The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

A rather boring round, except for that one hand

The first board is a routine part score — we set them 1 in two hearts. The second hand had north open a solid 14 count, south weak jump shifted with a four count, and north (with four card support) bid a game that made. Looking at the hands, I now realize it took rather a lot to make game (trump King onsides and another ace onsides), but with a 10 card fit and three bullets…

Then I picked up  S: KQJ84
 H: KQ98632
 D: 9

North passed (both vul). What’s your plan?

I see two reasonable plans.

  1. Open 1 heart and rebid hearts (assuming partner doesn’t bid spades). If you get a 3rd bid, then consider bidding spades. Given that I’m light, I could easily see an 1H-2m;2H-2N;3S auction).
  2. Open 1 spade and rebid hearts forever. (Pretending the hand is 6-6).

I don’t envision opening 2C.

I decided to open 1H. It may have been right or wrong. I’m not sure I feel strongly about it. Partner bids 2NT (Alert!), showing a strong heart raise. Now we’re on solid ground (so I think), I bid 4 Spades showing a good five card side suit. Partner bids 5 Diamonds, which I like (since we hadn’t discussed how to handle Blackwood with a void). I assume partner has the diamond ace.

After some thought, I bid six hearts. My thinking was that partner could carry on to seven hearts seeing both major suit aces, but perhaps I should bid six clubs to make it clearer.

Unfortunately for me, LHO led the spade ace and dummy hit with:
 S: 5
 H: T754
 D: AK864

Oops. Down one. Opening 1H jinxed us after all. Perhaps Betsy should just splinter, but she has a good five card side suit. Another auction is:

Me   Betsy
1S   2D[1]  [1]=Likely game force
2H   3H[2]  [2]=Confirm fit and non-minimum GF

Now exclusionary blackwood would be great … if we played it. (Exclusionary Blackwood asks for aces, not counting a specific suit). But I’ve been resisting adding that to our card (since we have much bigger gaps I’d like to fill in first). A “Great once every year or two” convention has now shown up twice in one night. (Hand #20 earlier would have liked it).

Without that, over 3H I could bid 4C (showing first round control of clubs and denying it of spades), but the auction looks like it could easily get confused. (4C-4D;4S-5C;5D-?;Betsy could now bid 5H under the theory that we have a spade loser and I need AKQx of trumps to go)…


Written by taogaming

May 1, 2009 at 11:50 am

Posted in Bridge

2 Responses

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  1. I’d definitely open 1H; if you open 1S, you will never, ever convince your partner that you have more hearts than spades. (Partner, with one card in each major, or worse one spade and no hearts, will leave you in spades.)

    We play suits at the 3 level and shortness at the 4 over 2NT, so we wouldn’t have had the same issue – but given your methods, I’m not particularly thrilled with either 4S or 5D. 4S is OK, though I’d be tempted to hide my spades and make the in-between choice among 3H/3NT/4H (hopefully 3H) while waiting for more information from partner. 5D seems very optimistic – nothing save shortness in spades, only one ace, and none of the top three honors in hearts.

    Of course, with my partner I would have started with 2D (Schenken) – 3D (showing the ace of diamonds, and no other aces) – 4H, and been done with it. It would have been wrong to do so, of course…

    Joe Huber

    May 4, 2009 at 11:29 am

  2. 1H seems normal. With 5-6 in the majors and a minimum, it’s sensible to open 1S, but not with 5-7. And this hand isn’t a minimum anyway; it’s easily good enough to reverse, since you have game in hand.

    2NT is clearly wrong. Either 2D or 3S (splinter) is better. Whether she should start with 2D depends on the meanings of followups. Playing standardish 2/1, I’d try the splinter. If 1H-2D; 2H-4H shows something like this, I’d try it, but for most, it does not. 1H-2D; 2H-3S is close, but usually shows only three trumps. Given how bad the trumps are, that’s a reasonable approach. A direct 3S conveys everything but the source of tricks in diamonds. Either of those approaches seems reasonable. If the clubs and diamonds were swapped, I’d think more of the 2/1, because the chance that you’ll get to splinter or jump is much higher than it is if you bid the suit just under opener’s. Also, if you play Bergen-style 2/1, where 2NT is the default rebid by opener and 2H promises six, then the splinter is much better, since opener’s likely rebids preempt responder’s preferred rebids.

    If responder’s hand were a tad stronger, say add the DQ, I’d start with 3D. Partner bids the nearly forced 3H, and you bid 3S, promising short spades, four+ hearts, a potential source of tricks in diamonds, and 16+ support points. Bingo. Maybe the DJ is good enough. As it is, the hand isn’t quite up to snuff. There’s no low card in clubs, the diamonds need real help to come home, there’s no trump honor, and you only have one key card. Make the spade a small club and that’d do it.

    4S is also wrong. All you care about is specific aces. If you played Exclusion Key Card, that’d be simple; 5C asks how many aces partner has other than clubs. 5H = 1, end of auction. Good rule of thumb: 3-loser hands don’t tend to try to describe themselves; they try to get information out of partner.

    If you don’t have Exclusion, you have some choices. You can bid 5C anyway, which should be a void splinter. Partner runs off to the rest room to vomit and you pass 5H when she gets back. Otherwise, just bid something low, like 3C. You have shortness in clubs after all, right? Partner will then make the most discouraging bid she can, either 4H (if you play fast arrival) or 3H and then 4H after you cue. In fact, if your auction goes 1H-2NT; 3C-3H; 3S-4H, you can pass and stay at the 4-level. Partner does not have two aces outside of clubs. If you play Fast Arrival, partner bids 4H, and you have to try again. You bid 5C-5D-5H and partner passes with no trump honor.

    If partner starts with 3S, the auction will continue 4C-4D-5C-5D-5H-pass. You both know you don’t have the SA, and you both know there’s a probable or certain trump loser.

    After 1H-2D; 2S, it gets pretty tricky. Most play 4H shows some specific hand you don’t have, and you can’t splinter into partner’s reverse. So responder has to bid 3H. 4C-4D is easy. 5C-5D-5H works. We aren’t 100% here, but neither should move without two first-round controls.

    All in all, this is a non-trivial slam bidding problem. Very few Flight C pairs will come to grips with it.


    May 4, 2009 at 3:10 pm

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