1,566 players joined the last tournament in November: 678 players in MPs and 888 players in IMPs.
We had 7 players getting more than 70%. The best of all was Alexandre (FR) with 76.12% followed by Stakenas (LT) with 74.86% and Vania (FR) with 74.69%.
I didn’t do very well in the first 6 boards. I took risks on the last two boards – neither worked out – and I finished with 45.86%, proving that gambling is not a good strategy. All the favorites from my friends’ list were far behind the winners, the best one was Fionn (UK) with 67.20%.
The IMP tournament offered some crazy swings and we reached the record score of +60 IMPs. The lucky player is clodette (FR) with an impressive average of 7.5 IMPs per board. Second place goes to Mickael (FR) with +50 IMPs and third place is shared by three players with +48 IMPs: Meadie (CA), Angelo (IT) and Antonio (PT).
Three players of my friends‘ list made it to the top 20, the best one was Janis (DE) with +42 IMPs. I was killed by partner in the first board and finished with +7 IMPs.
Let’s go through the most rewarding boards
The first board immediately offered a big swing. You get the following hand and your partner opens 1♥.
You have a 7-card suit and 15HCPs. But the best indicator for a slam try is the number of losers and missing top honors. You have one in spades, two in hearts, maybe one in clubs and one in diamonds – altogether 4-5 losers.
When partner opens the bidding, you can expect at least 3 top honors in his hand. That means that with 5 losers, you want to invite to a slam. With 4 losers, the slam is almost sure.
When you know you want to play a slam, plan the bidding from the first bid so you can find the necessary information!
The standard response is 2♣ to receive more information, some would choose 3♣ if that shows a slamish hand with long clubs. Partner’s 2♥ rebid shows a minimum hand or that he does not have a better bid. If your 2♣ bid was forcing to game, you can now rebid 3♣ to show slam interest with long clubs.
But if your 2♣ bid is natural and shows (10)11+ HCP, repeating clubs will be non-forcing. In that case, you have to bid a new suit or jump to 4♣ which either takes you a lot of bidding space or you don’t describe your hand properly. Around 30 players got trapped in this sequence and declared 3♣.
My partner rebid 3♦ to show values and confirmed a diamond control after 4♣. 4NT was a key card for clubs and 5♠ showed 2 key cards and the queen of trumps. Now you can count with 3 honors covering you the heart, club and diamond losers so the slam is very probable.
Still, you have 2 extra losers, one in spades and one in hearts. The ♥A, ♦A and ♣Q only amount to 10 HCP so partner should have at least one more honor. I tried to ask for kings with 5NT. If partner has none, 6NT can be cold if partner has the ♦Q or very probable with the other two queens.
Partner responded 6♣ to show one king so I knew I had one more loser, most likely in spades. Since partner has five hearts, I can establish the extra trick by ruffing 2 hearts so I tried for a grand slam.
Here is the full board :
I do not know why but Argine lied about the queen of trumps. But you can see that even without the queen, the grand slam depends on clubs splitting 2-2 or the ♣Q being singleton and hearts splitting 3-2. That is not a terrible slam. With ♣Q in North, grand slam would be a great contract.
Obviously 6♣ or 6♥ led to top scores with +12 IMPs. But the funny fact is that 3NT is down after the spade lead. So isn’t it better to play 7♣ instead of 3NT when it has the same chance to make? Here are the most played contracts.
Another “swingy” board came on board 7
You have this hand:
After your 1♣ opening, partner responds 1♠ and the RHO bids 2♠ as natural. What is your bid?
Argine explains 2♠ as natural. Yes, it seems strange, but in this sequence, North can have four small spades and South can have a singleton. A lot of pairs play a special convention in this sequence.
Sandwich NT convention
This convention is used when both opponents bid a suit at the one level and your partner passed. Here is the whole structure:
- Double = 14+ HCP. The more HCP, the less you need cards in the other suits.
- 1NT = 9-14 HCP and minimum 4-4 in the other two suits. Usually it shows 5-4, but with a 12-14 HCP hand, you can have only 4-4.
- 2NT = 5-5 in the other suits and a hand with around 6 losers or less than 4 losers. With 5-5 and 5 losers, you can bid the major first and bid the second suit at the three level later.
- Suit bid = All suit bids are natural including opponents’ suits. You don’t want to be prevented from showing your solid or near-solid 6-card suit.
Let’s go back to our hand. Which contract do you want to play as NS?
The board seems to be a misfit. You have 17 HCP so the game is most likely on for your pair. The biggest potential seems to be in 3NT. But is +600 points for making 3NT enough? Didn’t opponents just offer you a better score? The answer to the question lies in counting your defensive tricks and the honors you need from partner to make 3NT.
Your ♠A, ♥AK and ♣AQ will most likely score tricks in defense. For 3NT, you need the ♣K or a club support with the jack and another 2 honors. That means partner can score 2 tricks with his honors and you can score 5 tricks with yours. That means 2♠ should be at least two down if 3NT is making.
The math will make the decision for us:
- 3NT making = +600 vs. 2♠x -2 = +500 → you lose 3 IMPs
- 3NT making = +600 vs. 2♠x -3 or -4 = +800 or +1,100 → you win 5 or 11 IMPs
- 3NT going down = -100 vs. 2♠x -2 or -1 = +200 or +500 → you win 7 or 12 IMPs
From these analyses, it is worth to double in most cases. And if it doesn’t go well, you do not lose much.
Here is the full board:
On this board, NS can make 3NT if they play well, but 2♠ is going 3 down if NS defend well. So you should gain +5 IMPs. If some people misplay 3NT or make a mistake in defense in 2♠x, you can even score +11 IMPs.
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