tricks even if diamonds are 4-2: the defenders will have to break spades, limiting me to one loser in the suit, or play clubs or diamonds, putting me in dummy where a bunch of winners are set up. I opt for the play which assures nine tricks minimum, and sadly diamonds are 3-3, so I had a shot at making it. There is a little bit of company at -100 so I don't get a complete zero. A significant number of tables saw a club lead, making the hand easy: win in dummy and pitch a diamond, lose two spades and a heart. Sometimes you just need a little luck...

RESULT: 4♥*w-1


Board #12  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:155911
Freakness:10911
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:6677
Spades:5588
Hearts:3388
Diamonds:5488
Clubs:7666

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♠w;1NTn;Dbl-e;4♥w;End x 40
1♠w;1NTn;Dbl-e;4♥w;Dbl-s;End x 10

Q♦ x 29
4♣ x 16
A♥ x 3
8♥ x 2

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Board North Both vul
North dealer
13 92
J63
W: McB KJ93 East
Q 8543 AK76
A72 QT854
862 South AT7
AKJ976 JT8543 T
August 12, 2017 K9 Matchpoint Pairs
Q54
Q2
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- Pass 1♥ Pass 4♥e+2 680 21 27
2♣ Pass 2♥ Pass 4♥e+1 650 13 63
3♠+ Pass 4♦ Pass 4♥e= 620 6 83
6♥ end 6♥e-1 100 5 95
6♥e= 430 2 2
4♥e-1 100 1 95
5♥e= 650 1 63
5♥e+1 680 1 27
6♥e= 430 1 2

Rixi Marcus, a prominent figure in the early days of bridge in Europe, had a maxim which featured in all her writings: "bid boldly, play safe." She'd have approved of this deal. Partner rebids hearts and I decide to upgrade slightly: theoretically the jump to 3♠ shows first-round control. When partner promises a diamond control, I bid boldly, smashing into the heart slam with as much force as the invasion of Austria by Hitler's forces in 1938, an event which forced Rixi Marcus, already a bridge celebrity in Vienna, to play safe and bolt to England, where she would remain for the rest of her life. In 6♥ I have to play safe! Partner has for some reason rebid a five-card suit and the trump suit is a key weakness which I must find a way to play for one loser. (Once again the computer has fled the table to leave me to switch seats and declare the slam I have launched into.) The spade lead is won in dummy and I decide to play ace and another trump and try to guess the position. My clue comes when North plays the six of trumps on the ace, then plays the three on the next trick. A high-low in trumps usually indicates three trumps with the possibility of a ruff. With K63 North would not be looking for a ruff with a natural trump trick. And if North is trying to fool me with 63 doubleton, it matters not since no play will succeed. I play the ten and South wins the king. Back comes a spade and I breathe a little easier when North follows. We're not quite done yet, since the Q♥ is still out there and I cannot draw it until I am sure I have enough tricks and entries to the West hand. I lead the ten of clubs and South plays the queen. I am fairly sure that North has the Q♥, so if the Q♣ is singleton, I should be able to lead clubs through North until he ruffs in, overruffing and returning to dummy with a spade ruff. This works and I bring home a very nice score. I wonder what Rixi would do at this stage. She was known to be a spirited post-mortem expert, and would find serious fault in East's 2♥ rebid. After a 2/1 call (even if the 2/1 bid is not forcing to game as it is in modern systems), a 2♠ rebid is not a reverse and must be the better call. We won't get to slam, but the reward is still good for making twelve tricks.

RESULT: 6♥e=


Board #13  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:581314
Freakness:1445
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:111111
Spades:5588
Hearts:111212
Diamonds:4499
Clubs:111111

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♥e;2NTw;3♣e;4♥w;End x 41
1♥e;2NTw;3♣e;4♥w;4NTe;5♥w x 9

J♠ x 47
4♦ x 2
5♠ x 1

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Board North None vul
East dealer
14 T8
K854
West A5 East
K95 KQT76 AJ7432
3 AQ97
874 S: McB 63
AJ8532 Q6 4
August 12, 2017 JT62 Matchpoint Pairs
KQJT92
9
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
West North East S: McB Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- - 1♠ 2♦ 4♠e= 420 32 32
3♦+ Pass 4♠ end 4♠e-1 50 18 83
4♠e= 420 1 32

The 3♦ call is a conventional raise of spades showing a bit more than a raise to 2♠. (Cuebids are not alertable in the ACBL unless their meaning is deemed highly unusual or unexpected; using cuebids to increase the number of ways to raise partner's suit is quite common.) My 2♦ overcal does lose the heart suit, but as you can see from the distribution, that is a good thing! With a nine card spade fit, East should have no trouble making this by simply using the well-known maxim and playing for a 2-2 trump split, losing two diamonds and a heart. In our case the computer won the club switch at trick three with the ace and tried to ruff a club: overruffed by South, but now declarer can ruff two hearts in dummy before pulling the last trump. 18 computers found a way to go down, which is a frustrating mystery.

