Saturday, February 25, 2012

Couple of Slam Decisions

Got a couple of interesting slam hands from the last 2 weekends for everyone to consider.

The first, Playing IMPS with no one vul, you open 1S in first seat with KQ9764 853 AQ4 6, and partner bids 2H over this. You raise to 3H, and then bid 4D over partners 4C call. Partner now bids 4N (RKC), you bid 5C showing 1, and partner now bids 5D, asking about the Q. Without it, you bid 5H, partner bids 5S, you show your second round Club control with 6C, and partner bids 6D. So now what. Here is the full auction.

You Partner
1S 2H
3H 4C
4D 4N
5C 5D
5H 5S
6C 6D

First, what does partner have? He has to have all the KC’s and the Q of Trump to be interested in going past 6H, which he obviously is. So what is a possible hand, something like Ax AKQxx xxx Axx, assuming partner does not have 3 Spades. Is that enough for this auction, or does he need 1 more card. And finally, opposite that, is it a good grand? If partner has a 6th Heart, then the grand is better, but opposite that hand, you need a couple of Club ruffs, and hope you have no Heart loser. And even opposite that hand, if Spades and Hearts do not behave, there is no late entry to the Spades on a supposed Diamond lead.

With needing both suits splitting, that hand will not produce a grand that fits into the correct odds. If you need a board or a good swing, then it is probably worth bidding, but I am not sure I would want to be there without something else. Almost wish you had bid 2S instead of 3H over the 2H bid. Assuming you bid 6H, partner will subside.

Partners hand was AT AKQ64 83 AKJ7, and with Hearts splitting 3-2 and no Club overruffs coming, the hand made 7.

The next hand is again at IMPS, and happened during our final playdowns for the CNTC within our unit. Vul vs Not, you pick up KQ9 AQ865 AJ3 Q7. Partner deals and opens 1C, and then bids 2C over your 1H bid. You want to create a force, and find out about Heart Support, so bid 2D, and partner raises that to 3D. So now what?

Specific bids here are 4D is RKC, and 4N is quantitative.

At the table, this hand bid 4N quantitative, and partner bid 5D over that. This hand now bid 6N, ending the auction. The 2 hands are:

J2 4 KQ95 AJT986

KQ9 AQ865 AJ3 Q7

6N went down 1 when Clubs were 4-1 onside, so the K could not be picked up. The interesting part of the hand is that 6C can make on the trump coupe, assuming you ruff a Heart early. This is a matter of good technique, so hopefully would have been done, but we will never know. During the discussion afterwards, we made the point that if this hand was going to go to a slam over 5D, then 6C is the better bid, since the balanced part of the hand was already shown. This would have led to the makeable slam, and tested my declarer play.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ignoring those 4-4 Major Fits

Had a very interesting hand in the Swiss Teams at our recent Sectional. All Vul, I picked up T74 KJ86 AKQ K98. Playing a 12-14 1NT, I opened 1C in first seat, and with the opponents silent throughout, bid 1N (15-17) over partners 1H bid. If I had a doubleton on the hand, I would raise partner first, but with the 4333 shape, wanted to emphasize the flat shape. Partner now raised this directly to 3N, not bothering to do any of our Stayman auctions. This tends to imply a very flat hand, so after some thought, I decided I would accept partners rath for never supporting her suit with this holding, and play the hand in 3N.

The opening lead was the 3 of Spades (3rd and 5th), and partner put down AK5 AT74 654 T62. That was certainly a flat hand, and it looked like there were going to be enough problems taking 9 tricks, no matter 10, unless I could locate the Q of Hearts. Here are the 2 hands with the lead of the 3 of Spades.

AK5 AT74 654 T62

T74 KJ86 AKQ K98

Basically, if you can pick up the Q of Hearts, you have 9 tricks, with backup possibilities in Spades and Clubs for a 9th trick. From the lead, LHO could have 5 Spades, but it is slightly more likely that this is 3rd best since the 2 is missing. Also, the Spade honours are likely to be split, since LHO did not lead the Q or J. Ducking this with the AK on board will almost certainly lose to one of the missing Q or J on your right, and expose your K of Clubs to immediate danger, so it looks like you have to win this on board. And as stated before, picking up the Q of Hearts means 9 tricks, wherever the A of Clubs is.

