Life Masters Pairs '95 Answers
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)
After 5 sessions, you find that partner is sound and imaginative,
but prone to occasional flights of fancy. He found this wonderful
sequence. He held Q10xxx --- J10xx Q10xx. White on red, LHO opened
1. I bid 3, asking for a stop and showing a solid suit. His RHO
passed and he bid 3NT in tempo. LHO bid 4, I passed, RHO bid 4
and he bid 4NT! LHO bid 5 and I doubled, so he pulled to 6. LHO
continued to 6, I passed this time and he bid 7, got doubled and
went down one for a near top. 6 is cold. If they lead the wrong
ace, we make 7. 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.
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 4 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 Q3 AK876 765 KQ10.
You open 1, LHO overcalls 2 and partner bids 2, standard,
not game forcing. RHO passes. What do you bid?
I bid 3. Partner bid 3, I bid 3 and partner closed
proceedings with 4. 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 Q and an ace. 4 is enough
on the actual hands, but now there's a play problem:
| AK974 |
| Q3 |
What's your plan?
The technical line in the trump suit is pretty close
to a tie between running the Jack and cashing the high
honors. There's some complication in that LHO will
be able to tap the dummy again should he get in. Given
that it appears as if he has six diamonds, playing him
for shortness in hearts is reasonable. This is corroborated
by the diamond continuation at trick two, which suggests
a 1-4 trump break. I ran the J, which picked up stiff ten,
I got this one right for 27+ matchpoints and an
average round. Getting it wrong is worth another
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.
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.
| A54 |
| 63 |
OK, this isn't really a problem. You just need to be careful
not to cash another heart because it squeezes partner out of
the beer. I led a diamond and partner claimed. I beat him to
the beer claim.
I got this right and got 26 only matchpoints for +100.
It turns out that the aggressive 2 was bad, since many
others reached game.
Two good scores leave us a full board over average. Not
Opponents are Steve Onderwyzer and someone I don't
You hold A5 A6 98 AKQ10876. Partner opens 1. 3 would
be a spade raise and 2 is game forcing. What is your plan?
I don't know what's best. I wanted to get into a cue-bidding
auction; probably this is best:
That ought to show solid clubs and demand cue bids. Not being
sure that partner would read it as such, I bid 2 and then 3.
Pard showed 5-5 in the majors and I just key-carded in hearts.
He showed two with. 5NT asked for specific kings. He showed
the K and I bid 7NT. It was on finding the J when he had
10xxxx KQxxx AK x. Most of the matchpoints for 2220.
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?
Without the lead, the right play is to finesse the Q and
then play the Ace. With the lead, who knows? Steve took
the normal line and blew to stiff king.
I got the first one right and Steve got the second one
wrong. Two tops for us. (34 and 34+.) Things are looking
I don't know these guys, either. On the first
board, they bid to 3 on their nine-card fit after
we bid 2 on our 8-carder. No one is vulnerable,
but we are booked for down 1 and they can't make 3.
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:
9 AKQ AQ6 965432
Favorable, dealer. What do you open and
what do you plan to rebid?
I think it is clear to open 1NT (15-17). What will you rebid
if you open 1 and partner bids anything? We got lucky because
partner opened 1 and I responded 2, strong. He raised and after
finding out about the A and AK, bid 7, which is the only making
slam vs. my AJx Jxx KJxxx AK. Good job, pard.
That's two grands in the first ten boards. Wow.
We are successful on this hand for 36+. Now we
Vs. Manfield-Woolsey. Kit is on my right.
Partner opens 1 and I put him in game with:
| KQ4 |
| A6532 |
South passes and we quickly bid 1-2; 2-2; 3-4.
The opening lead is the 8-x-A-9. 9 comes back.
Plan the play.
I'm not sure. Most lines lead to ten tricks, though.
I'm taking votes on the best line.
Partner made this for an average score. On the next
board, I held AKJ108653 Q75 --- 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
Having read Kit's book on Matchpoints just a few days before
this event, I took his advice and bashed, hoping that I wouldn't
get the killing lead, if any: 6. Kit gnashed his teeth, but didn't double
with his AK. I got a diamond lead, bought xx Jxx AKQJx AJx
and claimed at trick 2 when spades were not 3-0. I guess the
right technical action is to transfer to spades and then bid
4 splinter, but I was not confident of our partnership and
to win a big pair event, one has to make some impossible contracts,
so bashing out 6 is a sensible pairs action, if not "right" when
trying to come out from 13th place. Moreover, it worked.
I got a top on the board and suddenly things are looking
very good. It turns out that we are leading the event now.
Opponents are unknowns. You hold
Q9 9643 KJ8 K1065.
Opponents are silent and the auction
begins: 1-1NT*; 2. What action do you take?
I bid 3. Passing is reasonable, since the minor suit
kings are of dubious value. Partner can still have an
18-count, though, and 4 could easily be cold. I bid
3 and partner went to game with AJxxx AJ10x x A87.
With the AQ offside, the K off, and the J9x
off and a club lead, partner went down. On most other
leads, he'll make it, especially a trump lead. He
might make it anyway; most of the field did. What is
the best line? (I don't know the answer.)
On the second board, you hold
K765 AJ AQ104 QJ8.