RESULT: 4♠e=


Board #14  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:129118
Freakness:3665
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:4477
Spades:331010
Hearts:7755
Diamonds:6666
Clubs:5588

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♠e;2♦s;3♦w;4♠e;End x 50

K♦ x 40
9♣ x 9
J♥ x 1

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Board North N-S vul
South dealer
15 KQT3
A4
W: McB Q9 East
A742 QJ865 J5
KJT9853
83 South AKJ52
986 K97432
August 12, 2017 Q762 Matchpoint Pairs
T764
AT
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- - - Pass 3♥w-1 50 32 67
1♥ Pass 2♣ Pass 3♥w= 140 16 19
2♥ Pass 3♣ Pass 3♥w+1 170 2 1
3♥ Pass 4♣ Pass 5♣*e-4 800 1 100
4♥ Pass 5♣ Pass
Pass Dble end

After the type of auction that sends married couples to their divorce lawyers, we get the predictable result. My 1♥ opener, hoping for a raise or a 1♠ response, may have been an overbid, but bidding that anemic club suit four times is utterly inane especially when the computer player gets to walk away and make me play it! Better to start with a 2♦ response and then bid clubs later. We might get out in 3♦ and score at least some matchpoints. East's decision to bid on over 3♥, when the writing was on the wall that this was downtown Misfit City, was the prime cause of this disaster. Sometimes you just have to park the car and hope the ticket you get will be affordable.

RESULT: 5♣*e-4


Board #15  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:146128
Freakness:3199
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:7766
Spades:5577
Hearts:4488
Diamonds:4488
Clubs:6677

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♣n;1♦e;1♥s;3♥w;End x 50

Q♣ x 31
K♠ x 19

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Board North E-W vul
West dealer
16 Q
KJ9853
West K98 East
K954 K42 A763
A4 Q72
75432 S: McB JT
T5 JT82 Q873
August 12, 2017 T6 Matchpoint Pairs
AQ6
AJ96
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
West North East S: McB Result NS EW Freq. NS%
Pass 1♥ Pass 1♠ 4♥n= 420 18 76
Pass 2♥ Pass 4♥ 3NTs= 400 18 39
end 4♥n-1 50 11 10
3NTs+2 460 2 99
4♥n+1 450 1 96
4♥n= 420 1 76

North rebids 2♥ showing six or more hearts but no extra strength. What's the best rebid for South? 3NT? 4♥? Some forcing call to elicit more info? Let's eliminate that last one; if there is a game here it may be dependant on the opening lead, so the less information we give the opponents, the better, so the choice is between 3NT and 4♥. Mentees will tend to choose 4♥ so that their mentors can play it, but what is the best choice in theory. Well, JACK can answer this question, by dealing the remaining 39 cards repeatedly until it finds a distribution that agrees with the auction so far (six or more hearts and about 12-15 points in North, no hand worth competing with in West or East), then test both contracts. 1000 random hands matching the auction so far say that 3NT will score +366 on average (400 for making, -50 a trick for going down), while 4♥ scores +387 on average. Fairly close and when I ran the simulation nine more times (10,000 total random hands) 4♥ was +366.4, 3NT was ++357.3. I would guess that 3NT would be the choice if we had the K♠ and the Q♣ instead of the two jacks, since this would put us close to that 28-30 range where 3NT usually is better. The play in 4♥ is fairly straightforward, losing two trumps and a spade, but when West wins the A♥ and switches to a spade to East's ace, we can later take a ruffing finesse against West's K♠, allowing us to pitch a club from the North hand, making the club finesse unnecessary. (It always seems to be a working finesse when I find a way to avoid taking it...)

RESULT: 4♥n=


Board #16  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:121297
Freakness:5113
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:9944
Spades:7755
Hearts:101033
Diamonds:8855
Clubs:9944

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♥n;1♠s;2♥n;4♥s;End x 30
1♥n;1♠s;2♥n;3NTs;End x 20

5♦ x 20
J♦ x 19
3♣ x 11

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Board North None vul
North dealer
17 Q9
K63
W: McB T9832 East
J763 T83 A84
AJ84 T952
K South QJ76
AKQ6 KT52 J5
August 12, 2017 Q7 Matchpoint Pairs
A54
9742
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- Pass Pass Pass 4♥w= 420 38 58
1♣ Pass 1♦ Pass 4♥w= 420 1 58
1♥ Pass 2♥ Pass 4♥w+1 450 9 10
4♥ end 3♥w= 140 2 99
4♥w+2 480 1 0

