Mark Horton

The Magnificent Multi

Yesterday, techno tourist Mark Newton asked if we could help him to compile a list of the ten software programmes that have changed the world. That set me thinking about innovations that have changed the way we play bridge. The technological advances of the last 30 years or so have been tremendous, but there have also been developments at a more basic level.

In the field of conventions the emergence of the Multicoloured 2 must rank as one of the most important. It can be a tough nut to crack, as this deal from the third session of the General World Pairs Championship demonstrates to perfection:

Board 24

Dealer: West

Vul: None

North

7 3 2

10 9 2

5 4

K J 8 7 4

West

Q J 10 9 6 4

K J 5

Q 10

9 5

East

A K 8 5

Q 8 4 3

J 9 2

10 3

South

A 7 6

A K 8 7 6 3

A Q 6 2

 

West North East South
Pszczola Hamman Balicki Passell
2 Pass 3 4
All Pass

 

2 Multi

3 Pass or correct

Declarer made his contract with an overtrick, but with the room playing in clubs, +150 was worth only 6/64.

How can South get both his suits into the game? (Several pairs bid 6 and one managed a magnificent 7 .)

If you double, a spade bid by partner will force you into some sort of retreat.

Even if as happens here West bids 3 and partner passes you still have a problem.

Could you risk a direct 4NT? Speculative to be sure, and if partner bids 5 are you going to pass?

Recalling a deal from New Orleans earlier this year it finally struck me that the obvious call is 6 !

Meet My Maker: The Mad Multi

If Jan van Cleeff and I were planning a second edition of The Mysterious Multi then many of the deals from this tournament would find their way into the book. They would confirm that not only can the Multi cause enormous problems for even well prepared opponents but also result in some serious self harm, as on this deal from the match between England and Germany in Round 14 of the Open:

Board 9

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W

North

K Q 2

J 10 7 6 5

9

K 6 4 2

West

J 9

K 9 3 2

K J 7 4

10 9 3

East

A 10 7 6 5 4

Q 8

10 6 3 2

South

8 3

A 4

A Q 8 5

A Q J 7 5

 

West North East South
McIntosh Wladow Sandqvist Elinescu
Pass 2 D Dbl
2 H Dbl All Pass

 

That breach of the ‘Law of Total Trumps’ cost 1100 points.

It is possible to ascribe various meanings to West’s bid of 2], the two most common being that it is ‘pass or correct’ or natural.

If any reader is willing to give me a large number of Euros I will enquire of the English pair as to exactly who forgot what, but suffice it to say that it added another instalment to the chapter of this colourful convention.

Table Presence

This sometimes mysterious art is an ‘indefinable something’ that denotes just about every attribute of an expert player: ‘instinct'; ‘the drawing of correct inferences from any departure of rhythm by the opponents'; ‘the ability to coax maximum performance from partner'; a ‘poised demeanour that does not give away anything’… and so on.

In the Round 9 match between Israel and Sweden, Matilda Poplilov demonstrated that she has a sharp eye for what is going on.

Board 14:

 

Dealer: East

Vul: None

North

AK10732

AQ

653

K4

West

9

852

A874

AQ752

East

Q5

K109763

109

J83

South

J864

J4

KQJ2

1096

 

Open Room

West North East South
Levit-Porat Rimstedt Poplilov Sivelind
2 * Pass
2 * All Pass

 

2 Multi

2 Pass or correct

When the tray came through with West’s bid of 2 , East noticed a reaction from North before she passed, so she decided to try an unusual move by passing! (When Jan Van Cleeff and I were writing The Mysterious Multi we decided against mentioning this type of gambit, as we want to encourage players in North America to use the method and this type of thing might be frowned on by some lawmakers!) Declarer managed 3 tricks, -250, which looked quite a decent result.

Closed Room

 

West North East South
Larsson Tal Andersson Tal
2 * Pass
2 * Pass 3 * Pass
4 * All Pass

 

2 Multi

2 Pass or correct

3 Minimum

4 Maybe they can make a lot of tricks in spades

Although 4 was one down North/South could indeed make a lot of tricks in spades, so West’s excellent decision not only prevented a serious loss, it brought in 5 IMPs.

(In Passing we recommend that with this type of hand North should bid 3 to avoid the problems that arose at both tables.)

(Re)Double Dutch

Having recently penned a book about the Multi 2 and the many associated two level opening bids that go with it one tends to notice deals where one of the methods discussed in the book are in evidence.

That was the case on this deal from the final of the Dutch Teams Championship which featured Het Witte Huis and BC’t Onstein – the latter winning by 245-183.

