One of the reasons I "retired" (for now, anyway) from big-time bridge in 2009 was that it bothered me if I made mistakes. I was very disappointed to get a hand wrong, especially since I was a paid professional.
In retrospect, my reasoning wasn't too smart. Everyone makes mistakes, yes. But, as a commentator/writer/observer, I am shocked at the number of egregious errors the supposedly "top" players make. The number of clear errors in the 2011 Grand National Team final was shocking.
My guess is that my Intermediate level students/readers should get at least half of these problems right.
I'll give you one quiz this month (then the answers), and do the same next month. There are just too many to fit into one month.
1) Nobody vul:
K 6 2
Q 8 7
A 10 3
J 7 4 2
2) Not Vul. against Vul:
6 4 3
K 10 9 6 5
A K 4
3) Nobody Vul:
10 9 3
K J 3
A K Q 10 6 2
*=Diamonds and Hearts
4) Both Vul: Try your defense as East:
|A J 7 6
K 8 2
K 10 9 5
|4 by S||9 8 2
Q J 10 3
A Q 7 2
South opens 1, partner overcalls 1.
North makes an invitational heart raise and South bids 4.
Partner leads the 3 and you win your Q. (It doesn't matter much, but let's say dummy puts in the 10 and declarer, Jeff Meckstroth, follows with the 6).
What is your plan?
1) You didn't break the LAW, did you? With only 8 trumps for your side, don't bid "3 over 3" without a good reason. A good reason might be holding a singleton in their suit. A bad reason would be holding four cards in their suit. An ACBL Hall-of-famer did indeed compete to 3. This contract was down, as was 3 at the other table.
2) Did you do it again? This time our hero at the table bid to 3. No, this is not inviting four (it is just competitive). Maybe there are tactical reasons (hoping to steal or make your opponents misguess), but from a pure LAW point of view, you just don't have enough trumps or shape. The result? You go down in 3 and they were about to go down in 3.
3) If you bid 5, +450. If you double, plus 500 or so. Our world champion and hall-of-famer who held this hand, passed. Yes, Pass-- a 4-letter word in this case. Declarer went down 4 (he didn't have to) and only 200 was collected.
4) Did you continue with the A and another club? Good job. Partner, who has spade length, is not likely to have 3 clubs--this lead rates to be a singleton. Furthermore, partner would prefer to lead a spade from his likely KQ, than a club from Jxx or xxx. In fact, partner had K Q 10 5 4
A 9 7
8 7 6 4
You beat them. Our hero this time (who incidentally committed 3 of the 4 errors in this article) shifted to the Q. -620.
Next month, you get another try. The worst you can do is go 0-for-4, like our heroes in the match.