Archive for November, 2008

Defending like the Maestro.

When I first saw the following opening lead problem, it entranced me. Reese was on lead to 4s in the 1964 Olympiad with

s Q 9 4
h1 10 9 6 5 4 3
d1 Q 8
cA Q

He knew that dummy was strong and balanced, around 20 HCP, and that declarer had five spades. Anybody for the pedestrian heart lead? Not Reese. He began with the queen of clubs.

The idea of this opening lead quite took my fancy and I waited for some years to try it at the table. At last my moment came. Playing a combined scoring of IMPs and
point-a-board I picked up

s Q 6
h1 Q 10 9 7 5
d1 J 10 9 3
c A Q

After partner passed first in hand, RHO opened a weak two spades, LHO enquired and after discovering that partner had a minimum signed off in 3s. I had really been hoping for a more momentous occasion for my spectacular lead but could hardly spurn the opportunity. So, the queen of clubs hit the table and dummy was revealed….


s A 10 2
h1 A 8
d1 Q 6 5 4
c K 9 8 2


s Q 6
h1 Q 10 9 7 5
d1 J 10 9 3
c A Q


s 9 5
h1 K J 6
d1 K 7
c J 10 7 6 5 3


s K J 8 7 4 3
h1 4 3 2
d1 A 8 2
c 4

That declarer won the king of clubs at trick one was by no means the worst news. Next ace and another heart saw my partner in. ‘Knowing’ that I held the ace of diamonds (because declarer was ‘known’ to have the ace of clubs) he shifted to the king of diamonds in order to announce his ruff before delivering my ‘known’ club ruff. After the score-up at the end of the match, my teammates really didn’t seem in the mood for an explanation of how it was possible to take so few tricks in the
minors with our cards. I am hoping they will have a little sympathy if they read this story….


November 19, 2008 at 6:26 am 2 comments

Round one Dresden 2008

For those who didn’t know, there have been several major changes to the format this year. The Open have only 4 boards and now instead of winning on points it is a team victory: 1, .5 or 0. I guess that is good news for Australia who got only half a point against Czech Republic (a draw by Yuan), but perhaps a little disappointing for Switzerland who got 1.5 against Russia, a pleasing result not exactly reflected in a big fat zero.

Meanwhile the Aussie women had a great start drawing with the much higher seeded Belarus.

Round 1 on 2008/11/13 at 15:00
Bo. 54 AUS Australia (AUS) Rtg – 26 BLR Belarus (BLR) Rtg 2 : 2
26.1 WIM Caoili Arianne 2170 – WGM Sharevich Anna 2322 1 – 0
26.2 Nguyen Thu Giang 2101 – WIM Popova Natalija 2264 ½ – ½
26.3 WIM Moylan Laura 2114 – WIM Azarova Nadezhda 2308 ½ – ½
26.4 WIM Dekic Biljana N 2103 – WIM Berlin Tatiana 2218 0 – 1

Well done, girls!

The other change you might have noticed from above, is that although the Open teams have been cut down to 4, the Women’s has been increased to 4!!!! I quite like Chessninja’s comments on this move by FIDE:

The main change this year is cutting the Open teams down to five players (four boards, one reserve) and adding a board to the Women’s event so that’s also five players. This way the strong players will be more tired and play worse, but in compensation we’ll get a few hundred more games between unrated women. Good job, Dresden. If you want to make a stand for equal rights, abolish the Women’s event entirely. No, I’m not really in favor of that. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for Title IX and making sure women have equal access and protection against discrimination in sports. But as is made clear by the women playing in the Open section — in 2006 I believe there were seven — access isn’t the issue. It’s a culture thing. And I’m fine with affirmative action in general. We need to find ways to encourage more women to take up and stay with the sport, absolutely. But doing it this way, swapping 2500-players for 2000-players even up and bringing in dozens of players who are practically beginners, it looks silly.

Okay, enough on that. We won’t really notice it once things get going and I’m sure ChessBase will be delighted to have dozens more just-happy-to-be-here young women to photograph for their in-depth chess coverage.

The favorites in the main event are, as usual, the Russians. Kramnik is back on board one in an attempt to recover from 2006, when he led the top seeds to a miserable sixth-place finish in Turin. Kramnik himself actually had the best performance rating of the event, but Svidler was off and Rublevsky a disaster. This time they have the highest-rated team ever, a 2756 average, with Kramnik, Morozevich, Svidler, Grischuk, and Jakovenko. The loss of the second reserve board cost Alekseev a spot. But I’m sure there’s a spunky reserve Women’s player from, say, Korea who just learned to play on the flight to Dresden who appreciates the change.

Having been one of them myself (you can see my Olympiad games here), the spunky chancer who shouldn’t be there, I have to say YOU ARE RIGHT, Chessninja. On the other hand, I must assure you, nobody minded me being there. And there was actually some chance at the time that I’d turn into a chess player.

