Monday, April 23, 2012

Slam auctions in Gatlinburg

Jumps to a small slam such as 1C-1H; 1NT-6NT are not too uncommon but jumps to a grand slam without any ace- or control-asking bids are pretty rare. In the A/X Swiss yesterday, I got to jump to 7H. I was dealt AKJTx, AKJT9xx, A, void. Our auction: 2C-2D; 2H-4H; 7H-P. How do find out about a 3rd round spade control? I decided I couldn’t find out so I just bid grand. Alli had both major suit queens and nothing else so it was a trick 1 claimer.

Here’s another slam auction that came up. 1D-1H; 4C-4H; 5D. 4C is certainly a splinter but what does 5D mean? I assumed it was showing a control and basically denying a spade control. Therefore, I expected partner to go on to slam with a spade control. However, 5H should ask for a spade control. If you need good trumps, you can bid blackwood easily enough. At first thought, nearly everyone said that 5D should be asking for a spade control, but Capp Jr. brightly thought otherwise. You don’t need 2 ways to ask partner for a control of the unbid suit so 5D should ask for a diamond control. Since opener did not make the picture bid of 4D, which shows a very good 6+ card diamond suit and 4 hearts, it is not unreasonable to think that opener’s diamonds are not so strong, a hand such as AKx, AKQx, QJxxxx, void. Then again, with something like that, you could cue 5C to make it easy for partner to cue 5D.  Another lesser pro argued that 5D should have slam interest but lack both a spade control and good trumps, something neither blackwood nor normal cuebidding would help with – a hand such as xx, KJxx, AKQxxx, A. While that makes a bit of sense, I think if you need a spade control and a couple of heart honors for it to be a good slam, you should be passing 4H because partner did, after all, sign off over the splinter.

Another auction that people interpreted differently: 1D-1H-1S-1NT; X. Is this a penalty double or a support double? How about 1D-P-1S-1NT; X? In the second, more common auction, it is best for X to be support when 1NT is sandwich but may be good to have a penalty double available when they bid 1NT to play. Likewise, 1NT in the first auction is certainly to play so I think X should be for penalty (just showing some extra values) but Alli thought it was a support double situation. In this case, opener (my LHO) rebid 2D and nothing really mattered. We just made different inferences from opener’s lack of a double but it all led to 2D going down 1.

Anyway, it was a fun 3 days in Gatlinburg. Alli and I played great together and for the most part had teammates who didn’t screw things up. We won a KO Fri-Sat worth 30 points. Sunday we were in good position to win the Swiss if we beat the Lynch team but they blitzed us. I guess I finished with just under 50 points because I sat out 2 matches Sunday and therefore only get 5/7 of the masterpoint award. I was grateful for the 2 extra hours of sleep, though.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Singleton Aces

At least 3 times last night I held a singleton A in a suit partner held a lot of cards with the KQ and very few if any entries. This one deal I still don’t know how to bid.
♠ x
♣ KQJ9x

♣ A

What contract would you want to be in? 4H, 3NT, 4S, 5C, 6C? Is the north hand good enough for a positive 3C after south opens 2C? After the auction starts 2C-2D (art gf); 2S, should north rebid 3C or 3H? It’s an awkward deal. Emory rebid 3H and I was perhaps a bit over-aggressive and bid 4NT, which brings up another question. Playing kickback, should 4NT be natural quantitative or key card? Could 4S reasonably be natural? South had so many other ways to show 1-suiters with spades that 4S should probably be key card and 4NT quant.
♠ Qxx
♣ Axx

♠ AKT98
♣ J
This one I knew how to bid. We got to the grand in spades but what’s the percentage play to make on a spade lead with a 4-1 split (RHO has Jxxx)? So many options: ruff a diamond in dummy, draw trumps and play for HJ to drop, falling back on 3-3 diamonds if needed, unblock KQ, cross to dummy to ruff a heart and establish a long heart to discard the last diamond potential loser. All lines were winners on this layout. Someone want to workout the exact percentages for me, just for fun?