Life Masters Pairs '95 Problems

I seem to have very good luck with pickup partners. Five minutes before the Life Master Pairs in San Diego, I got fixed up with someone I'd never met before and we ended up 19th. We were in the event until the very end; we sat 13th going into the last session and could have won if we got all our decisions right. Since this was a new partnership, the methods for all these decisions are 2/1 100% game forcing, 15-17 notrumps, 1M-3m are Bergen raises, but everything else is a strong jump shift. Most modern treatments, but very few express discussions. Leads are Parity vs. suits (highish from even, lowest from odd), 4th best from an honor vs. NT (10xxx or better), standard honor leads (but A from AK except the normal exceptions) and signals.

After 5 sessions, you find that partner is sound and imaginative, but prone to occasssional flights of fancy. He found this wonderful sequence. He held  S:Q10xxx H:--- D:J10xx C:Q10xx. White on red, LHO opened 1H:. I bid 3H:, asking for a stop and showing a solid suit. His RHO passed and he bid 3NT in tempo. LHO bid 4C:, I passed, RHO bid 4H: and he bid 4NT! LHO bid 5H: and I doubled, so he pulled to 6D:. LHO continued to 6H:, I passed this time and he bid 7D:, got doubled and went down one for a near top. 6H: is cold. If they lead the wrong ace, we make 7D:. Nicely done, pard.

The final is on a 38 top. The dealership and vulnerability will skip around because we were E/W and because some of the problems are partner's and some are opponent's.

Round 1:
I don't recognize our opponents. The field will be surprisingly soft today; I'm not sure why. On the first board, declarer takes an all-out line and makes an overtrick in a normal 4H: contract. It's not clear if the line is sensible; it risks the contract and has a somewhat lower expectancy than a safer line, but has the merit of working this time. 11 matchpoints.

On the second board, you hold  S:Q3 H:AK876 D:765 C:KQ10. You open 1H:, LHO overcalls 2D: and partner bids 2S:, standard, not game forcing. RHO passes. What do you bid?

I bid 3C:. Partner bid 3H:, I bid 3S: and partner closed proceedings with 4H:. I admit that with his hand, I would have bid more and probably reached the five-level and stopped, finding that we were off the H:Q and an ace. 4H: is enough on the actual hands, but now there's a play problem:

S: AK974
H: J92
D: 9
C: A763
S: Q3
H: AK876
D: 765
C: KQ10

3SPass4HAll Pass

T1: D:A-9-4-6
T2: D:Q-H:2-8-5
What's your plan?

I got this one right for 27+ matchpoints and an average round. Getting it wrong is worth another 11.

Round 2:
We play Deas-Palmer. The first board is a totally flat 3NT making 4, but they inexplicably miss a cold game on the second hand, which makes five. 16+ on the first hand and 30 on the second. Only a half a board above average so far, but things are about to get better.

Round 3:
Vs. the Truscotts. They are playing relay precision (surprise). On the first board, he plays 3NT and goes down one when we defend reasonably and we get 29+. On the second one, this defensive "problem" arises. Dorothy is playing it.

S: A54
H: J1076
D: 1083
C: AJ6
S: 63
H: KQ832
D: K2
C: 5432

Pass3SAll Pass

T1: H:9-6(?)-3-A
T2: S:K-2-4-3
T3: C:Q-K-A-2
T4: C:J-3-9-7
T5: C:6-4-S:T-8
T6: S:7-8-A-6
T7: S:5-H:2-Q-9
T8: H:5-D:9-J-Q
T9: C:5-S:J-C:T-D:3
T10: D:4-6-T-K
T11: ?

I got this right and got 26 only matchpoints for +100. It turns out that the aggressive 2H: was bad, since many others reached game.

Two good scores leave us a full board over average. Not enough yet.

Round 4:
Opponents are Steve Onderwyzer and someone I don't recognize.

You hold  S:A5 H:A6 D:98 C:AKQ10876. Partner opens 1S:. 3C: would be a spade raise and 2C: is game forcing. What is your plan?

On the second board, Steve has to play this trump suit:

Being matchpoints and being in a normal contract, the goal is to play the suit for the most tricks. Things are complicated by the fact that my partner led the trump 2 through the AQ95 at trick one. He has no good reason to do so. What's the right line?

I got the first one right and Steve got the second one wrong. Two tops for us. (34 and 34+.) Things are looking up.

Round 5:
I don't know these guys, either. On the first board, they bid to 3H: on their nine-card fit after we bid 2S: on our 8-carder. No one is vulnerable, but we are booked for down 1 and they can't make 3H:. LTT is off by two, primarily because neither side has the high cards in their long suits. For their getting it wrong we get 31 matchpoints.

On the second hand, you (partner) hold:

 S:9 H:AKQ D:AQ6 C:965432

Favorable, dealer. What do you open and what do you plan to rebid?

We are successful on this hand for 36+. Now we are cruising. Round 6: Vs. Manfield-Woolsey. Kit is on my right. Partner opens 1S: and I put him in game with:

S: KQ4
H: 2
D: AJ653
C: J1032
S: A6532
H: A8765
D: K10
C: 9

South passes and we quickly bid 1S:-2D:; 2H:-2S:; 3H:-4S:. The opening lead is the C:8-x-A-9. H:9 comes back. Plan the play.