November 13, 2008 at 10:33 pm 5 comments

Dresden 2008 Chess Olympiad

Where to go to watch the Olympiad:

Chess Olympiad TV is something you can download. I can’t comment on whether it is worth doing so.

The official Olympiad site looks a shambolic mess.

Chessdom looks a more useful site and it will be frequently updated every day along with links to live games etc.

Chessninja could also be a handy site to visit.

With the Olympiad just hours away from starting, what are the chances for our teams? What a disappointment that Australia’s number one female player, Feldman, is not available. Caoili takes her place as first board and one can only hope she is able to produce her best. I watched her phenomenal performance in the Australian Masters some years ago – it promised much for the future – but so far she’s failed to deliver. It would be great to see Dekic perform well. She’s a real worker at the table so let’s hope that translates into points.

As for the Open team, it is hard to believe we are sending a team without Ian Rogers in it. I happened to be in the team in 1976, the year of his Olympiad debut. I can’t help recalling not only is Rogers no longer playing, but two of the 1976 team are dead: Terrey Shaw was hit by a ferocious prostate cancer that killed him at age 51. And just a few weeks ago Serge Rubinraut died.

The biggest excitement for our team is Australia’s new GM on board 1, Yuan. The story of how I more or less singlehandedly take responsibility for the dazzling career of this young man can wait for another time.

For now I will simply remind you all that he not only got his title earlier this year, but broke a world record in the process. NOBODY, not Fischer, not Kasparov, not any of the other bright young things that are around these days has done what Yuan did. He won the first two GM tournaments he played in. It was in such fine style that he qualified for his title. Here’s hoping he can pull something special out of his bag of tricks over the next couple of weeks.

Our teams:

52. AUS (RtgAvg:2488, Captain:Weeks, Manuel)
Bo. Name Rtg FED
1 GM Zhao Zong-Yuan 2567 AUS
2 IM Smerdon David 2470 AUS
3 IM Solomon Stephen J 2470 AUS
4 GM Johansen Darryl K 2446 AUS
5 IM Xie George Wendi 2403 AUS

54. AUS (RtgAvg:2122, Captain:Andras, Toth)
Bo. Name Rtg FED
1 WIM Caoili Arianne 2170 AUS
2 Nguyen Thu Giang 2101 AUS
3 WIM Moylan Laura 2114 AUS
4 WIM Dekic Biljana N 2103 AUS
5 WFM Oliver Shannon 1942 AUS

Go teams, go!!!

November 13, 2008 at 12:21 pm Leave a comment

VBA State Pairs final begins.

It’s round one of the State Pairs final.
How do you play 4S doubled?
Opening lead jack of hearts. Let’s suppose you win, play a spade to the ten and king and another spade to RHO’s eight, LHO following twice. Another heart, you ruff and? Over to you.










Chua Caplan Hinge Thompson
Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 1NT Pass
4 Pass Pass Dble
All Pass

I guess I bid too much. I was torn between 2S to play, 4S and even 3D. It is true I hit a great heart holding, but dummy otherwise has little to recommend it and even with spades 4-1, I should have made it…..I suppose that means overbidding to game wasn’t such a bad move.

Victorian State Pairs final
Session one
Board 21
Dealer North
NS vul










Chua Caplan Hinge Thompson
Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 1NT Pass
1 Pass Pass Dble
All Pass

Partner thought about sending back 4S after RHO doubled and he has good reason for thinking so. The heart ace on this auction is gold. On the other hand, there is that spade support….

After winning the HA I played spade to the king and a spade. RHO continued hearts, I ruffed, the jack of diamonds went around to the ace and another heart brought me down to 2 trumps, the same length as RHO. After a diamond to the ten, the layout is known. RHO is 4522.

It is the critical moment. One could consider club back to hand and the club hook…but if it loses -300 will be zero when -100 – well, you never know, it could be worth something. And more to the point, it won’t give you enough tricks even if it does work. I gave in at that point, played a diamond and claimed one off. It didn’t occur to me that it is no cost to cash two rounds of clubs after diamond to the ten holds. If the queen drops – as it does – you are gin by continuing clubs. If it doesn’t, you can revert back to diamonds as before.

November 13, 2008 at 1:22 am Leave a comment

My kingdom for a spade.

Years ago I reported this hand on the bridge website I had for a while.

On this deal from OKBridge (way, way, way before BBO was invented) Peg Glasser got to play a slam which was cold….even though it was off three cashing tricks.




















Peg sat North. West opened 4S and she ventured 5H – one of those bids you have to make and sometimes you will have shopped well. I suspect most experts would pass with the South hand, knowing the relief partner might feel as dummy comes down. Still, it’s hard to resist bidding on – the more so since there’s no bonus for playing at the five level. Of course it might have been the lateness of the hour, the Christmas cheer he was imbibing at the time, his impending New Year’s resolution to bid less…one way or another South, Robert Drew raised to six hearts.

