Playing with RH, had a couple of very interesting hands come up, increasing the number of times that I have bid a Grand.
The first, from the recent World Wide Bridge Contest, I thought RH made a couple of truly great bids. I will give his hand as it is the most complicated in the auction. He held --- AKT3 K97 KQT642, and heard the auction start 1H from me, 3S (V vs Not) on his right. His hand is really good at this point, but how to find out about the minors and Hearts sanely? He started with 4C, showing the suit, and forcing, and I raised this to 5C. He now bid 5S, showing the first round control, and I bid 6C. He now bid 6H, which I think shows his hand very well. In fact, this is the auction that Eric Kokish put in his write up about the hand, except for the problem that I contributed.
Back over to my hand, I held Q976 QJ962 A A98, and was trying to figure out what RH could have for this sequence. He had to be looking for a grand here, else why the interesting route to 6H. I did not think that 6H was not a place to play this, we have talked about direct vs indirect auctions before, and I thought he was showing the hand he had. Incidently, I was annoyed with myself when I bid 6C and read the Eric Kokish write up later. He suggested 5N over 5S, hopefully showing the A of Diamonds as a good card. I had thought of that, but decided that playing partner for AK of Hearts, Spade void, and good Clubs was a little too rose coloured glasses, and bid 6C. But now when partner bid 6H, could he have anything less than what he had? If he did, we were going to have to have a discussion about this hand, since not wanting to insult partner here, I raised to 7H. There was nothing to the play, even Clubs split, so claimed very quickly.
Of the 2110 times this hand was played, the grand was bid 198 times, or 9% of the pairs. The worst part is there were 565 pairs that only bid game, and several that did not even bid game on this hand.
The second hand was from our weekly IMPS League game, playing against a good pair. I held AK865 --- AQ983 A95 and heard partner open 1C. I bid 1S over this, and partner bid 2H, the full reverse. Even with no real fit, this was starting to look interesting. I bid 3D (4SF) over 2H, looking for more info, and my LHO doubled this. Partner now bid 3H freely, and I bid 4C, setting trumps. Partner bid 4D over this, and after the double, I assumed this was the void, so I bid 5N, asking about Clubs. Not sure where all 13 tricks are coming from here, but that won't be my problem. Partner thought for a sec and bid 7C over that. The opening lead was the 2 of Clubs, and here are the 2 hands as a play problem.
Partner allowed the Club to go to the 8 in his hand, and thought about options. Without the Club lead, there were 3 Heart ruffs in Dummy, but transportation is a problem. Partner did not look at the hand long enough, and decided to try to set up Spades, playing AK, when the second Spade got ruffed and another Club came back, the hand got ugly quick, and partner eventually drifted off 3 tricks.
I really think this is a neat hand, that has a couple of chances for making, primarily on a squeeze and partial strip. If you plan to ruff 2 Hearts in dummy, you come to 12 tricks, with threats in Spades, Diamonds, and Hearts for the opps to cover in the end position. But you need to ensure that you cash the A of Diamonds early as well, or you will squeeze dummy. It also looks like since the double of 3D, the squeeze might have to operate on your RHO only. There is also 1 other chance that I talked about with partner after.
I think the correct line of play is ruff a Heart, ruff a low Diamond, ruff another Heart, A of Diamonds, and the Q of Diamonds, making RHO cover this with the K. And now the extra chance comes in, RHO started with 10xx of Diamonds, so the 10 drops under the Q and K, making it easy to set up the 98 of Diamonds for trick 13.
It turns out the squeeze does not operate on this hand, so you have to take in the extra chance to make it. At the other table, they stopped in 6C, and also got a Club lead. But something went wrong and they also went down in 6C, cutting the loss on the board to 2 IMPS.