Partner's 1♦ response and his raise to 2♥ makes my hand much better and I am confident in the heart game. The Q♠ opening lead means South has the king and I can play the sut for one loser, but is there another danger? The Q♠ cannot be singleton, South would likely open almost any hand in third seat with any hand containing ♠KT952, but North may have Qx♠ and be looking for a ruff. I win the ace and lead the ten of trumps; South covers with the queen and I win in hand. If I continue with another trump it may well be won by North and a spade to South's king will be followed by a spade ruff. Time for plan B: I play four rounds of clubs, pitching two spades from dummy! North ruffs the fourth round, but can no longer get a spade ruff. I lose a club ruff, the K♥, and the ace of diamonds. This seems like a good escape, but somehow the field contains a fair number of tables making overtricks. What else is new...

RESULT: 4Hw=


Board #17  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:59818
Freakness:2113
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:33910
Spades:4499
Hearts:221010
Diamonds:5588
Clubs:3399

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♣w;1♦e;1♥w;2♥e;4♥w;End x 42
1♣w;1♦e;1♥w;2♥e;3♥w;4♥e x 6
1♣w;1♦e;1♥w;2♥e;3♥w;End x 2

Q♠ x 42
T♦ x 8

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Board North N-S vul
East dealer
18 QJ942
KJ87
W: McB AKT4 East
AKT5 6
Q A6532
7653 South 82
KQJ5 873 A8642
August 12, 2017 T94 Matchpoint Pairs
QJ9
T973
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- - Pass Pass 5♣e= 400 32 31
1♣ 1♠ Dble Pass 5♣e-1 50 15 86
1NT 2♦ 3♣ end 1NTw+1 120 3 68
3♣w+2 150 1 64

I'm out on a limb here, having opened 1♣ while all of the computers were opening 1♦ on that anemic suit. Partner's negative double is a bit strange and if his intent is to show a very good raise, it is lost on me because his double should show hearts and diamonds, nether of which are helpful. I park it in 3♣ and take a below average score, since 5♣ makes two times out of three: the defenders must grab two diamonds and then wait for an overruff.

RESULT: 3Cw+2


Board #18  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:143815
Freakness:6063
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:5588
Spades:8855
Hearts:6667
Diamonds:6666
Clubs:221010

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♦w;1♠n;Dbl-e;1NTw;2♣e;2♠w x 42
1♦w;1♠n;Dbl-e;1NTw;2♣e;5♣w x 5
1♦w;1♠n;Dbl-e;1NTw;End x 3

3♠ x 32
Q♦ x 13
Q♠ x 3
T♥ x 2

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Board North E-W vul
South dealer
19 7654
J2
W: McB K63 East
Q82 J432 A9
A4 KQ93
A9 South 87542
AK9876 KJT3 T5
August 12, 2017 T8765 Matchpoint Pairs
QJT
Q
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- - - Pass 3NTw+2 660 49 48
1♣ Pass 1♦ Pass 3NTw+1 630 1 98
2NT Pass 3♥ Pass 3NTw= 600 1 100
3NT end

This zero looks like a teachable moment, and is a mistake I have been making too often in the few chances I get to play, so let's go through it and see if you catch it. The West hand can be opened 1NT, but it is an awfully strong 17, and there is a danger that partner might pass 1NT with useful hands in the 5-7 point range, so I open 1♣ and rebid 2NT, showing 18-19, which is more in keeping with the true value of the hand. We get to 3NT anyhow and the opening lead is the 6♠. By ducking this I ensure two stoppers in spades, which should be enough to establish the clubs, so I duck and South wins the K♠. It seems logical, but my analysis crashes when South switches to the Q♦. Lesson: don't duck the opening lead if there is a chance they may find a more lethal suit to lead. The diamond isn't lethal, I still make 3NT, but it may as well be. By simply taking the A♠ at trick one, and running the T♣, my second spade stopper is protected if the finesse loses. When South plays the Q♣, I win in hand, play the ace of hearts and another to dummy, then finesse again in clubs. North wins but cannot hurt me, and ten tricks or more and almost certain.

RESULT: 3NTw=


Board #19  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:59917
Freakness:1434
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:221010
Spades:5577
Hearts:4488
Diamonds:331010
Clubs:221111

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♣w;1♦e;Dbl-s;3NTw;End x 46
1♣w;1♦e;3NTw;End x 4

6♠ x 49
J♥ x 1

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Board North Both vul
West dealer
20 QT42
AJ742
W: McB 3 East
A763 Q54 J95
Q3 T96
AQ South 8654
KT962 K8 A73
August 12, 2017 K85 Matchpoint Pairs
KJT972
J8
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
W: McB North East South Result NS EW Freq. NS%
1NT Pass Pass 2♦ 2♥n+1 140 48 50
end 2♠w-3 300 1 100
3♥n= 140 1 50
2♦s= 90 1 0

Finally, a decision that differs from the computers that gains! I choose 1NT as my opening bid and this prevents North-South from finding their heart fit. We take our five obvious tricks and all the matchpoints!

