The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

I disbelieve

spades AKT3
hearts KQ6
clubs QJ7642

What’s your plan after partner opens 2NT (20-21 HCP, balanced). I happened to be playing puppet stayman + transfers, but feel free to assume whatever system you like.

Now that people have had a few days to post, my bidding below the fold:

I bid (Puppet) Stayman, but then after hearing the 3NT response (denying 4 cards in either major) I decided to bid 6 Clubs. My hope was that if partner was looking at both the AK of clubs (and 1-2 other aces) then he’d be likely to carry on the 7 clubs. (Note that he can only be missing one of the four cards I’d mentioned). However, I completely neglected the fact that partner may interpret my bid as a wild shoot (with, say 4108 distribution). In fact, partner did have the perfect hand:

spades Qx
diamonds AKTxxx
clubs AK

I should have bid 4clubs (as Jeff says), but amazingly managed to pick up a few IMPs because the field (which should be in 7 clubs or 7NT) mainly settled in 6C or 6N, with more missing slam than bidding the grand. That’s bridge base for you.


Written by taogaming

October 28, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Posted in Bridge

12 Responses

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  1. I would not look into 3 clubs, Stayman, hoping for a fit at spades, since it is clear your partner has at least 2 Clubs, A and K (38 total between partners…), and a third one is quite possible.

    Standard Stayman at 2 Clubs is less appealing in the end, at least to me. You are going to a chelem obviously, playing it a clubs sounds easier.

    Not really sure though, my bridge is rusty these days… I should try to play more 🙂


    October 29, 2009 at 9:28 am

    • We have 35 or 36 points. (Partner and I play that 2N shows 20-21, not 22-23, which is an older treatment. And I have 15 HCP. For purposes of grand, I can’t count the diamond void as straight points since being off a non-diamond ace is still possible, or the club king, for that matter).


      October 29, 2009 at 4:49 pm

  2. Puppet makes it easy. Bid 3C. Over 3D, bid 3H. Probably partner bids 3NT. Then bid 4C. You have shown four spades and not four hearts and five or more clubs and interest in higher things. Obviously, you are driving to at least a small slam.

    If partner bids 3S over 3H, you might try a splinter raise of 5D. If that’s Exclusion, that’s not as good, because two with is 6C, and you need to find the CK for the grand. If it’s a simple splinter, you can follow up with 6D, and partner will generally know when to bid the grand and when to stop short. He’ll have to have the SQ, HA, and CA even to try with 6H. If he does, I’d go. The odds that he has the CK are pretty high if he’s encouraged by diamond shortness.

    If 5D is defined as Exclusion, it’s not awful; most of the time you’ll just end up driving to a grand. Sometimes it’ll be poorish (partner has CAxx), but most of the time it’ll be good (vs. SQxxx and CAK) or cold (vs. SQJxx, CAK). (Of course, you’ll stop short if he doesn’t have the SQ, HA, and CA.

    If partner does not have four spades, his interest in clubs should determine how hard you push. If he bids 4NT over 4C, I’d just raise to 6NT. If he bids 4D, I’ll try 4S, and try at least once for a grand. If he bids 4H, 5NT Grand Slam Force is easy.


    October 29, 2009 at 10:40 am

    • In fact, over Puppet (which I did) partner unleashes a surprising 3NT (for everyone who isn’t Jeff, partner is showing 2-3 spades and 2-3 hearts, so 7-9 cards in clubs and diamonds).

      Jeff, do you still bid 4C over 3N, or does that change what you do?


      October 29, 2009 at 4:47 pm

      • Your methods leave something to be desired. It’s much better for the partner of the puppeter just to bid 3D. The point of Puppet Stayman is to conceal opener’s pattern. Finding a 5-3 major suit fit is not especially likely and is not worth giving up this benefit. It is marginal whether the advantage of being able to play 3D is worth not finding a 5-3 major suit fit. Even on this hand, I’m not all that interested in 5-3 hearts, since 7H could easily go down when 7NT is making vs., say, Qx Axxxx AKx AKx. 7H is better than 7NT vs. Qx AJ10xx KQx AKx, but I don’t see finding out about the HJ to make that decision; we’ll probably play 7C or a small slam anyway.