After winning the A of Spades, with RHO signaling encouragement, I played the A of Hearts off board, RHO following with the 3 and LHO with the 9. When I led the 7 of Hearts off board, RHO now echo’d with the 2 of Hearts. They play upside down count signals, so if these are honest cards, it shows 3 Hearts, tending to leave LHO with the Q9 of Hearts (with 9x, it is a standard false card, but not sure LHO would make that play). Is there any reason for RHO to give honest count? First, he does not know I have 4 Hearts, I never did raise partner, so if he is playing his partner for 3 or 4, especially 4, then giving an honest count is more important. But if I have only 2 Hearts, why would I start with the A, and if I have 3, then there is no way for his partner to get the Hearts wrong. A clear case of Spy vs Spy. After some though, I played the K of Hearts, dropping the Q9 offside, and when the A of Clubs was onside, made 4.

I had actually been hoping for the A of Clubs to be offside when I dropped the Q of Hearts, as that effectively made it impossible to make 4H. Turns out, they bid 4H at the other table, but did not get the Hearts correct. When something else went wrong for them, not sure what. they went down 2, for a 13 IMP pickup for us.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Less than Optimal Slam Bidding

Playing in our weekly IMPS League the other night, we had a couple of slam hands that we brought back less than optimal results on.

On the first hand, I held 83 9873 AJ65 AQ4 with All VUL, and passed in first seat. Partner opened 1S in third seat, with the opponents silent throughout. I bid 1N forcing, and partner now jumped to 3S. This is where I made a very lazy bid, with an absolute maximum for my original pass, I should make a forward going cue-bid of 4C here. That gives us a good shot at getting to the cold slam in Spades. Instead I just raised to 4S, end playing partner into being forced to Pass with Jxx of Clubs in her hand. 4S can be made on a lot worse holding, and partner can not really go on over it. Partner held AKQJxx Ax K Jxx, and the entry to the A of Diamonds for the Heart pitch can never really be attacked early enough. The only thing that can beat 6S is the lead of a singleton Club.

The opponents at the other table opened a weak NT with my hand, and now the other hand had no trouble driving to a slam for a 12 IMP loss.

The next hand, my partner held this nice hand, Vul vs Not, --- A72 AKJ75 QT876 and heard it go 1D by partner, 1H on her right. She had the options of bidding 3C, fit showing, or 2C, natural and forcing, and chose the latter, which I do like. There is going to be time to get the Diamonds in later, but you want to know how partner feels about Clubs. LHO now jumped to 3H (Pre-emptive) and partner bid 4C freely. RHO passed, and she now bid 4H, which went Pass, 5C by partner, Pass back to her. This is actually good news, since partner was not able to make a Spade cue-bid of any type, and is marked with Heart shortness, her hand has improved on the auction. At this point, she bid 6C, missing the best bid available of 5N (Grand Slam Force). Her LHO now bid 6H, which was doubled by partner and passed back to her. She sat this, and we collected +1100 on the board when I could not read her for having a void in Spades on the hand. I wound up with 1 Spade trick instead of 2 ruffs.

Turns out her RHO had overcalled 1H with also having AJxx in Spades, so it was not easy to get right. My hand was QT73 4 QT62 AKJ4. I have a minimum, but after 2C by partner and 3H weak on my right, my Clubs and singleton Heart make my hand too good not to bid freely to 4C. 7C is pretty easy on the board, and if they take the sack in 7H, it is now easier to picture first round Spade control of some type in partners hand, and lead Spades when in with the Clubs, getting us up to a possible +1700 score. At the other table, our partner did not overcall 1D with 1H, so the auction was a quick 1D-6D, making 7, for a 7 IMP loss.