You deal and open a strong notrump. Pass, pass,
2 showing hearts and a minor. You double for
takeout and everyone passes. What's your opening lead?
I think the A is right. If RHO has diamonds and hearts,
you are getting a top regardless. If he has clubs and hearts,
starting the tap is probably right and diamonds are the right
place. Safer, however, is to lead spades, since partner rates
to have three of them, probably to an honor. Either wins and
gets them for a lot. The Q lets the contract make. Guess what
we found. Zero.
We got each of these wrong. Disaster strikes. 5+ and 0.
Our momentum is broken.
We skip two little old ladies and play Grant Baze and
a bad client. You hold:
KJ7 72 J72 A9853.
Both white, Grant deals and opens 3. Partner doubles
and the client bids 4. What's your plan?
I think it's right to double 4 to show some values. They
are clearly on their way to 4, so you want to set up a
force, getting partner to bid a black suit if that suits him
or to double if he prefers that. 4 goes for 800. We passed
them out in 4 for 200 and a 10. Oops. We can make 3NT; the
other hand is Axxx QJx Axx KQ10 and ought probably to bid 3NT
the first time, but we had a chance at a 38.
On the second board, you hold:
107 AKJ8642 A4 A6
5, of course. Partner passed with Kxx (*), but the ace is onside
and six rolls. Unlucky. Nice lead-direct, Grant.
(*) unless he chooses to bid 5NT, which is easy to raise.
We get them both "wrong" and get a 10 and a 20. More missed
opportunities. We are fading.
Andy Robson is on my right; Hordis is on my left. First board,
you hold J2 KQ632 K43 K64.
I think it is clear to bid 3, denying them a game try *, since
with 8 and 8, one of us will have to bid 3 and there's no reason
to wait for partner to do it. But what ought to be the difference
between passing and bidding 3 in what appears to be a forcing
auction? I think that the person who bids 3 is responsible for
deciding what to do to 3. Here, this hand knows. Pass. So it
ought to bid 3.
(* they don't play max overcall doubles.)
On the second board, you hold A10 7 QJ10743 AK104.
I bid 3, figuring that they were going to bid 3 and
I wanted a club lead. Wrong. I got to play 3 and
incurred a trump lead to hold me to 3. 2 is down two,
so passing (or doubling???) is the right choice. 8 and
8 was yet another LTT failure. Again, each side was missing
all the high trumps, which is why the LTT failure occurred.
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.
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 we have had a good result.
On the second board, you hold: J98752 42 3 A943.
RHO opens a strong notrump and you bid 2, spades
and a minor, at unfavorable. LHO bids 3NT and it's
Lead clubs. LHO is obviously well-prepared for a spade
lead. It's only worth an overtrick, but it's worth 20 MPs to
get this one right. Not us.
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.
You hold QJ8 AQ54 54 QJ63. Your agreement about opening
bids is "most 12s, some 10s." I open 1 and partner bids
2 strong. Now what?
I knew the right thing was to bid 2NT to slow down the auction
and to get the hand played from this side, protecting the AQ,
but I felt obliged to support spades. After 3, we were doomed,
since we could get no more than 650. 3NT makes five; spades makes
six from this side. The weak notrumpers win this board. There
were several strong notrump wins, so this was just a payback.
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.
Second board I deal and open 2 on
Q98542 96 KQ8 97 at both white. They reach a normal 4
and need to play K10 vs. 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.
I pick up Q975 K63 K73 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 1,
however, he'll bid 1NT and I can pass for a great score. If
I open 1, he'll bid 1 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
3. Partner shifts to the 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.
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 Q AK1054 AKQJ8 J7. This
is a clear 1 opener, but I make a very dubious action and
open 2. LHO overcalls 2 and partner doubles. We agreed
(wow!) that this shows something in spades, but no other
aces or kings. What action do you take?
I passed, which I think is right. 4 may or may not make and
we might get them 500 anyway. The danger is that they have
a hidden club fit. In fact, they have a nine-card club fit
and can get out for 300. That's still 14 MPs, since 5x only
goes for 300, also. We had a defensive lapse and let them make
2x for -470 and another zero. Oops. 4+4 is 22; most were making
five for 27 or so. If I were to open 1, partner would find a preemptive
raise and they might well misdefend, so I get credit for most of the loss.
On the second board, we have a major defensive problem.
| A874 |
| J952 |
Partner leads the 7. Declarer plays the 5 from dummy.
Plan the defense.
You must play the 3. Partner has either 97xx or 7xxx.
In the latter case, it doesn't matter what you do. Declarer,
also, doesn't know which partner has and has possibly guessed
wrong at T1. In fact, he did. The second key play is that you
must play a diamond honor when they are led from dummy. If you
don't, declarer can insert the 10 from A109x and partner's jack
is forced. That sets up a spade-diamond squeeze against you for
an overtrick. Doing both things right gets you -600 and 36 MPs.
Doing one gets a 20. Doing neither gets a 4. Guess what.
| A874 |
| J952 |
| K10x |
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!
You need 200 MPs more than we had to win the event, 150 to
come in second. There are about 210 MPs available to you,
so if you get everything right, you win the LM pairs. If you
get most of them right, you are second.
Feb. 12, 1996