Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bridge Blog 557: Hero or villain?

Wednesday partner Celine Murray is never shy about showing her feelings when one of my sacrifice bids blows up. “That’s a zero!” she exclaimed after the first hand of the day this afternoon at the Airport Bridge Club. But was it, I wondered.
She’d opened 1 Diamond and my hand was 6-3-2-2 – six Clubs topped by the Ace-Queen, three Diamonds 10 high, no honors in the doubleton major suits. We’d just reviewed our bidding procedures, so those Diamonds would be her better minor suit, although she might have only three. And probably only two Clubs. As for the majors, if she had five in one of them, she’d bid it. With my doubletons, we wouldn’t have more than six Hearts or six Spades between us.
Still, I didn’t want leave her at 1 Diamond, either, especially if she had a gang of high cards. Nor did I want our opponents – Jean Sullivan and Linda Wynes – to have a chance to bid and discover a game of their own. Plus, we’re both vulnerable, so a bid from me might make them cautious. So 2 Clubs? That’s a stronger hand, at least 10 points. I made the weaker comeback – 1 No Trump – hoping Celine had that gang of high cards and praying the bridge gods wouldn’t let us be fatally exposed in the major suits.
Everybody passed. The 1 No Trump contract was mine. Shudder! Linda led off with the suit Celine bid and, when the dummy came down, I knew the bridge gods were angry. Celine had 12 points, four mediocre Hearts, four good Spades, and just three Diamonds to the Queen. I played low from the board – a move Celine took me to task for the rest of the afternoon because the Queen might have won. Jean came up with the Jack, but the Queen wouldn’t have won. Jean also had the Ace.
Linda had five Diamonds, which she and Jean turned into five tricks, along with four Heart tricks and a Club. Down four vulnerable – minus 400. Well, I reckoned, if they had bid 3 NT and made 10 tricks, we’d be minus 630. But would any of the other North-Souths go for game?
I checked the traveling score sheet at the end of the day and discovered that, no, this wasn’t a zero for us. It wasn’t much better, though, just one game point out of a possible five. Turns out North-South could make 4 Hearts, too, but only one of them bid game.
That was one of four sacrifice bids I took this afternoon and the results were mixed. There was a zero among them – 4 Diamonds doubled, not vulnerable, down four – not better than letting Mike Silverman and Ross Markello make their 3 NT vulnerable contract. But also a couple successes – 4 Hearts,  down two, not vulnerable, against a makeable 3 NT, which was second-best; and another 4 Heart bid that should have gone down only one, but went down two against another 3 NT.
Our final outcome? Just a fraction below 50% (49.42%, to be exact). Happily, a lot of people were right around 50% in this 13-pair game and our score was good for second in the B strat – 1.48 points, half red, half black.  

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