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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Matchpoints Redux: Griffins Gain at 6NT,
by Jim Kaplan

In a recent column, I wrote that you should try for overtricks when playing for matchpoints. You should also pick contracts that maximize your score even when you don’t get overtricks.

That means whenever possible, you should bid a major- rather than a minor-suit contract or be in NoTrump instead of a major.

George Griffin made an excellent matchpoint bid [in Board 23] at the Northampton Bridge Club on November 6. He was playing with his wife Rosemary and sitting North, with South dealing and both sides vulnerable:

NORTH (George)
S Q J 10 7 6
H A 5
D 10 8 6 2
C A Q
WEST EAST
S 8 5 S 9 4
H Q 10 9 7 6 H J 3 2
D 7 5 3 D J 4
C 9 7 4 C K 10 8 5 3 2

SOUTH (Rosemary)
S A K 3 2
H K 8 4
D A K Q 9
C J 6

The bidding proceeded as follows:
South East North West
2NT* Pass 6NT All Pass

*20-21 high-card points

Opening lead: heart 7

Losing only a club finesse, Rosemary made six for +1440. That was the top score, because at other tables, players were bidding and making 6S for +1430 or going down in 7S when the club finesse failed. That extra 10 points makes all the difference in duplicate. The Griffins and three other pairs bid 6NT to earn nine of a possible 11 matchpoints on the hand.

George’s bid used simple mathematics (appropriate, don’t you think, for a retired high school math teacher?). You need 33 HCP to be in 6NT. George knew that Rosemary had at least 20, and he added 13 more. Therefore it made perfect sense to be in 6NT regardless of distribution. Chuck Jackson and I gave George a great bravo, even as we were the East-West pair victimized by the bid.

P.S.: A leading U.S. player, Michael Kamil, told me, “The best contract is actually 7D, but how on earth do you reach it?”

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