Three hands from Gryphons II -- May 26, 2001
        Jim Plank, with commentary by Kevin Wilson

I wrote a little program to show the averages and standard
deviations for each board, given the hand records on the
web.  From these, the top three in standard deviation were
boards 16, 26, and 21.

Board 16 is a hoot.  Fun decisions at every seat.

I'm interested in hearing Kevin's comments, because I just
got waxed in a pair game in Richmond where my decisions on
competitive bidding were wrong more than they were

Board: 16   Dealer: W    Vul: E-W

Start with the dealer:

S K8
H T742
C KJT9843

I'm a 3C bidder myself.  I imagine some will be deterred by
either the vulnerability or the four card heart suit, but I
like getting my pre-emptive bids in when I can.  If partner
has a moose, we may still find our hearts.

    Kevin: I bid 3C at the table.  I filled in this week so
           I played all the hands.  Sure, I wish I didn't
           have 4 hearts but we can't have everything and
           I'm vulnerable in 1st chair so I should have a
           decent suit and hand.

Next is the north hand:

         S QJ97654
         D 9873
         C A7

I'm a passer here.  If I bid spades, partner will think I
have a whole lot more and we'll get too high.

     Kevin: This was the discussion after the hand was
            over.  I think your analysis is right on....
            and its just what happened at my table.  With
            this hand I SERIOUSLY doubt that the auction
            will end without my getting another turn.  To
            me, this is just what I have: a pass now and
            then a 4S bid later.  Even if partner only bids
            3H, then my next bid would be 4S. I think after
            a double by pard, I would risk 6S.

Now east:
                S T32
                H 9653
                D KT5
                C Q52

Were we white on red, I'd bid 5C without a second thought.
But we're not, so I'm passing.

     Kevin: Yuck.  Raising my preempt on 4-3-3-3.... no
            thanks.  We've taken up 2 full levels of space
            without them telling each other anything.  Just
            let my preempt do its work.  I might only have
            a 6 card suit and they certainly haven't found
            a guaranteed nine card fit.  We might be
            looking at a 17 trick hand (Using the law of
            total tricks) or more likely 18 where both
            sides have 9 tricks.  In my opinion, this is
            not a hand to to bid 5C.

And now the really fun hand -- south:

         S A
         H AKQJ8
         D AQJ642
         C 6

Before thinking further, does your partnership have
agreements over 3C that can handle hands like this?  I'm
sure Mike and Brooks do, and that the BigBen system will,
of course, guide you once again to the optimal contract,
but what about the rest of us?  Although my bidding system
with Suzy and Brad runs 20 pages, we don't have monster
two-suiters over preempts covered...

This hand probably has two losers opposite a broke partner,
and I'm going to bid a slam.  So I would bid 5N and hope
that partner figures it out.  In my opinion, partner
should:  If I had the majors, I'd cue bid clubs.  If I had a
single-suited hand, I'd just bid the slam myself, or I'd
double and then bid a suit.  So I have to have a two-suited
hand with diamonds.

    Kevin: Your judgement certainly has its peaks and
           valleys Jim.  I think 5NT is very intelligent
           and I think partner will get you to the correct
           spot after you bid it.

           P.S. I thought we played Roman Jumps... I know
                you play them over weak two's... A jump
                into a minor shows that minor and a major -- 
                usually both suits are known because of the
                weak 2 bid.  This hand warrants a 5NT bid,
                but if you were weaker isn't that a

I can't say I thought of it -- would 4d show diamonds and a major?
Seems reasonable, but I'd probably have a harder time figuring
that one out as north than 5N....

Back to north:

         S QJ97654
         D 9873
         C A7

After 3c-p-p-5n-p, I think 6d is right.  It should be pretty
clear that partner has diamonds and hearts, and my hand is
going to be pretty helpful in diamonds.   I guess 6S may
rate to work as well, but I'd bid 6d.   All four hands:

         S QJ97654
         D 9873
         C A7

S K8            S T32
H T742          H 9653
D               D KT5
C KJT9843       C Q52

         S A
         H AKQJ8
         D AQJ642
         C 6

6d, 6h and 6s are all icy here.  6n goes down on a club
lead, since there are not enough entries to take the
double-finesse in diamonds.