Partner made this for an average score. On the next board, I held  S:AKJ108653 H:Q75 D:--- C:Q8. Partner opens a strong notrump as dealer. Your methods are 4-way transfers and "Aces Scientific" but no real discussion. Partner will probably be on the same wavelength. At this point, what's your plan?

I got a top on the board and suddenly things are looking very good. It turns out that we are leading the event now.

Round 7:
Opponents are unknowns. You hold

 S:Q9 H:9643 D:KJ8 C:K1065.

Opponents are silent and the auction begins: 1S:-1NT*; 2H:. What action do you take?

On the second board, you hold

 S:K765 H:AJ D:AQ104 C:QJ8.

You deal and open a strong notrump. Pass, pass, 2H: showing hearts and a minor. You double for takeout and everyone passes. What's your opening lead?

We got each of these wrong. Disaster strikes. 5+ and 0. Our momentum is broken.

Round 8:
We skip two little old ladies and play Grant Baze and a bad client. You hold:

 S:KJ7 H:72 D:J72 C:A9853.

Both white, Grant deals and opens 3H:. Partner doubles and the client bids 4D:. What's your plan?

On the second board, you hold:

 S:107 H:AKJ8642 D:A4 C:A6


We get them both "wrong" and get a 10 and a 20. More missed opportunities. We are fading.

Round 9:
Andy Robson is on my right; Hordis is on my left. First board, you hold  S:J2 H:KQ632 D:K43 C:K64.


On the second board, you hold  S:A10 H:7 D:QJ10743 C:AK104.


Not too many matchpoints are at stake here; averages are pretty much all that's available.

We are probably out of contention for the event now, but we still have a good shot at the top ten. Fortunately, I've never seen any of our remaining opponents before; they look pretty soft.

Round 10:
On the first board, the opponents get to a trivial 6NT and have to play A1043 vs. K9865 for four tricks to make. Declarer safety plays it and blows a trick to a 2-2 split. He gets the 7 he deserves, since this is matchpoints, not IMPs. It's been awhile since he have had a good result.

On the second board, you hold:  S:J98752 H:42 D:3 C:A943. RHO opens a strong notrump and you bid 2S:, spades and a minor, at unfavorable. LHO bids 3NT and it's your lead.

Chip Martel wanders by and asks how we are doing. I say, "up and down, but mostly up" and show him our scorecard. It seems as if we are doing ok at this point; Chip kibitzes the next hand.

Round 11:
You hold  S:QJ8 H:AQ54 D:54 C:QJ63. Your agreement about opening bids is "most 12s, some 10s." I open 1C: and partner bids 2S: strong. Now what?

I get it wrong in a sense and right in a sense. My instinct told me to do the right thing, but I rejected it. Too bad. 11.

Second board I deal and open 2S: on  S:Q98542 H:96 D:KQ8 C:97 at both white. They reach a normal 4H: and need to play S:K10 vs. S:J7 for a trick. Partner did not lead the suit, so declarer ought to get it right, but he played me for the Ace and we get a near top: 35+. We are maybe recovering a little. Good lead, pard.

Round 12:
I pick up  S:Q975 H:K63 D:K73 C:A42 in 2nd chair. My hand is sorted, so when RHO passes, it's obvious that this hand was passed out at the previous table. With four spades, I probably want to open it given the unauthorized information, but our style is "most 12s" and this cannot possibly qualify. I pass and so does everyone else. Partner has a 3244 11-count, so if I open, we shall probably get too high. If I opened 1S:, however, he'll bid 1NT and I can pass for a great score. If I open 1C:, he'll bid 1D: and for us to go plus, I have to pass. Yeah, right. Without unauthorized information, neither option would cross my mind. Shrug. Cheating is too hard.

The pass out is worth 15+.

On the next board, they have a big double fit and stop in 3S:. Partner shifts to the D:9 at trick two from 932 and declarer thinks he's about to suffer an overruff, which promotes a trump trick for my 10932. Unfortunately, declarer then plays hearts (AJ962 vs. Q953) for no losers, picking up partner's K104, to return us to average. Many are in game, so we get a 14 for -140. Rats.

Last round:
We are in 10th place now and first is out of reach, Levin-Wolfson blowing away the field. Two good results can get us up to second, since the pack is very tightly bunched at this point.

I pick up in 2nd with both white  S:Q H:AK1054 D:AKQJ8 C:J7. This is a clear 1H: opener, but I make a very dubious action and open 2C:. LHO overcalls 2S: and partner doubles. We agreed (wow!) that this shows something in spades, but no other aces or kings. What action do you take?

On the second board, we have a major defensive problem. (favorable vul.)

S: A874
H: QJ85
D: 2
C: AJ87
S: J952
H: A103
D: KQ874
C: Q

All Pass

Partner leads the H:7. Declarer plays the 5 from dummy. Plan the defense.

We got everything wrong in this round for a zero and a 4. That dropped us to 19th. Getting both hands right gets us up to 8th. Too bad. It was still a pretty good showing, all things considered. Partner did many very good things. Still, 19th in the LMs with a random partner is a pretty good result for each of us; this turns out to have been partner's first national event ever.

If you get all the decisions right in this set, you can end up winning the event. Miss a few and you might be second. Choke as badly as we did and you might not stay in the top 20. Good luck!


Jeff Goldsmith,, Feb. 12, 1996