Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More Adventures in Slam bidding

Last night, my partner at the local club picked up:
AKQ, AKx, Qx, AKQxx.

Playing a standard system, what's your plan on how to bid this monster? After partner makes a negative response, denying any A or K or 2 queens? How about after partner makes a semi-positive response showing 1 king?

Suppose you open 2C, partner makes a negative 2H, and you bid 3C, you would expect partner to bid 3M with a 5 card suit but would you expect partner to bid 3NT with any other balanced hand or bid 3D as sort of "I don't have a major to bid"? Is 3C even forcing? My instinct would be to bid 3NT over partner's initial response. And most of the time that will probably work well. This is why the strong artificial 2C opening is one of the worst bids in bridge. You're up to 3C and you have no idea if you have a fit or if this is a partscore, game, or slam hand. I think responder has to bid again over 3C and 3M should promise 5, 3D is sort of a last train bid, and 3NT should imply some length, but not strength in diamonds.

How about if the 2H response showed 1 control (1 king)? I still think 3C is the best rebid by opener. Now, you're almost surely going to slam, and this leaves the most options open for which strain. 2NT shuts out the club suit.

At the table, I held:
JT9xx, Jxxx, x, JTx.

Now, how do you get to the cold slam in spades?
At my table, I responded 2H, showing 1 control (I forgot what system we were playing) and from there it was easy because partner was able to play me for 5 spades and the king of diamonds.

But if I correctly make a negative response, how can opener raise spades and ask if I have shortness in diamonds? If the auction started: 2C-2D(no A or K); 3C-3S, what is 4H? A cue for spades? A second suit? Is it forcing? If it is forcing, 4H, followed by 5S would get the message across that I want to be in slam if you have 2nd round diamond control.

Anyway, this would be a fairly easy hand in most precision systems. In the system I use most, the auction would look something like: 1C-1D-1H-1S-2C-2S-3S-4D-6S. 1C 16+. 1D 0-7. 1H 20+. 1S 0-4. 2C I don't care, we're still going to game. 2S 5 card suit. 3S raise, still some slam interest. 4D cuebid (can't be an A or K so must be a singleton).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bidding adventures

Not a whole lot excitement has gone on lately in my bridge world. A couple of nights ago, I had a couple of adventures in slam bidding. You pick up: S-AJ, H-ATxx, D-AKQxx, C-Qx. How do you bid this hand after partner opens 1H? My partner held this hand and started with Jacoby 2NT, I bid 4H, he cuebid 4S, and I signed off in 5H, and he left it there. LHO then cashed the AK of clubs and the hand was over. At the club several people blasted into blackwood without concern that they didn't have a club control. with 32 hcp and all the keycards but 1, you should be in slam, right?!

Another potential slam hand both my partner and I overbid. I held:
S-AKJxxx, H-Axxxx, D-void, C-xx, and partner had:
S-Qxx, H-Kxxx, D-xxxx, C-Kx
My rho opened 1D, I bid 1S, lho bid 2D, partner raised to 2S, rho bid 3D, I bid 3H (basically a helpsuit game try), he signed off in 3S, then I cuebid 4D, which basically is first round control and confirming that 3H was really a help suit slam try. He bid 4H and I bid 4S, finally thinking I got across the message that I have a hand with good major suit holdings, a void in diamonds and no club control. Partner, though, decided the club K was enough to keep bidding. So, he bid 5C and I went on to 6S. Hearts didn't split so it seems that we would be down 1 or two depending on the position of the club ace. However, lho revoked on the 2nd spade trick and the ace of clubs was onside, so the revoke penalty allowed us to make the improbable contract.

In another interesting hand from Friday night, my partner picked up:
S-QJTx, H-Qx, D-J9x, C-A9xx
The auction went, starting on his left: 1C-1D-1NT-2D; 3C-3H-4C-?? Matchpoints, both vul, what do you do over this? Is partner or rho the crazy bidder at this table. There can't really be 55 hcp as this auction would indicate. My partner doubled, which I think is correct, even though you can expect partner to be at least 6-4 in the reds with a void in clubs. There should be enough to set 4C. Anyway, partner leads the J of hearts and dummy is xxx, Axxx, Qxx, KTx. Declarer wins the K in hand and plays a club to the K, partner playing an encouraging diamond. What do you lead after taking the Ace of clubs? Or do you duck the club? Ducking will almost certainly lead to defeating the contract because declarer will play AK and another spade, and partner shows out on the 3rd spade, so you know to play A and a club to prevent a spade ruff. But it seems so counter-intuitive to lead trumps to keep the 4333 dummy from ruffing, especially when spade and heart leads are both attractive. If partner has a spade honor, you'll beat the hand no matter what but when partner has grossly overbid his 8-count, you have to figure out a way to beat the contract assuming partner has no help in spades. And leading trumps is the only way to do that.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to count

I encountered this hand last night. I was west in 6H after opening 1H and hearing 3C from north. North led Ace and 8 of clubs. Plan the play.


















Basically the contract hinges on picking the diamond suit up for no losers. Obviously taking a straight spade finesse will work here as you'll get 3 pitches on the AJT of spades and then can ruff dummy's last 2 diamonds, but that's not a reasonable line of play. Given the preempt, south is a favorite to have diamond length. So, I think I'm going to eventually play the ace of diamonds and then finesse south for the Q. But to try to get more of a count of the hand, I decided to ruff a couple of spades in my hand. When the K fell on the 2nd round, I thought I had a whole count on the hand. North must be 2-1-3-7. So, after pulling the last trump, I cashed the king of diamonds and played low to the ten. No one else in middle Georgia would have found that line of play, but I am convinced it is correct. It just happens to be wrong when north preempts 3C on an 8 card suit.

As a side note, it would be the right play to play the K of spades from Kxx or Kxxx. North knows west's shape is 1-5-5-2 and setting up 2 spades can't possibly help declarer, so he might as well try to mislead declarer about his distribution in case there is a guess in diamonds.