I think 6d is the best contract though, since it has the
advantage of being cold opposite most distributions.  6H is
well below 50%, and will go down if you try a diamond hook
early.  6S is cold against most distributions (only KTxx of
spades will get you).

As it turns out, scores were everywhere:

1:  +1100 -- it appears someone bid 5c and got whacked by Mildred
             and Louise.  Ouch.

2:   +980 -- 6H or 6S.  I don't know.

1:   +940 -- I would have gotten below average for my troubles.

2:   -100 -- people in 6H?  I guess.

Weird hand.

    Kevin: Yes, ouch to bidding 5C red vs.white. 
           A much deserved zero.

Board: 26   Dealer: E    Vul: Both

Here's another hand where partnership understandings can
help or hurt, depending on what you do with them:

S J4
H QT973
D A65

You are west and partner opens 1n.  You transfer.  That's
all straightforward.  If you don't play super-accepts, then
this one is easy.  Partner accepts, you bid 3n, and partner
bids 4h.  You suspect there may be a slam somewhere, but
you pass uneasily.

Suppose you play super-accepts, and partner super-accepts,
showing at least 4 hearts, and better than a minimum.  Now
what?  Given my tendency toward slam-itis, I may trot out a
key-card bid here, and blast if we have four of five.  The
argument against that is my dead doubleton of spades, but
partner may have the king to overcome that.....

But think about it more.  Suppose partner has three keys.
If they don't include the AS, then partner needs the KS.
That's 14 points (AC, AH, KH, KS).  Even if partner has the
KD, is 6H a likely proposition?  Maybe partner has
AKQx,KJxx,xx,Axx.  That's still down on a diamond lead.
How about Kx,AKxxx,Kx,Axxx.  Ok.  That's making on the
spade hook or if clubs are 3-3.  Above 50%.  But barely.

It appears that the best action, even after the
super-accept, is to stop in game.  If you had more shape,
then it's different, but you may not have enough sources of
tricks to make six, even with a nine or ten card fit.

I called Suzy and gave her the hand with no other
explanation, and were she sitting west, our sequence would
have been:

  1N    2D
  3C    3D
  3H    4D
  4H     P

     3C is a super-accept, showing maximal values (yes,
        a lie here, but I do have 5 trumps) and a doubleton
     3D says ``great pard.  Bid hearts please.''
     3H says ``ok''
     4D is a cue-bid, showing some slam interest, but no
        spade or club control.
     4H says that I have overbid enough already.  Partner
        can go on if she wants.
     P  Nope.

The hands:

         S T82
         D QJT84
         C 76543

S J4            S K96
H QT973         H AJ652
D A65           D K93
C KQ9           C AT

         S AQ753
         H K84
         D 72
         C J82

4H makes 4 unless the defense panics.  I probably would have been in
a rash 5H down one.  The scores:

   1: +650 -- Again, Mildred and Louise grab a top, I'm
              guessing when south panics, or perhaps gets
              endplayed, although that really shouldn't
              happen.  Well done.

   2: +620 -- 4H+4 -- the par result

   2: -200 -- Two pairs bid the slam and went down two, or got
              whacked in five and went down one.  Hard to
              imagine that happening on a key-card auction,
              but so it goes....

     Kevin: I transferred, pard super-accepted with 3H and
            I bid a quiet 4H. This is one of those hands
            that you lose on by trying for too much.  Both
            important cards are off-side, so not even
            playing the HA and then stripping the side
            suits for the endplay works... too bad.

The last swinging board was board 21:
Board: 21   Dealer: N    Vul: N-S

Now the fun seat is west:

S AQ86
H A75
C AKT963

You're looking forward to opening this 1C, when partner
gets in the way with 1D.  Pass to you, and I think
regardless of whether you are playing two over one, you
should bid 2C.  I feel strongly that this bid should not
deny a four-card major.  Partner is not reversing with 2H
or 2S, and you have much more effectively shown your
values and shape.