This dramatic deal finished off any hope of a late rally by the runners up:

Dealer: East

N/S Game

North
K J 2
Q 8 4 2
6 5
K J 8 6
West East
10 3 Q 8 7 5 4
A K 6 5 3
Q 9 8 J 7 4 2
Q 4 2 10 9 5 3
South
A 9 6
J 10 9 7
A K 10 3
A 7

 

West North East South
Verhees De Wijs v Pooijen Muller
Pass 1
1 2 Pass 3 NT
All Pass

 

West led the five of hearts and declarer won with dummy’s eight as East discarded a spade. A diamond to the ten was taken by West’s queen and he played three rounds of hearts, on which East discarded another spade and two clubs. Now declarer could take the club finesse and claim the rest, +630.

West North East South
Brink Paulissen Drijver Jansma
2 * 2 NT
Pass 3 * Pass 3
Pass 4 Pass Pass
Dbl. Pass Pass Re-Dbl.
All Pass

 

East’s opening bid promised spades and a minor and after North showed a strong balanced hand North looked for a major suit fit.

Leading by 41 IMPs West elected to double and South was happy to return the cube.

West started off with three rounds of hearts East discarding the seven of spades and a couple of diamonds. Declarer now played three rounds of diamonds, came to hand with the ace of spades and played the master diamond, West ruffing and exiting with the ten of spades. Declarer came to hand with the ace of clubs, East following with a deceptive ten. The last trump was drawn to leave everyone with two cards.

If East had started with the black queen’s a squeeze would have operated and the winning play would be a club to the king. The option was a finesse against the queen. There is not much in it – you are weighing up which is more likely, that West would double without both minor suit queens, or that East would open on just a queen and a jack.

Perhaps reflecting that a squeeze is more elegant than a finesse declarer tried to drop the queen – down one and the lead was up to an insurmountable 55 IMPs.

With Open Cards

As one of my current writing projects involves a book about Double Dummy problems, I am always on the look out for real life deals. This one comes from Wednesday’s Senior Pairs game:

Dealer: West

Vul: North/South

North
8 4 2
A K J 8 7
Q 9 4
Q 9
West East
A Q J 5 7 6
10 6 2 Q 9 5 4 3
J 8 2 6 3
10 8 6 J 5 4 3
South
K 10 9 3
A K 10 7 5
A K 7 2
West North East South
Pass 1 Pass 2
Pass 3 Pass 3NT
All Pass

3NT is clearly an easy contract, but can you see how declarer can arrive at eleven tricks?

Suppose West leads a heart?

Declarer wins with dummy’s king and proceeds to cash five rounds of diamonds. This is the position when the last one is played:

North
8 4
K J 8 7
Q 9
West East
A Q J 5 7 6
10 6 Q 9
10 8 J 5 4 3
South
K 10 9
7
A K 7 2

When declarer cashes the last diamond West can discard from all three suits – let’s say he chooses the five of spades. When dummy discards a spade East cannot afford a heart or a diamond, so must part with a spade. Now declarer exits with the nine of spades. West wins and must play a heart or a club.

On a heart declarer simply wins with the king and clears the suit. On a club declarer wins with dummy’s queen, cashes the king of hearts and exits with a heart leaving East endplayed.

In passing I should mention the Rabbi’s guardian angel was on hand on this deal, persuading West to lead the ace of spades against the ambitious contact of Six Diamonds. Now East could not stand the pressure exerted by five rounds of diamonds.

What Dreams May Come

It is not unusual for a bridge player, suffering from the combined effects of jet lag and the myriad possibilities of countless deals flashing through the brain to find it difficult to embrace the arms of Morpheus.

Nevertheless, some players claim that they often dream of the right solution to a problem. Here are a few that may have been on the minds of the players trying to qualify for the final session of the Silodor Open Pairs.

Dealer: South

Vul: None

North
9 7 5
10 9 3
K Q 7 3
Q 3 2
West East
A K 8 6 10 4 3 2
A Q 5 2 8 7
8 6 J 10 4
A 10 9 K 8 7 5
South
Q J
K J 6 4
A 9 5 2
J 6 4
West: Cohen

North: Horton

East: Berkowitz

South: Helman

Pass
1* Pass 1 * 1
1 All Pass

1 =Precision

The Rabbi’s approach to the auction posed a problem for Larry Cohen, who elected to introduce what should have been a five card suit.

Declarer won the heart lead with the queen, cashed the ace and ruffed a heart. A spade to the king was followed by a diamond and North won and exited with a spade. Declarer won and tried another diamond, but North won and exited with a diamond. Declarer ruffed and ducked a club to South , but the heart return ensured a trick for North’s nine of spades.

