Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Does This Mean?

Playing IMPS in the weekly IMPS game, you hold the following nice hand VUL vs NV, AQ75 A83 K4 AK95 and open 2N after it went Pass on your right. This goes Pass on your left, and partner bids 3C (Puppet Stayman). You are all set to bid 3D showing 1 or more 4 card major, when RHO, who had passed initially, chimes in with that same 3D call. Now what?

First things first, you check the opps card, and see that they play a weak 2D, so why did RHO not open that to start, but is willing to wander into a live auction now. Assuming not complete suicidal tendencies, which is possible given who it is, the probable answer is they had some feature in the hand preventing a normal weak 2 in Diamonds, probably a 4 card major or similar. A 2nd minor would not stop them from opening 2D, so you can probably rule out Clubs as a 2nd suit. So if you give RHO some kind of 6-4 or 7-4, that makes a little more sense.

Second question, does an immediate bid now work the same as it would directly over 3C, does it show a 5 card major or a 4 card major? What would your partnership meaning be of a free 3S bid here be, showing 4 or 5, or ambiguous, if you play Puppet Stayman. And if it shows 5, how do you indicate you do have a 4 card major, or can you. Simple things first, assume a double would be penalty oriented, and 3N would show at least 1.5 stoppers and probably deny anything like a major. So since you have neither of those, options look like they are between 3S and Pass.

The person holding this hand finally opted to Pass and see what partner did, opting for flexibility, and not muddying the waters with an ambiguous 3S call. This now went 4D on your left, Double by partner, Pass back to you. Again, now what?

I think I would have passed here, you have a lot of defense, and assume if partner has anything to help, this will go down a few, maybe even a lot (think +800 or +1100). And bidding now risks turning a plus into a minus if you and partner are not on the same wavelength, especially with the warning that suits are probably not breaking the best.

At the table, the person with this hand thought for a while and wound up bidding 4S, hoping if partner did not have Spades, they would pull it to 5C, which hopefully would have some play. That is a lot of ‘Hopefully’s’ in there, which is why I come back to the pass and take the plus philosophy, but hard to argue with success. In this case, the opening lead was the A of Diamonds and partner put down JTxx 98 JT QJTxx, a min, but a perfect fit. 4S made with an overtrick when the Spade hook was onside and they split 3-2 (perhaps against the odds). Switch the majors and it will be a tough call for this hand to bid 5C, but it maybe/should reason it out.

The 3D bid was made on Kx KJTx Q98xxx x, a bit of a stretch, and not happy if it goes a quick double on your left, but without it there is no story. And you never win if you do not force the opps out of their comfort zone.


The next hand in the same match was also really interesting, but from our point of view this time. All Vul, you hold KJ2 AKJ7 A KQJ98 and hear it go 2S on your right, alerted as showing a 2 suiter (5-5+) with Spades and any other suit and less than an opening bid.

The first thing to decide is how to approach this from your hand. You can start with the assumption that RHO has Spades and Diamonds, until proven different. The normal course of action here would likely be to bid 3N, since on a Spade lead, you should have time to knock out the A of Clubs and scramble home. And if partner has anything, they can check how good your hand is over the 3N. The problem with that logic is LHO also knows about openers second suit. And if they decide that a Spade lead is not called for and ever find a Diamond lead, you may not have many tricks in NT. For that reason, and my hand is so good if a fit is found, I decided to start with a TO double, treating the 2S opener as a standard pre-empt to start (in our methods)

This went Pass on my left, 2N (Lebensohl) by Pard, and Pass on my right. We play pretty standard Lebensohl here, but bidding 3C has a good chance of my playing there if pard is broke. I thought I wanted to do something to indicate general strength here, but was not sure what. Just because I think RHO has Diamonds, does not mean pard is in on the joke. And I did not want to play 3D on some kind of 2-1 or 3-1 fit. So the options I thought I had were 3S and 4C. 3S has the advantage of leaving 3N open as a possible contract, but since it will be played by pard, the now more probable Diamond lead from opener will kill my stopper at trick 1, forcing pard to have an actual second stopper, plus another card, to make 3N from his side. And if pard ever bids 4D over 3S, I am not sure what I am going to do, everything will be a distortion now. So for these reasons, and to show where I lived, I finally decided to jump to 4C.

This now went P, 4H, P back to me. See how easy it is to create problems for yourself without really trying, it is a natural gift for me it seems. OK, what do I need for a slam from partner. I need one of the 2 missing Aces, and either the Q of Hearts 4/5th or 5-6 Hearts and a good break. That is a lot for a 2N bid to hold, couple that with the announced fact there are nasty distributions walking around (from the 2 suited 2S bid), and I decided that taking the plus here was the best course, and passed.

Pard did have the good version of a poor hand, holding 6 Hearts to the nothing, and the nice Q of Spades. 4H made an easy overtrick on the Diamond lead (that was openers second suit), losing to the 2 Black Aces when Hearts were 2-1. Not sure what they played in at the other table, we were not told, but we did win 13 IMPS on the board, so either they got to 3N down on a Diamond lead, or they bid the slam off 2 cashing Aces. It is a tough hand, that I think I got right more on luck than perfect judgment, but I did have a reason for what I did each time, and it did work as I expected from the start of the hand, so will take it.

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