Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Unfortunate Tale

Playing IMPS on BBO, you pick up this hand with All VUL, 7 KQT9753 J KJT4 in first seat. First question, is this an opener. I think it is, this hand is going to play very well in Hearts, but not very well anywhere else, so let your partner know that early. But the person that held this hand thought it would be easier to show it later, so started with a Pass.

The auction now went 1D on his left, 3S by partner, Double (Neg) on his right. Oops, looks like you have trapped yourself. Do you really want to bid 4H Vul opposite a partner that pre-empted in your short major, with RHO showing Hearts? Again, this hand passed, and LHO now bid 3N, which was passed back to this hand. It does not feel right to never take a call with this hand, but there is no real way to describe it now, so this hand passed for the third time. See why it is right to open.

The opening lead was the 9 of Spades from partner, and this dummy tracks, Q82 J6 A84 QT853. A truly interesting negative double, what it was going to do over 4H by their partner is unknown, but the 3N was a welcome bid. Declarer puts up the Q of Spades which holds at trick 1, and quickly claims 10 tricks with 7 solid Diamonds in his hand and the 2 Black Aces. Turns out your partners hand was KJT9643 A8 72 62. You had the first 7 tricks in Hearts if they were led, and excellent play for 4H. At the other table, the opponents sacked in 5D, down 2, over 4H, meaning your team lost 13 IMPS.

This is why I believe you have to open a hand like that when you have the chance. With Spades, you can consider waiting since you can always bid at the level of current bid, even though that may be uncomfortable. With Hearts, you are subject to the whim of who has Spades, and may have to come in at a level higher, as in this case. By passing, it turns out that a hand that had play for game in their suit, never took a bid and allowed the opponents to steal a double game swing back the other way.

I was lucky enough to be on the plus side of this, having bid the 1D and 3N on the hand. I was very surprised with dummy when it came down, and could not figure out where the Heart suit went until I saw that hand after. I originally thought the 3S preemptor had a bunch of Hearts as well, never suspecting that kind of hand. And I am still not sure what partner intended if I ever bid 4H, did not really want to ask, it would not have been fun to play in 4H with Kxxx in Hearts in my hand opposite that.

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