     Kevin:  I had the same opening by partner and I bid 2C.

Partner bids 2h.  Figures.  Ok.  Now we need to
differentiate between standard american and two-over-one.
Both auctions should continue with 2s, but with standard
american, this is artificial; with two-over-one, it should
be natural, but might be a lie if we have no better bid.
In either case, partner raises to 3s, and now you know
partner is 4441 or maybe 4432 or 4450.  Now what?

Your guess is as good as mine.  If partner has the KQ of
hearts, the queen of clubs and the jack of spades, we're
making this slam most likely.  Or the ace of diamonds
instead of the queen of hearts.  I think 6S is about as
scientific as you're getting, but if you're playing 2/1,
you might trot out a 5d bid as exclusion key card just so
that you can have some peace of mind if partner shows one
key card.  If you're playing standard american, partner may
pass 5d, since 2s may have been artificial, so that's
probably not the best bid.

     Kevin: 6S seems pretty reasonable to me.  I can't
            think of many hands that partner would bid 3S
            without 4 card trump support so it seems like
            the value bid.  I'm a little worried we might
            be missing 7 if partner has the CQ.

So now you're in 6S.  LHO leads the AD and here are your hands:

S AQ86          S KT72
H A75           H KQT8
D               D QJ6
C AKT963        C J5

You ruff and cash the AS: three, two, jack!  Hmmmm.
Now what?

Assume that south isn't lying, and had a stiff jack.  I
think that the best play is to play the ace of clubs and a
low club.

If south wins, you can work any return, draw trumps and run
your clubs.  If north ruffs, you can now ruff the diamond
return, cash the DQ, ruff a club, draw trumps and cross to
the AH and claim.  If north wins, you again have control of
the hand.  I don't think I would have found it at the
table, but several similar lines (working on clubs before
drawing three rounds of trumps) do work with the given

         S 9543
         H J
         D AK92
         C Q842

S AQ86          S KT72
H A75           H KQT8
D               D QJ6
C AKT963        C J5

         S J
         H 96432
         D T87543
         C 7

Note that if you take an early trump with the east hand,
draw too many trumps, or burn an early heart card to take
the club hook, you will go down -- a touchy hand.

     Kevin: I think you should make it, but I agree that
            you have to play it carefully.

The scores:

   1: +980 -- Ted and Patricia bid it and wrapped it!
   1: +420 -- 4S+4, or maybe 5C+6.
   1: +200 -- I guess if east does not open that hand, south
              may well preempt.  Hmmm..
   1: +150 -- Ditto
   1:  -50 -- In the slam and down.

In case you care, here are the boards, their average
scores, and their standard deviations, ordered from
greatest standard deviation down to least:

Board AvgScore   Stddev

   16   564.00   544.71
   26  -298.00   406.76
   21  -340.00   353.21
   20  -180.00   299.33
   22  -302.00   289.37
   19   -94.00   283.80
   23  -146.00   263.18
    7   266.00   254.21
    8   214.00   236.61
   25   264.00   228.79
   24   -30.00   213.54
   12   -98.00   189.25
   17   -60.00   185.04
   13   526.00   178.50
    2   160.00   171.46
    5  -128.00   151.71
   18    90.00   128.22
   11     4.00   121.75
    6    62.00   113.91
    1    52.00    84.95
    9   -54.00    80.40
   10  -154.00    73.92
   27    52.00    73.59
   14   -78.00    64.93
    3   176.00    22.45
   15  1452.00    14.70
    4   624.00    12.00

     Kevin: Interesting statistics.  Who would have thought
            we have 2 hands with a deviation of under 15.
            I'd agree that those are not the hands to
            discuss.  Hope to see everybody on the 9th when
            the mini-lesson topic will be Balancing (part #1).