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Today's Bridge: Dan H. and I teamed up against Ken and Raymond, and for once, we actually got some chances to bid. We started with a 4H that was easy enough, and the opponents followed with a 3NT and a 2S that I was surprised they didn't make. I gave up a trick in the 3NT by missing that the jack and ten of diamonds were in the trick that ended at my Q-9, although I didn't want to lead from my Q-9-8 of spades because I hadn't kept count enough to know that Ken's ace was backed by the three. Fortunately, Ken miscounted his winners and cashed the ace early, leaving me the setting trick. The final contract of the rubber was a happy mistake - Dan opened 1H and Ken jumped to 3D. With S A-K-10-9-x H 2 D K-x-x C Q-J-10-x, I felt my holding was too good to pass and not quite good enough to double (I think we set 3D with good defense, but not by much), so I temporized by bidding 3S and resolving to rebid the spades if Dan took it as a by-the-book splinter. He indeed bid 4H, but then passed my 4S rebid with S Q-x H A-Q-10-6-5-4-3 D 10-x C K-x. It looks like a terrible contract, but as the cards lie, I can't lose. Raymond started with a low diamond, so I put in the ten (why not?) to Ken's jack and my king. Setting up a diamond ruff would be impossible, so I crossed to the queen of spades and back to my ace-king, leaving Raymond holding the jack. I crossed to the ace of hearts, noting Ken's jack, and led the queen of hearts to Ken's king, which I ruffed. It was pretty easy to lead a low club, since Raymond was marked with the ace of clubs (Ken had shown up with seven points in diamonds and four in hearts already), and when he held it up, I cashed the ten of hearts and threw one of my diamonds while Raymond followed with his last heart, then led another one and threw my last diamond. He threw a club. So I ran another heart, and he finally ruffed in, cashed the ace of clubs, and led the ace of diamonds. But it was too late - I ruffed and had nothing but top clubs left. I was worried that he might have been able to ruff in earlier and force me to ruff while he still had the ace to guard the clubs, but in retrospect, I realized that his hand had been stripped. Aside from the jack of spades, he was out of hearts and the unexpected diamond he still had was the ace, blocking the suit. When he took the ace of clubs, he could only have led a club. Nor would it have helped him to take the first club, because all he can do is cash the spade and the diamond, and then he's leading to either the ten of hearts or the king of clubs, and dummy is up, or keeping the spade and letting me run the same loser-on-winner play until he ruffs a heart - by the time he ruffs in, I'm rid of my diamonds and still have the ten of spades to ruff back to my good clubs. High-lowing in diamonds at the start doesn't help him either, since I play the same way. He just gets the ace of diamonds for a third trick that way. Incidentally, the only way the opponents could stop us from making 4H would be to lead spades twice, killing the board entry for the third spade trick. That gives them two diamonds, the ace of clubs, and a heart. Otherwise, Dan just has to lead the ace of hearts on one of the first two tricks (and with his holding, I think that's automatic, at least when the initial finesse loses - cashing the ace can't lose but wins if the remaining honor is bare), and he ends up with six hearts, three spades, and a club, losing only two diamonds and the ace of clubs.

With the first rubber out of the way, the opponents made 2D and then 3D, and I don't think we had a way to stop them either time. I considered competing in the latter auction, but it would have been a disaster. The actual end result was probably better than anything could have been. In the final hand, I opened with S A-J-10-9-8 H 10-9-x D Q-J-x-x C x. That was a pass. Raymond opened 1C, which Dan doubled, and Ken bid 1H. I certainly had enough to bid 1S, and Raymond jumped to 3C. Dan bid 3D, indicating a strong hand and likely a five-card suit. Ken passed, and I raised to 4D, mainly because if Dan had enough distributional values, we might actually make game. Raymond went to 5C, though, and Dan quite reasonably doubled that for penalty. I may not have played perfectly, but he ended up off five, which is a pretty nice score. it was our hand, too - we had five diamonds cold, with a potential overtrick, and I think four spades makes pretty easily too. Dan's hand was S K-x-x H A D A-K-x-x-x C K-J-x-x, Ken had S x-x H K-J-x-x-x-x-x-x D x-x-x (I might have the lengths in spades and diamonds reversed), so in diamonds, he has no club to lead and there's no entry to Raymond's hand. Dan wins the opening lead, pulls trump in three rounds, and sets up at least four spade tricks to go with the ace of hearts, two heart ruffs in hand, and a club ruff with my last diamond, plus the king of clubs if he can arrange to lead toward it. In spades, I've got at least four spades, the ace of hearts, and five diamonds, while the best the opponents can do is score an early club (either the ace or a ruff)and possibly the queen of spades along the way. In the worst case, I don't pull the last trump before attacking diamonds, so if someone ruffs in, they don't have a trump left to lead and I have the guard in both clubs and hearts. A pretty interesting day with some big hands that stand up well in analysis. I was pleased.

Today's Work: Things weren't a complete disaster after a week without me, which is good. There's some confusion going on, and a few things I think shouldn't have happened, but we got back into it, and while I spent more time fixing other people's problems than working on any of my own, I still got enough one for the moment. I also found out that my raise this year was the biggest one I've ever gotten, so I'm pretty proud of my accomplishments.

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Yes, I'm THAT Nidoking. Sometimes I write fanfiction... often I waste all my time playing video games and watching anime. But it's not a waste if I enjoy it, right? I can quote from a movie, video game, anime series, or British comedy apropos of just about any situation, and one of my main goals in life is to entertain people. (The other big one is amassing as much anime and manga as I can... see below for a progress report.) That's me in a nutshell. ("Help! I'm trapped in a nutshell! What a bloody great nutshell this is!")
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