RESULT: 2Ds=


Board #20  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:911515
Freakness:4403
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:6666
Spades:7766
Hearts:8844
Diamonds:8855
Clubs:5588

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♣w;1♥n;2♣s;2♥n;End x 48
1♣w;1♥n;2♣s;2♥n;3♦s;3♥n x 1
1♣w;1♥n;2♣s;2♥n;2♠w;End x 1

5♠ x 31
6♦ x 18
2♠ x 1

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Board North N-S vul
North dealer
21 A5
A854
West AK975 East
K84 K8 QJ96
K932 T6
Q86 S: McB 432
Q53 T732 T964
August 12, 2017 QJ7 Matchpoint Pairs
JT
AJ72
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
West North East S: McB Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- 1♦ Pass 1♠ 3NTs+3 690 33 68
Pass 2♥+ Pass 3♣* 3NTs+2 660 11 23
Pass 3NT+ end 3NTs+1 630 3 7
3NTn+2 660 1 23
3NTs-1 100 1 0
4♥n= 620 1 2
3NTn+1 630 1 7

Another lost opportunity here. Let's discuss the bidding first. Reverses are difficult concepts for many newer players. The idea is that whenever opener rebids a suit higher than his opening bid suit (after responder bids his own suit at the one level), it shows two things: 1) about an ace more than a minimum opening bid, because you may find yourself at the three level if partner has to prefer the first suit with a minimum, and 2) more (not equal) cards in the first-bid suit than the second (with 5-5 you would begin with the higher suit and jump shift with extra strength). So the 2♥ call shows about 17+, a heart suit, and a longer diamond suit. I continue with the 3♣ fourth-suit forcing call so that partner can declare notrump with the strong hand concealed, and partner converts to 3NT and leaves me to play it. This turns out to be a mistake since I waste little time in botching things up. The T♣ is led and I cover with the jack and capture West's queen with the king. The 8♣ is the obvious return but I miss it, instead opting for a small diamond, which might have been good if the diamond finesse failed, but when it makes I have given up on multiple overtricks and the result is a bad score. These computers are tough, tough opponents. (Or maybe I'm just wilting in the heat...)

RESULT: 3NTn+1


Board #21  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:189310
Freakness:3110
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:101022
Spades:101033
Hearts:101022
Diamonds:111111
Clubs:101033

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♦n;1♠s;2♥n;3NTs;End x 48
1♦n;1♠s;2♥n;3♣s;3NTn;End x 1
1♦n;1♠s;2♥n;3♣s;3NTn;4♥s x 1

3♣ x 33
4♠ x 10
2♥ x 4
T♣ x 1
8♠ x 1
Q♠ x 1

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Board North E-W vul
East dealer
22 AKJ7
KQ63
West J76 East
T A5 65
T974 J85
AKT S: McB 983
J7632 Q98432 KQT94
August 12, 2017 A2 Matchpoint Pairs
Q542
8
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A Sample Auction: What The Computers Did:
West North East S: McB Result NS EW Freq. NS%
- - Pass Pass 6♠s-1 50 48 48
Pass 1♦ Pass 1♠ 4♠s= 420 1 100
Pass 4♠ Pass 4NT 6♠-1 1 1 98
Pass 5♥ Pass 6♠
end

Most of the computers chose to go on over North's 19+ game raise. But nobody found the best solution: instead of Blackwood and a guess, I should have tried a 5♣ cuebid. This should show a first round control in clubs but we're fibbing a bit here because our real agenda is to see if partner can cuebid diamonds. (Yes, I know partner opened diamonds, but as we discovered, this is not the same as being able to cuebid a control in diamonds....) When partner continues with 5♠, we pass and take all the matchpoints!

RESULT: 6♠-1


Board #22  NorthSouth East  West 
Highcard Pts.:18868
Freakness:1624
Tricks Available In:
Notrump:101022
Spades:111122
Hearts:9933
Diamonds:101022
Clubs:6677

Six-Packs
(First 6 calls)

Opening
Leads

1♦n;1♠s;4♠n;4NTs;5♥n;6♠s x 48
1♦n;1♠s;4♠n;End x 1

A♦ x 48
3♣ x 1

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Hope you've had as much fun as I did playing these, even though it was a bit frustrating against those know-it-all computers. It's looking like the final Mentor-Mentee game of the year in October may be back at the VBC, since our White Rock location may not be available. We had such a fine turnout in April that I'm sure we'll continue to try to hold every second one south of the Fraser! Watch the Unit 430 website at www.vancouverbridge.com for details!
 
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