Ross Taylor

After Day One – 2009 CNTC in Penticton

Day one has finished. The maximum you can win in a match is 25 Victory Points (V.P.’s) Given the matches are so short at this stage – it is hard to win or lose by a large margin – so far we have earned at least 13 VP per match – I think.

To simply qualify for the playoffs is everybody’s goal – and if you eventually get to the point where you “know” you are going to make it, try to place in the top 3 – since then you get to select your opponents in the knockout phase of the tournament.

Historically in the CNTC, averaging 17 VP per match makes you a lock to qualify for the KO portion. I have heard that 16.5 is a comfortable average too – and in some years 16 VP per match was enough.

Well we have only played 5 matches so far, but we have 83/125 possible VP. We are averaging 16.6 VP per match – which is likely why we now stand 8th.

It was a rush to sit down at the screened tables surrounded by so many people from my past and present who are all here for the same purpose – to beat each others’ heads in and WIN !

Our very first hand of the tournament woke us all up in a hurry. Both vul, I held KJxx 10 AK104 K76x.

RHO opened 1C, and I bid 1D. (The normal approach would be to pass now and wait for them to bid hearts and then make a take out double). LHO bid 1H, and Keith was there like a bear with 3D – a weak raise.

RHO bid 3H, I had had enough of course, and LHO bid the 4th and final heart. Keith led a low diamond and dummy was


I won the lead with the king, and shifted to my singleton H10 – mainly by process of elimination – if not the heart then what?

This was ducked smoothly all around to dummy’s queen. Declarer led an immediate low club from the table and it was my turn to duck smoothly. He played the ten from hand and lost to Keith’s Jack. That looked good for us.

Keith exited a low spade; declarer played the queen, and I won the king. Pretty sure Keith had the third ten of spades, so I exited a spade and Keith’s ten forced the dummy’s Ace.

Now a heart was played from the dummy and a palpable pause when I pitched a diamond and failed to follow suit. He soldiered on and rose with the Ace in his hand and now ran the C9 to my king, completing his misery in the club suit as I won the king and gave Keith a ruff. Keith exited King and another heart and when the smoke cleared we were +400 as declarer had to go down 4. Welcome to Penticton ! I’m glad it wasn’t me – no time to even clear the butterflies before that one.

Later in the same match, this same player on my left held AJ109853 J4 3 1095. Both vul, and on his right I opened the bidding 1H. He jumped to 2S – I get this – no one wants to go for 800 or 1100 in the first match – but surely 3S or if you prefer 1S is the better call.

Anyway, this was passed around to me on his right and I bid double for takeout. Keith responded 3D; I raised to 4D; Keith re-raised to 5D, and the preemptor’s hand expressed his opinion with a double of 5D – which became the final contract.

Partner led the King of clubs, and dummy was


At trick 2, partner shifted to the King of Spades. What do you play and why? LHO thought for long time and played an encouraging card. Alas, partner had no more spades, so Keith was able to establish the hearts and wrap up a gorgeous plus 750! Keith had been dealt 762 3 QJ9542 J63.

Can this problem be solved? Well you could reason that Keith would not bid 5D with a doubleton spade – 3 is more likely. You could also surmise your partner might have bid three spades at some point with AK of clubs and Kx of spades.

But the biggest clue is that if partner did have Kx of spades, he must, no MUST, play a low spade at trick 2 – forcing you to return one. When he didn’t do that, it’s because he could not. Ergo you should overtake the spade king with your ace, temporarily setting up the dummy’s queen; and then returning a spade for partner to ruff and a well deserved plus 200.

I thought that was a really interesting hand.

Next up was our secret weapon – the weak 2 diamond opener. I persuaded Keith that this bid, although Stone-Age in nature, was a very good imp generator, and he is now convinced. Recently we changed our methods specifically for this weak 2 bid – and decided a 2NT response is simply invitational to 3NT – giving up on the normal informatory responses in lieu of practicality. In fact, even our new suit responses are not forcing.

So along came this moose – AK KQ96 Q85 AQ65. I was preparing to open 2NT when lo and behold, Keith was in the auction first with a 2D opener. OK so the good news is I know we have a good game in 5D or 3NT – but what about slam in diamonds or even NT? But I had no methods available to me. I had to decide right here right now do I bid Key Card Blackwood or do I settle for game in 3NT.

Many players would bid 4NT KCB, but we are very liberal with suit quality and our range is 4 – 10 HCP so that could result in silliness I thought. So I bid 3NT and was dismayed to see Keith table :


As you can see, 6D is a great contract – virtually 100%. And 3NT could even go down after a heart lead. They led the HJ, so I had no entry to the diamonds. If they can duck the DA twice I only have 8 sure tricks. So I won the heart in dummy, and planned to duck a club to my LHO. I was keeping alive the possibility of two club tricks.

RHO played the C9 so I could now finesse the queen – which held – so twelve tricks were immediately claimed. We of course lost ten imps on this board to the 6D contract bid at the other table.

I am sad to report that even at this level of bridge, I am told the player at the other table finessed the club queen also to make 6 – which is an egregious error as twelve tricks are cold with no finesses ! I heard of at least one other player who did this – pretty sad!

I gather most of the field passed Keith’s hand and when partner opened 2NT – they wheeled out 3S – showing some form of 1 or 2 suited diamond hand. 6D was the inevitable result.

Needless to say we decided to change our methods after the match – so this cannot happen again. You lose imps for many reasons at bridge – you make a mistake; they do something really good; they get lucky; you get unlucky; but to lose 10 imps because your methods are inferior to everyone else is NOT acceptable.

There’s not a whole lot of available time – so I will stop here and get ready for Day two. The standings are linked here at the CBF website

If anyone would like to contact me directly I can be reached at


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