+140 looked promising for East/West at the time, as eight tricks should be the limit in no trumps, but it turned out that it was North/South who collected the Lion’s share of the matchpoints, as many declarers in spades collected ten tricks.

As long as declarer postpones ruffing a heart, the combination of the 3-3 break in clubs and the lucky spade position brings home the bacon.

Dealer: West

Vul: North/South

North
3 2
A 6 5 2
3
A K J 7 6 4
West East
K 8 6 Q 9 5
K J 3 10 7
A 9 8 6 Q J 10 5 2
10 9 2 Q 8 5
South
A J 10 7 4
Q 9 8 4
K 7 4
3
West: Cohen

North: Horton

East: Berkowitz

South: Helman

1 2 3 Pass
Pass 3 All Pass

The defence started with two rounds of diamonds and declarer ruffed and took a spade finesse. West won and played another diamond and declarer ruffed, took another spade finesse, cashed the ace king of clubs, ruffed a club, cashed the ace of spades, ruffed a spade with the ace of hearts and played a club. There was no way the defenders could prevent declarer scoring one more trump trick.

Fort the second time in the round, +140 looked promising, but it was East/West who collected the majority of the points.

When East passed N/S would bid unopposed 1cx-1sx-2cx-2hx-4hx and from the South side the game is unbeatable.

By the way, you may be interested to know that the long standing partnership between Larry and David is taking a sabbatical. They have one of the best records around (including a silver medal in the World Pairs Championship) so if you are lucky enough to play against them this week enjoy the moment – it will be a while before you get another opportunity.

This was an awkward bidding problem (well, I found it awkward). Take the North chair:

North
Q 9 6 5 3
6
K Q J 7
A J 9
West North: Horton

East South: Helman

Pass Pass
3 ?

My immediate instinct was to double, but on reflection I decided that the risk of missing a 5-3 spade fit was more significant, so I introduced my moth-eaten suit and bid Three Spades. The Rabbi raised to game and East led the jack of hearts. This was the full deal:

Dealer: East

Vul: None

North
Q 9 6 5 3
6
K Q J 7
A J 9
West East
10 8 4 K J 7
K Q 9 8 4 3 2 J 5
5 A 9 8 6 2
Q 7 10 8 2
South
A 2
A 10 7
10 4 3
K 6 5 4 3

I did not miss the 5-2 fit either!

When the defenders failed to find their diamond ruff I managed to make +420, slightly over average.

With this type of heart guard where ducking once will generally keep West out of the game South ought to prefer 3NT – and on this layout his reward should be ten tricks and most of the matchpoints.

I’ll leave you with a well played deal by a World Champion (and he will be taking his seat opposite David Berkowitz in Washington) – but I shouldn’t have given him the chance:

Dealer: North

Vul: North/South

North
K Q 8 5 4
Q J 7 6 4 3
9 7
West East
A 6 J 9 8 7 3
10 9 A 7 3 2
A K 10 5 9 8 2
A Q 10 4 2 5
South
K Q 10 5 4 2
J 6
K J 8 6 3
West: Sontag

North: Horton

East: Osofsky

South: Helman

2 Pass 2
2NT All Pass

I was sorely tempted to lead the four of hearts, which should leave declarer a trick short, but a low diamond gave declarer a vital trick.

He won with dummy’s nine, played a club to the ten, cashed the ace of clubs and exited with a club. South won and switched to the king of spades, but declarer won and ducked a heart to South. He won the heart return with dummy’s ace, cashed two diamonds and exited with a spade, forcing South to concede the last trick to declarer’s queen of clubs.

-120 felt depressing, but with several pairs getting into trouble on the N/S cards it proved to be a little over average.

With the Silodor being played on Friday the thirteenth I would have liked to have delivered a story about Triscadecaphobia – but this was the nearest I got!

Thursday the Rabbi Doubled

In 1965 Harry Kemelman won an Edgar Award for Best First Novel, Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, featuring the Rabbi David Small, which became a huge bestseller. If the Rabbi Small had been a bridge player the title might have been different.

Dealer: South

Vul: Both

North
K 10 8 7
J 10 7
A K J 9 6 4
West East
9 6 5 3 Q J 4
Q 10 8 A K 9 2
A K 9 8 3 Q 6 2
Q 10 8 5
South
A 2
J 7 6 5 4 3
5 4
7 3 2
West North: Horton

East South: Helman

Pass
1 2 Dbl Pass
2 Pass 3 Dbl
Pass Pass 4 Pass
5 Dbl All Pass

Trouble with Trumps

With a combined trump holding of Q108 opposite A32 you would not expect the defenders to score five trump tricks every day of the week, but see what happened on this deal from the Rockwell Mixed Pairs:

Dealer: West

Vul: None

North A
Q 10 8 4
K J
A 9 6 5 3
A K
West East
K 3 2 A 9 7 6
Q 10 8 A 3 2
K 4 Q J 10 8 7
9 8 7 4 3 2
South
J 5
9 7 6 5 4
2
Q J 10 6 5
West: Lewis

North East: Jassem

South
1NT All Pass

With honours in both short suits I don’t care for North’s 1NT at all – for the umpteenth time 5-4-2-2 is not a no trump distribution.

