Monday, December 20, 2010

What Suit to Play IN?

Playing IMPS in a local qualifying game for the CNTC’s against a good pair, you pick up the following hand with your side Vul vs NV, 76 AJ65 K6 AKJT4. The auction starts with 2H (standard weak 2) on your left, 2S by partner, 3D on your right. You have an awfully good hand, that has actually improved on the auction with the 3D bid on your right, coupled with partners probable shortness in Hearts (3D tends to be lead directional with Heart Support). So now what?

Possible bids that come to mind here are 3H, 4C, 3S (an underbid), Double and perhaps even 3N. What do they have going for them. First, 3H sets up a game forcing situation, which you want, but does nothing to help you find where to play the hand, which is bad. You are not certain which of Spades, Clubs, or NT is right, and partner will play you for Spade Support now. 4C shows your suit, but does it do justice to your hand. Or do you need to, since it should be forcing and you can bid again later. 3S is a bid I do not like, it tends to imply better Spades, with a lot less high cards, and it is not really forcing. 3N is a weird bid, that may work, but you may have to take the first 9 tricks on a Diamond lead, and that may not be possible without very good Spades in partners hand. Double is an interesting bid, except if they are left to play there. It should show values, but does it mean more penalty or action on this kind of auction. And can/should partner pass it? Plus will the opponents, or will RHO always run back to Hearts if LHO passes? Too many questions not to make Double a little scary.

At the table, the person holding this hand elected to start with 3H, setting up a force. This now went 4D on their left, 4S by partner, 5H on their right. This is good in that it confirmed partner should be very short in Hearts, but there are a lot of points and/or distribution in this deck. And we are back at the crux of the matter, you are still not certain what to play the hand in. Although a free 4S by partner goes a long way to letting you know where partner wants to play the hand.

I think options at this point boil down to Double, which should get fairly messy even NV, 5 or 6 Spades, depending on how much you trust partner, or perhaps 5N, hopefully offering partner a choice of slams, in Spades and the only remaining suit, Clubs. The question about that is, are your Clubs good enough to offer partner a choice of where to play the hand or not? I am not sure what is best here, but with partner bidding freely to 4S, I think I like double or 6S the most, with it being a toss up between them.

At the table, this hand actually bid 6C now. The reasoning was that since the opps had an announced 2 suited fit, it made sense that our side also had a 2 suited fit, so partners hand should have Clubs. If you are going with that reasoning, 5N makes more sense, since partner can bid 6C with Clubs, and Spades without Clubs. On this hand, 6C became the final contract, and partner put down AKQJT4 4 J985 83. 6S has a lot of play and will make on most lines of play with the A of Diamonds onside and Clubs behaving. 6C was not a success with the Q of Clubs offside and declarer losing control of the hand and eventually going down 2.

The last question on this hand, do you agree with the 2S and 4S bids on this hand, especially where 4S is made as a free bid. I actually held this hand and felt that with the solid Spades, after the 3H cue-bid, I wanted to bid where I wanted to play, expecting some values in partners hand. After partner later bid 6C, I thought I had shown the Spades, and expected partners hand to be almost a twin to mine, but in Clubs. The only worry I had was partner having a singleton Spade and the opps leading that suit early to cut communication, perhaps for that reason, I should consider 6S more, since transportation should be less of an issue. It certainly would have worked well here, but not sure about in the long run, when I assumed partner was not offering me a choice of locations to play the hand.

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