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OKBridge (4/25/02)


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For participating in the 2002 Junior Collegiate Bridge Championships, I've gotten a  temporary account on OKBridge. I've taken advantage of this temporary account, often logging on to the server many times a day. However, there are some problems with OKBridge that will result in me not subscribing to an account when this temporary one expires.
First, the slow connection and frequent lagging make the pace of the play quite annoying. Second, I have a problem concentrating while playing online bridge. Just recently, I've miscounted my keycards for the very first time (miscounting keycards is not the same as not knowing which version of keycard you are playing, as I've perpetrated the latter many times). I have also seen many well-known experts make some silly bids or plays as well as the standard of play of many "okbridge experts".
But even as I complain, I still continue to log on many times a day, and will continue to do so until my account expires. I go there not so much for playing hands but more to chat with my bridge friends whom I don't see in person that often. This is where okbridge dominates the online bridge market. The okbridge community is such a long-established medium for online bridge that everybody I know plays there, even though I personally may prefer other (free) services such as Bridge Base Online.
Often, it is actually bad bidding and play that leads us to find the most interesting hands. This is because we get to contracts that we normally would not get to, and think about lines of play in a "what might have happened" context. Here is one hand I played two weeks ago on OKBridge for which the bad bidding and play led to an interesting "what actually did happen" that might not have occurred with decent bidding and play.
Board 881
None Vul
Dealer N

S  3
H  A32
D  A7653
C  KJ74

S  T6542
H  Q9864
D  92
C  8

S  AK8
H  K7
D  Q4
C  AQT962

S  QJ97
H  JT5
C  53

North opens 1D, and the first bidding problem comes from East's hand. The two choices with this hand seem to be a direct 2C overcall or a double followed by bidding clubs. Some players play that a 2C overcall over 1D can be quite weak due to its preemptive value, and so are forced by system to double first with this hand. But should we double when playing standard overcalls? Some players play their overcalls capped at 17HCP, and so may choose to double with this hand as it has 18HCP and a 6 card suit. But if you subtract points for the doubleton DQ, then it seems that the decision is much closer. Furthermore, doubling and bidding a major at the 2 level provides less risk than forcing to the 3 level and has more to gain as we look for the ten trick game in a major. Of course, give partner the DJTx and CKxx and 3NT will be a very playable contract. But my problem is that doubling and bidding clubs does not let partner know that he can bid 3NT holding that hand. In these situations, I would personally prefer to make the underbid, as it seems unlikely our side has game if partner cannot make a raise in clubs while my partner might think I have better support for the unbid suits and bid on shape if the auction gets preempted to a high level.

In the actual case, through an auction I have selectively forgotten, I as West was declarer in 4H. I was not happy about the contract at all, and did not bother to concentrate too hard on the line of play. So the play went as follows:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
North 3 4 7 2 A 5 3 3 6 J K
East K A 2 8 4 Q A 6 7 9 K
South 7 3 5 9 T K J 8 Q J 5
Me 2 8 4 4 2 9 5 6 6 8 T

Here was the position at trick 12, with East on lead:

H  A
D  7

H  Q9



Does this position seem familiar? Yes, it was actually my first smother play! And to top it off it was a self smother as I, declarer as West, can no longer make another trump trick even though North-South could not finess my HQ by themselves. The lead of the club from dummy smothered my trump holding.

It is rare enough to see a smother play, but even more rare to see a self smother play on the declarer. I guess I have to thank OKBridge for allowing me such bad bidding, bad play, and lack of concentration to make my first smother play possible.