        Over 3NT, 4C is still natural and forcing, so it’s easy. Again, partner may bid a regressive 4NT with something like Jxx Ax AKQJxx Kx. I’ll raise that to 6NT. If he cues, he has club support. 4D obviously is not great, but he could still have Qx Axx AKxx AKxx, where 7NT is gin. Over that, I’ll cue 4S. If partner comes back with 5H, I’ll “roll” with 5NT. With the example hand, I expect him to try 6D, over which I’m all in. With a less suitable hand, say QJx AJ AKQx Kxxx, he’ll give up in 6C and we’ll still play 6NT. He should be wary of lots of strength in diamonds, since I clearly have at least nine cards in my major and clubs, making it likely (but not certain) that I have short diamonds. If partner cues 4H instead of diamonds, 7C should be laydown; he can’t have less than QJx AJ KJx AKxxx.


        October 30, 2009 at 4:00 am

  3. Wow – nice hand.

    Let’s see – we clearly want to be in slam, very possibly in the grand. But whether 6C, 6S, 6NT, 7C, 7S, or 7NT is best isn’t at all clear.

    So – I’d start with 3S, transfer to either minor. If partner bids 4C, I follow with 5D, and expect partner to pick the slam based upon the value of my splinter.

    If partner bids 4D – presumably with club shortness – I suspect I’ll just settle for 6NT.

    All of this gives up on spades, but I’m OK with that – at best it’s a 4-4 fit, so 7S is unlikely, and 6NT is likely a safer contract than 6S.

    Looking forward to hearing Jeff’s ideas…

    Joe Huber

    October 29, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    • The S10 is a good card for play in spades. If partner has Q9xx, we can ruff a diamond and pick up at least one Jxxx. If they don’t tap us immediately (partner probably has the DA anyway), we can pick up either one. Yes, most of the time, 7NT will be better than 7S and 6NT will be better than 6S, but unless you have a way to show clubs at the 3-level, which not many do, you won’t be able to show diamond shortness to get partner to evaluate his hand well. More important than finding the 4-4 spade fit is letting partner know that lower diamond honors are junk. It’s likely that you are going to have to rely on his judgment to find the CK, and telling him you have four spades and five+ clubs should help him out.


      October 30, 2009 at 4:15 am

  4. How about 3S, a transfer to Clubs (I think at least some partnerships play like that). When this is followed by 4C, bid 4NT, for Roman Key Card Blackwood. Partner has to assume this bid sets Clubs as trump. If he shows four key cards, I know he has the heart Ace and both the Ace and King of Clubs and a contract of 7 Clubs has to be a great contract. If he only shows three key cards, I settle for 6NT, even though 7C is still the place to be if his missing key card is the diamond Ace (I bid No Trump instead of Clubs in case partner only has Ax or Kx of Clubs).

    Larry Levy

    October 29, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    • As far as I know, no one plays 3S as clubs. The most common use I encounter is a relay to 3NT to show various types of hands, typically including one or both minors. (See The next most common is Minor Suit Stayman. I’m not sure that’d be helpful here. But it sure would be great if 3S were clubs. Then you bid 5D and are in Fat City.


      October 30, 2009 at 4:20 am

  5. Jeff, I’m curious as to how you use Puppet. The system I use is certainly old (I learned it 15 years ago), but pretty standard.


    October 31, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    • Mine’s even older and simpler. 3C puppets to 3D. No choice. Who cares about a 5-card major? Are you really going to look for one with Axx xx Kxxxx xxx? I suppose in an extreme case like AQx x Jxxxx xxxx, you might, but you might just play a 4-3 there anyway, at least at IMPs. (At matchpoints, why risk the board on that one decision?) The point is that opener neither confirms nor denies a major when he bids 3D. Then responder can show his, and if there is no fit, all the opponents know is that opener does not have four of responder’s major. That comes up nearly all the time and is a significant value.


      November 2, 2009 at 6:23 am

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