Super Misfit Means WAG

By BBOer roman99 (Roman L. Weil)

In my day job, WAG refers to a version of Wild Guess. I am too new at BBO to know if that acronym has currency with BBOers, many of whom have first languages other than English. The pertinence here results from my inability to judge how often mis-fits ultimately involve guesses. Or, if analysis can lead to informed judgments. I don’t know, but I suspect the deal presented here can lead to a lively discussion between readers. I played this deal in an ACBL Instant Tournament. I was new to BBO and had been playing exclusively IMPs, but had recently switched to matchpoints, because all my in-person games were matchpoints and I figured I needed matchpoint practice. Still, I’d learned that such BBO games don’t exert time pressure on human players and I can take as much time as I like to think about anything, including whether it’s time for coffee.

First, the bidding problem facing South, Vul vs. NV, whose partner opens one diamond. South holds ♠A10965 AQ654 – ♣KQ10. I trust you respond 1♠, although I admit I bid 1 thinking to reverse into spades on rebid. I’ve since decided that was somewhere between silly and stupid, but if any of you wants to defend me, let me know. (I didn’t get the chance to test GiB, but I don’t know if I had responded 1♠ initially and rebid 2 whether that would have been forcing in GiB, as it would be in Bridge World Standard.) Partner rebids 3.

Now what? Think about answers for IMPs and for matchpoints. Given the luxury of time at the BBO table, I thought about both. WAG. For IMPs, I think maybe I’d bid 3♠ on the way to 5 , but pass partner’s 3NT if he bid that. At matchpoints, I bid 3NT, for sure a WAG, informed only by the teaching that, at matchpoints, if 3NT is in the ballpark of reasonable guesses, then bid it.

Now, consider North’s problem with ♠ – K10 AQJ85432 ♣864. I think it’s easy to pass 3NT in matchpoints, but IMPs? Partner likely does not expect seven tricks from solid AKQxxxx, or six from AKQJxx because if North held such, he would have jumped. I don’t have that—better in some ways and worse in others. Seems to me that if 3NT is going to make, then so will 5. I decided that at IMPs, I’d convert to 5 because there will be deals where 5 makes where 3NT fails but not so often vice versa. Here, I’ll welcome discussion.

In the 15-table BBO match point tournament, 8 declarers played 3NT, 4 played 5, 1 each played 4, 6, and 6NT.

Focus on the eight, including me, who played 3NT from South. I assert that the three who received a heart lead have two plays for game:

  • hope the heart finesse wins, giving two entries to dummy and that diamonds break 3-2,
  • [long shot, stated for sake of completeness] hope the heart suit runs, with 3-3 split and after winning heart king in dummy, cash diamond Ace [dropping the singleton King, but if not…], exit dummy with a club, and finesse the club Jack, its being with East.

Those who received a spade lead have the same chances as those who received a heart lead, as above, plus some more chances from the spade suit, which I shan’t analyze because none received one and it would divert me from where I want to go, which is.…

What to do when South, in 3NT, VUL at matchpoints, receives a club lead, as five did, which runs to the Ten. I see two main strategies, which I refer to as “HF”, for “heart finesse” and “RH”, for “run hearts”. HF means lead to the heart Ten; when it holds, cash diamond Ace and play Queen, setting up another diamond trick or more. With bad breaks and adroit defense, the contract might go down one, but more likely than not will make. When the finesse fails, I judged the contract would fail by two tricks or more. Do you agree? Think about the defense required. I’ll tell you later what I think.

RH means play like Mrs. Guggenheim [are BBOers’ old enough to know who she is?], go to heart King, cash the diamond Ace, return to hand in hearts and set up the fifth heart. Take at least eight tricks: one spade, four hearts, one diamond and two clubs. Down one at worst and making if the heart split 3-3. I don’t want to take a chance on the HF’s losing and going down at least two, VUL. At least that’s how I thought at the table. Lucky for me, the HF failed and RH succeeded as hearts split 3-3. 3NT making three earned 82%; down one earned 32%.

Four declarers played the HF strategy, but none of their defenders found the adroit way to set them two; instead these defenders relied on poor play for the declarers to boil in their own water.

Even double dummy after an opening club lead, East’s play to beat HF declarers by two tricks may not be obvious. South needs to get back to his hand after doing some work in dummy and the only entry he can make for himself will be in clubs. East can deprive South of later entry via clubs by shifting to clubs on gaining entry at trick two with the heart Jack. Play the club 7 on which South will play the Queen. West must duck, giving South the club entry now, when it’s not useful, rather than later after he’s cleared the heart King from dummy.

This super mis-fit has provided me with the opportunity to engage you in discussion on five possible fronts:

  • As South, do you respond initially with 1 spade, or do you plan to reverse?
  • If you respond initially with 1 spade, is your rebid of 2 hearts forcing [as it is in Bridge World Standard, but I don’t know in GiB]?
  • At IMPs, how do you assess North’s choice between 3NT and 5? This one, I judge, is most useful for forging partnership relations.
  • At matchpoints 3NT, how do you play with a club lead?
  • Do you agree with the analysis of the correct defense for E-W against 3NT after a club lead and South’s losing heart finesse?

A rich hand, indeed.