Playing in a CNTC qualifying game this week, had a few interesting hands come up. On the first, with opps Vul, you pick up J973 8 AQ975 AQ6 and open 1D in first seat. This goes P on your left, 1S by pard, Double on your right. I thought my choices here were mainly between 2S, 3S, and Redouble. The problem I had with 2S and 3S is they are both flawed, you are too good for 2S and may not be strong enough for 3S, with the bad Spades and weak Diamond suit, so I finally decided on Redouble, showing a good hand, since I will be able to show the Spade support later.
This now went 2C on my left (interesting, where is the Heart suit), 3C by partner, and pass on my right. I needed to set trumps now, so I bid 3S, and partner raised this to 4. The problem I have now is that partner has shown a good hand with 3C, and I have a lot of controls. I assumed 3C was shortness, since there was no sense in cue-bidding the K of Clubs when you are not sure it is any good. The only bad part on my hand is with the double on my right, if partner does not have the K of Diamonds, it is likely to be offside and make any slam almost impossible. But I thought passing now was a little too unilateral, so I raised to 5S, hoping partner could work this out. M now bid 6S, and the hand was not that much of a play problem. Partners hand was AKQTx xxxx Kxx x. Even without the third top Spade, she has a lot of play in 6S, but may have a Spade guess. At the other table, my hand bid 3S on the same start to the auction, but the other hand made a very lazy 4S bid to give us 11 IMPS.
Later in the same match, I picked up 7 A6 AKQ983 AKJ4, Vul vs Not. I do not like opening 2C on 2 suited hands, especially the minors, but this was a little to good, so I did open 2C. Partner bid 2H, which we play as a full double negative, No A, at most 1 K, and if a K, nothing with it. I bid 3D over this, and partner bid 3N. I finally decided I probably had 9 tricks if partner could stop Spades, which I hope it sounded like she could, so left it there. The opening lead was the K of Spades, and RHO made a good play with KQxx, playing the Q and another when partner encouraged, hoping for a 5th Spade from his partner. He was also looking at JTx of Diamonds, so knew they needed 5 tricks on the run to set it. Partner had Jxxx of Spades and the Q of Clubs, so we made 4. The problem on the hand is that partner had Qxxx of Clubs, so 6C makes on the hand. But with Jxxx Qxx xx Qxxx, it is hard for her not to bid 3N over 3D. This illustrates why I hate bidding 2C on 2 suiters, but I guess 3N is better than playing in 1D. At the other table, the auction went 2C – 2D (waiting) – 4D and they got to 6D, which has no place to put the Heart and Spade loser. I do not like the 4D bid, if my hand bids 3D, and then decides to brave out 4C over 3N, they have a chance to play it in Clubs. If you are going past 3N on this hand, then I like that auction a lot more than 4D. I am really not sure if the hand is worth 4C, since you have a lot of possible losers on the hand. And once partner showed the bust, you need the 4th Club to the Q to have much chance. It is a tough hand to judge, play partner for Qxxx in Clubs and try for 6C, or a Spade stopper and Diamonds running so pass 3N. I know there are some people that play certain bids at the 3 level on this start revolve around having a second minor suit with the first bid suit, but that can get pretty complicated, and we do not play it.
I felt sorry for 1 pair we played against in the 2nd round. I do not know if it was the light, my glasses and eyes, or whatever, but I picked up 82 QT83 KQT983 9 and heard it go P, 1H to me at equal vulnerability. My tendency is to try and jam an auction like this, so I jumped to 3D. This went 3S on my left, 3N on my right, all pass. I went to lead the Q of Diamonds, since I had Heart entries, when I realized that my K of Diamonds was the K of Hearts!! My 3D pre-empt had just been made with 82 KQT83 QT983 9, bet the opps were not going to figure this hand out at least. I didn’t want to lead a Diamond now into what might be pretty good Diamonds on my right, so I led the 9 of Clubs. Dummy tracked with KQT73 J4 A54 K64. Declarer put the K of Clubs up, partner won the A, and returned the J of Clubs to declarers Q. Eventually, when partner got in again, she led the J of Diamonds, and declarer wound up a trick short when nothing worked and he could not read my hand for some reason. It turns out nothing is right on the hand and there is no hope, but everyone still got a good laugh in at my expense.
The final round, we had 2 interesting boards, on the first, I picked up AK3 Q8 AK8763 32 and after 2 passes, opened 1D. This went double on my left, 1H by partner (which we play as natural but limited to 9 HCP), pass on my right. I did not want to get to carried away to start on this hand, so just bid 2D. This went P on my left, 2H by partner, P on my right. The fact partner probably has 6 OK Hearts makes my hand better, but I was torn between inviting and bidding game. But partner is not shy, so I just bid 3H, which seems more like the value of the hand, and partner passed. Partner had KJTxxx in Hearts and out on this hand, with a Diamond void, so we made exactly 3H on the hand, picking up 6 IMPS when they bid 4H down 1 at the other table.
The last interesting hand was not one of my finer bidding moments, only the result wound up being positive. I picked up JT93 K975 AQJ2 A with both side vul, and opened 1D after 3 passes to me. This went 2C on my left, 3C by partner, double on my right, everyone has come alive. Instead of bidding an easy 3H, looking for a major suit fit, I bid 4C, hoping partner would bid a 4 card major here. Partner decided I had a good hand in Diamonds for 4C (gee, you think) and leaped off to 6D on the hand (oops). The opening lead was the K of Clubs and partner put down a real nice dummy, K8 AJ62 KT875 93. Pretty much the most she can have and not open, I can see where the 6D bid came from, now I just have to try and make it.
I needed to guess the Spades and Hearts, and I had a couple of ways to play each. I perforce won the A of Clubs, and not wanting the opps to decide how to play the hand or get comfortable, played a small Spade at trick 2. LHO played low on this without thinking, so now I had to think. I finally decided that with the A, he would have at least stopped to think a sec (I Hope), so gave partner a heart attack when I called for the low Spade. This forced the A, and now I had to only pick up the Hearts. A Spade came back to the K, LHO playing low, and I pulled 2 rounds of trumps ending in my hand when they were 22. I now played the J of Spades, covered with the Q, and ruffed as RHO followed. I ruffed a Club back to hand, and cashed the 10 of Spades, LHO pitching a Club. So LHO was either 3226 or 3325 on the hand with the Q of Spades and presumably the KQ of Clubs for the lead.
I finally played for the 2nd hand, and played the K of Hearts and a Heart, claiming when he had the first hand, but the Qx of Hearts. Glad I didn’t know about the doubleton Heart, not sure what the odds are of playing for the Tx as opposed to the Qx, since I can make with either, as long as I guess right.
Thinking about the hand after, I really believe that I played for the wrong hand at the time. Since with 5 Clubs and almost no values on my right, she should have bid 4C instead of just doubling 3C. She is vul, but still, with 5 card support for partners overcalled suit and a side A, you have to take some action.
But as my Dad used to say, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good :)