However, on this occasion opening One Diamond would not necessarily have worked out any better.

East led the queen of diamonds and declarer won with the ace and tried to cash his top clubs. East ruffed and played another diamond which declarer ruffed on the table to play a heart to the eight, jack and ace.

East now played the ten of diamonds ruffed by declarer and overruffed by West who played another club.

Declarer discarded a diamond and East ruffed and played the jack of diamonds, ruffed and overuffed. The ace and king of spades gave the defenders two more tricks for two down.

+100 was worth a significant share of the matchpoints.

There are two points to notice.

Declarer could have saved a trick by discarding one of dummy’s spades on the third or fourth round of diamonds, but after failing to do so the first time East can ensure two down by playing a low spade after the second club ruff.

Since declarer has already turned up with seven points in clubs, four in diamonds and one in hearts he should have 3-5 more. When they are the sxQ and the hxK the low spade switch gives declarer no opportunity to discard a diamond.

Even if North has the king of spades and the hxQJ this defence will result in one down.

Top stars in Bridge and Golf

Bridge and golf go naturally together and a lot of world class bridge players are keen golfers. Jeff Meckstroth might well have pursued a professional career in the game and the same is true of England’s Tony Forrester. Zia is known to be passionate about the game.

Not many people know that a number of outstanding golfers relax by playing bridge. One example is Jesper Parnevik, while another is American sporting icon Arnold Palmer who combines good playing technique with the essential element of table presence that makes you realise why he was always considered to be one of the best golfers when it came to psychology.

Take a look at this deal played at Palmer’s golf club in Bay Hill Orlando, USA.

Dealer: South

Vul: North/South

North
Q
AQJ983
QJ8
Q82
West East
8532 974
K62 1054
K632 975
76 10543
South
AKJ106
7
A104
AKJ9
West North East South: Palmer

1
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 4 Pass 4NT
Pass 5 Pass 7NT!!
All Pass

Driving to the game’s ultimate contract was something of a long shot with just 11 tricks on top. If that is par, then Arnie had to go two better, skip the putting and achieve an eagle!

His table feeling helped him to the successful line in the play. West hesitated before making his final pass, and Palmer decided that the reason had to be that he held the two missing red kings.

Without this information he would have played East for the king of diamonds as a successful diamond finesse ensures thirteen tricks while a heart finesse only gives twelve unless West has a doubleton king of hearts.

At the same time maybe Palmer could not resist the temptation to make a spectacular stroke at the bridge table just as in golf!

He won the club lead and cashed the diamond ace (Vienna Coup) and eight more black tricks. Before playing the last one the position was:

North
A Q J
Q
West East
K 6 2 10 5 4
K 97
South
10
7
10 4

The spade ten destroyed West. He let go the two of hearts, South discarded the queen of diamonds from dummy and made the last three tricks in hearts with a first round finesse.

The Trick Machine

The successful matchpoint player needs to display a myriad of skills, but one of the most important is to rack up the tricks in routine contracts.

On this deal from the final of the Silodor Open Pairs Barry Rigal showed how it should be done:

Dealer: South

Vul: East/West

North
K 10 6 3
K J
10 5 3 2
9 5 4
West East
A 7 4 Q J 5 2
8 7 5 3 2 Q 6 4
K 9 7 6 Q 8
8 A 6 3 2
South
9 8
A 10 9
A J 4
K Q J 10 7
West North: Ornstein

East South: Rigal

1NT
All Pass

1NT was the popular spot, with West, as here, leading a heart for the jack, queen and ace.

Resisting the temptation to play clubs immediately Barry played a spade to dummy’s king. When that held he attacked clubs, and when East won he retuned a heart, West having discarded a diamond on the second round.

Now Barry played a diamond to the jack and West won and cleared the heart suit. After winning and cashing his club tricks, Barry cashed the ace of diamonds and found that suit was now good.

He had taken one spade, three hearts, three diamond and four clubs for a whopping +210.

(Only three pairs could beat that, one of them your reporters’, who, having donned a pair of rose tinted spectacles, used Stayman, which eventually saw the Rabbi at the helm in the unbeatable 3NT.)

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