Glasser Drew
4 5 Pass 6
All Pass

If it had been across-the-table-bridge, maybe West could have slipped one of those spades to partner. As it was, East began with a diamond. Peg won, cashed the king discarding a spade and ruffed a diamond. She cashed two hearts, ruffed out the club suit and then played dummy’s fourth diamond discarding another spade from hand. East was left with the ignomonious choice of which minor to concede the ruff and discard in. +1430

November 9, 2008 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

Close but no cigar, a small loss to Cayne, again.

In a loss of 15 IMPs we had our moments of glory.

I really wasn’t sure what to do with this hand:


Partner opened 1C and after my 1S response, LHO overcalled 2H, passed back to me. Both my and my partner’s doubles are penalties here. I knew partner had at least 5 clubs once he passed 2H, so I tried 3C. When that went a couple down vulnerable with 2H maybe making, maybe not, it didn’t look a great result:

But in the other room, EW did worse with our cards:


S K64

H 42

D J952

C Q954


S 107

H J1098


C AJ1063


S AJ983

H 5

D A7643

C 87


S Q52

H AKQ763

D 108

C K2

gelutu starfrut leroumain quantumed
1C Pass 1S 2H
Pass Pass Dble Pass
3C Pass 3D Pass
3NT Dble All Pass

This nice little spec double by North netted +1100 and 14 IMPs. South ducked the first heart, declarer unblocked his diamonds, played 10 of spades, covered and won in dummy. Another diamond, C10 run to the queen and North cashed the top diamond before crossing to South who claimed the rest.

It was all a bit too late by the last board, but nonetheless a slam swing our way:



S J532


D Q9652

C 42



S A9

H 86

D AK87

C QJ765



S Q10

H AK53

D J103

C AK83



S K8764

H 109742

D 4

C 109

In the other room EW bid 1C 1H, 1N 3N. We began the same way, but over 1NT I knew partner had 5 clubs, so it seemed like slam had to be a bit of a chance. I tried 4C, RKCB, found out partner had two with the queen and signed off in 6C. Partner’s first chance to make the slam was trick one when a spade was led but he misguessed…at worst now he is on the diamond finesse, but there is better. He eliminated hearts while drawing trumps and exited a spade. When North had to win that the diamond finesse had become unnecessary.

November 8, 2008 at 6:58 am Leave a comment

Making a mountain out of a molehill….

You pick up


Nil vul, RHO is first to speak and begins with 2D a standard multi. You pass, on account of what happened last time you bid on something like this (you don’t want to know, trust me), and LHO bids 2H for correction. Partner doubles and RHO passes.

What now?

5D crossed my mind, and then 4D – it’s always nice to get a plus, isn’t it? And then I started thinking about the hand and the auction to date. Maybe I need to get a life, but really, it is quite an interesting situation.

One of two things is happening. Either LHO has made some sort of psychic 2H bid or partner has an extremely strong hand. Nothing else fits your hand, does it? That made me think I wanted to bid 3H to get him to bid 3N if he had a heart stopper – and if he bids anything else I can correct to five diamonds. If we have the auction to ourselves I think this’ll work well as a plan. But if LHO has psyched (and is planning more mischief) I could get into trouble.

Once I started considering this fact I realised that what I really wanted to do now was bid 3D on the basis that partner was so strong they were bound to bid again. But while I’ve been thinking about all this a considerable time has passed. 3D might just bar partner from bidding any more. So in the end I went with 3H.

As suspected, LHO hadn’t finished yet. She bid 4H and partner said 4NT. Is there anything to be said for passing that? It is MP Pairs, we are in notrumps, and if we were going to make 3NT we are going to make four. Call it too many drugs without a helmet in my younger days. Sometimes they still kick in. I showed my ace – always nice in dodgy auctions if your blackwood reply is also a 7 card suit – and partner bid 6C. Is there anything to be said for correcting that? Maybe. But what are you going to do over 6S next? I passed.

Chua Schroor Hinge Sheather
Pass 2H Dble Pass
3H 4H 4NT Pass
5D Pass 6C All Pass

State Pairs Qualifying
Session 3
Bd 27
Dealer South
Nil vul


S K9632
D 1097
C 9


S 7
H 104
D AJ85432
C 1052


H 6
C AQJ873


S J1084
H K98752
D —
C K64

I guess it was a case of the operation being successful but the patient dying. One off was not a lot of matchpoints…but at least it is likely, if I have managed to find a 3D bid in tempo, we probably would have gotten to 6D which suffers the same fate (in clubs the diamond ruff was not found).

November 6, 2008 at 11:03 pm 2 comments

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