With my regular partner (Hank), I play a complex scientific system. Well, in theory.
The first hand of a club game, playing against one of the stronger East-West pairs, I pick up
Hand #1 — S: void H: AKQ97xx D:JT C:KQxx
With nobody vul, Hank opens 3 Clubs, preemptive (non-vulnerable) and my RHO bids 3 spades. Hank has a saying “7-4 distribution is a one suited hand.” But once partner has shown 6 or 7 clubs, things change. Science Schmience. I bid 6 Clubs. Why tell the opponents about my heart suit … even playing it in hearts risks a club ruff on opening lead. Besides, this may easily be a “5 or 7” hand where the opening lead determines if we make 5 or 7.
LHO doubles, which should be “Lead a red suit” (or “This is going down no matter what you do”) but RHO leads a spade and it makes seven. LHO had AK of diamonds (and Hank had two). It was, indeed, a five-or-seven hand. However, looking at RHO’s hand it seems like if she had interpreted the bid correctly, she’d have a guess with little to go on and lead a heart anyway.
Hank comments that this was similar to a hand from yesterday where you have a solid suit but strong honors in partners preempt and a void. It was also a five-or-seven hand. Two in two days.
But the day’s not over.
Hand #2 — S: xxxx H:Q8xx D:Kxx C:Kx
Not vulnerable vs Vulnerable, Hank opens 1H. My RHO doubles and I bid 2 Diamonds, which in our sciencey-way shows a good raise to 2 hearts (usually 9+, but I’ve upped it for the fourth trump). LHO bids 3 Clubs, Hank bids 4 Hearts and RHO bids 5 Clubs. I’m torn. I have an extra heart (which speaks to bidding on). But I have two kings behind the doubler and I know that Hank is capped at 17 High card points. He may have been gambling, and it’s so much easier to take 3 tricks than one. I could pass, but I double in reasonable tempo. I can tell it’s in reasonable tempo because Hank starts thinking. If I was slow, he’d be honor bound (“bend over backwards”) to just pass. But he’s considering pulling. If he’s thinking about it I want him to pull the double, because my extra heart makes me think we only have two tricks. My mental exhortations are for naught. He passes.
Dummy hits with S: AKQJx H:Axx D:void C:Jxxxx
Good news, we don’t have only two tricks. With declarer having AQTxx of clubs this isn’t a five or seven hand, its a plain old “Seven” and I doubled them. Hank having opened a sub-minimum (even by our standards) 1=5=6=1 distribution and then chosen to hide it by blasting to game (just as I hid my running heart suit last time). If I had known of the double fit, I never would have doubled. if if if.
Anyway, After looking at all four hands we still aren’t sure who to blame, but RHO’s vastly offshape double certainly defeated our science. (Interestingly, if we had been vulnerable I could have bid three hearts, showing a four card raise with 6-9 HCP, but non vulnerable that bid shows weakness).
After that the same opponents get a strong jump shift (19 points, solid six card suit) and only get a small slam when a grand makes; huge hands are flying all over the place. Hank and I have the old Quantitative Slam Try (1N-4N;6N), which hasn’t shown up in a while. I miss a cold game when I consider a hand as merely 18 High Card Points when it’s clearly monstrous. (AKQx x xx AKQxxx). I also undervalue (xx — AKJxx Axxxxx) and play a slam in a partscore. The slam shouldn’t be bid, but the game should. Four bad boards, but we’ve gotten obvious gifts to counter most of them, and then my second “Schmience” hand shows up.
Hand #3 — I hold S:AQx H:xx D:AK C:AKxxxx
Partner opens a vulnerable 3 Diamonds … in second seat. (Second seat preempts should be slightly sounder than in 1st seat, since one opponent has passed it slightly increases the odds that partner has a hand). RHO passes and I have to decide.
I could ask partner if he has an ace, but it seems to me that partner should have at least the one king (maybe two) as well as some diamonds, if not the heart ace. And if he doesn’t have the ace or king maybe he has a stiff heart (unlikely) or they can’t/won’t lead them (likely). Besides, it worked so well before. Six Diamonds!
RHO leads a diamond and partner wins, cashes the other, and leads a small spade from dummy. And ruffs it! It’s another five or seven hand, as partner held QJx of hearts. In fact, partner did not have a king, but had a spade void and three QJ pairs. But apparently two other tables had identical auctions and results, so we share the top this time.
After the game we’re comparing with another expert pair (who slightly edged us out to win, due to my above mistakes) and on the last hand they bid 3 Diamonds – 5 Diamonds. This starts an argument as to whether five diamonds or six is the right bid, when Tom (one of my other partners) says “Brian bid 6 diamonds, and they didn’t lead a heart, so he made the slam. Against me, they did lead a heart, so my 5 diamonds made exactly. We each clearly made the correct bid.”
Science can’t argue with that.