Monday, March 1, 2010

Imps Strategy - Pressure the Opps

Playing IMPS in our Wed League, an interesting situation came up that I have seen a few times before, but that rarely seems to be used as effectively as it should be. Everyone Vul, you hold J9xx x KQT9xx xx. The auction proceeds 1H on your left, Double by partner, 2D (alerted) on your right. 2D turns out to be a good Heart raise, to be expected from your hand.

At this point, I know quite a bit about the hand, some of it the opps know, some of it they do not. First, they have a 9-11 card fit, depending on how many Hearts partner has, I will assume for the time being a 10 card fit on average. Second, they have a double fit (highly likely) in Clubs and Hearts, to go with our double fit in Spades and Diamonds. Third, the 6th Diamond in my hand, along with virtually no values outside of Diamonds, adds up to a -1 or -2 trick defensive value, in other words, my hand will detract from partners defensive tricks, not add to it. Now to what the opps don’t know, they do not know they have a double fit, and they do not know the size of their Heart fit, since it could be on an 8 or 9 card fit, the extra 2 card chances are known to me due to my shortness in Hearts and my partners probable shortness based on the TO double.

The thing I do know, is I do not want the opps to have any room to find out the information that is currently known to me. If they find out about the double fit and size of the Heart fit, there is no way we will buy this hand, they could be cold for a slam based on my hand.

So at the table I jumped to 4S at this point, based on our double fit and wanting to apply maximum pressure on the opps. I do not feel any number of Diamonds will help us, we are not taking any tricks in Diamonds, we will not play there, and if you bid Diamonds now, and then Spades, the opps may define that a double fit our way strongly implies a double fit their way, increasing the value of secondary cards in Clubs. A possible action by LHO if I double or bid 3D is for him to make a 3C or 4C bid, showing where his length is. Now it might not be possible to shut RHO out of the hand.

The 4S bid bought the hand at our table, primarily due to my partner having a lot of Aces. The opening lead was a Diamond, and he put down ATxx Axx Jxx Axx. The Diamond A was won on my right, a Diamond returned for LHO to ruff, and the K of Clubs return guaranteed 1 down at this point. But the ruff in Diamonds guaranteed that there was no way for them to go down in 4H, which was bid and made at the other table, for a substantial pickup our way.

This hand is all about pressure and determining early what the opps probably hold, and how the auction is likely to go. It turns out the 4S bid was enough here, since my partner had 3 tricks against 5H, but without 1 of the Aces, we still have a good sack and 5H will now make.

The last time I got to do something like this, with 4 Spades and a hidden 6 card minor in my hand, was substantially funnier. Similar auction, with a leap to 4S, except LHO led the doubleton in my suit, RHO winning the A and returning the suit. Now when I gave up a trump trick to RHO, LHO pulled out a trump preparing to ruff the opening lead suit, as RHO led their suit to get in for the ruff his way. There was a lot of laughing after when I ran the hidden 6 card suit they had set up, pitching several losers from dummy.

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