Mining the Ether

An undergraduate from Yale, Matthew Clegg, wrote a program that allows bridge play over the internet. Four people from anywhere on the globe can sit down and play bridge against each other. The program stores hands and allows for comparisons, so pairs can play in a seeming IMP or Matchpoint pair game. Kudos to Matt for building something that worked out so well.

Marty Seligman and Paul Soloway challenged some members of the US Junior team to repeated 26-board matches via computer. For the first time, the Juniors won a match. This time, they were Sam Dinkin, John (Bear) Fout and, for three hands, Erik (Toucan) Secan. The Juniors won by just under ten IMPs. Significant contributions were made by two well-played boards.

North/South is vulnerable.

S: A
H: J10842
D: 32
C: AJ832
S: QJ10842
H: Q5
D: 75
C: Q64
S: K75
H: 973
D: KQ10986
C: 7
S: 963
H: AK6
D: AJ4
C: K1095
The bidding was filled with close decisions. Secan's decision to pass in first seat is very close. With a singleton spade and bad suit to open, his pass was a good choice. 1NT showed 15-17. Soloway decided not to overcall his six-card suit, hoping to get another chance in order to suggest a weak hand with a decent suit. 2D: was a transfer to hearts; the 2H: bid showed three hearts. The club bids were natural and 4S: was a cue-bid. Going past game was very dangerous, but Secan knew of the double fit. Still, with bad hearts and a probable 5-3 fit only in hearts, slam is fairly unlikely, and he had already described his hand. Dinkin should really have played him for 6-5 and a spade void, but since they were not a regular partnership, discretion took the better part of valor and they stopped only a little too high. At least Secan's actions were consistent, trying for slam from the very beginning. A better idea, once the opponents' spade fit had been uncovered, would to be to focus on what to do if they save in 4S:. A 4C: bid instead of 3C: would convey to partner: I have a two-suiter in the rounds with game values. If they saved over 4H:, then, hopefully, partner would know when to go on. But, the play's the thing.

Soloway led the D:7. The choice was a good one. Even though spades rated to be stronger, he knew that his side had too many spades for them to cash any. Dinkin won the first trick, cashed the trump Ace and crossed to the board with a spade. Not having second sight, he lost a trump finesse to the Queen. The defense continued with two rounds of diamonds, declarer pitching a club from dummy while Soloway shed a spade.

The hand now depends on finding the C:Q. Since the scoring was IMPs, declarer judged well to embark on a voyage of discovery to try to find out the distribution of the hand. To this end, he ruffed a spade, drew the last trump, and ruffed his last spade.

Now he could claim. Seligman had shown up with three spades, three hearts, and six diamonds, so he could have at most one club. Dinkin cashed the C:K and took the marked finesse against the C:Q to make his contract. Nicely played.

Copyright © 1993 Jeff Goldsmith