Had a couple of very interesting hands at our weekly IMPS Game this week. So will have a longer article than have put in for a while. Sit back and enjoy some weird and sometimes wonderful things with me.
On the first, with no one Vul, you pick up this nice hand, AKQT83 --- 843 AKQ4 in first seat. There are a few questions right off the bat, how strong is the hand, and what is the correct (or best) way to open it. In terms of high card points, it is good but not great, an 18 Count, but in terms of losers, it is very strong, only 3 losers, and since they are concentrated, it actually tends to work out even better than that in a lot of cases. I thought the 2 main considerations for opening were 1S and then try to show the strength of the hand with some jump in Clubs, or 2C to show a GF hand to start. With the partner I was playing with, I was going to get either a 2D or 2H response to 2C, so I was going to be able to get in an easy 2S over either. Since I intended to play this hand in at least 4S, that is the course I decided on.
I opened 2C, partner responded 2D, showing values, and I now bid 2S. I was hoping partner would now show support or bid a suit, allowing me to show Clubs and start to get the hand across, but partner made a bid I did not want to hear, 4N, RKC. There was now almost no way for me to get the power of this hand across, and the void. I responded 5D showing 3 Key Cards, and partner leaped to 6S. Not having anything else to say, I passed. I had considered how best to show 3 Key Cards with a void for a sec, but there were 2 big problems with that, first, what void did I have, partner needed to know, and second, I was not going to come up with some 6 level bid with this partner, and play in some contract I could not make when he failed to read it. We were not an established partnership, and I was not going to put stupid pressure on partner. Finally, the pair at the other table were unlikely to get to a Grand based on a perfecto fit, so just play the contract in a makeable spot and live with the result.
The opening lead was a small Club, and partner put down the perfecto, so 7S was cold.
J9 K532 AKQ6 J95
AKQT83 --- 843 AKQ4
I have given this hand as a bidding problem to a couple of partnerships now, and no one has gotten to 7S. Although I think that was an aberration in at least 1 case, as I liked the auction, and it should have worked. The best auction I have seen on it so far has gone:
N S1S 2D
The auction was very nice, and the 6H bid I think had to describe about the exact hand North held. First, he did not hold primary (4 card) Diamond support, since did not splinter over 2D or directly raise Diamonds. Second, he could only hold 4 Clubs on this auction, or would have bid 4C over 3N, not 4D. Third, he must hold a Void in Hearts, ergo, the hand must hold 6 Spades. I thought 6H was a very nicely thought out bid, and deserved better than 7D from partner, who was not on the same wavelength. They got to the 7 level, but in about the only contract that can go down, and would, Diamonds were 4-2.
So how would you bid this to 7S?
The next interesting hand, I held A763 J42 4 98643 with No one Vul, and heard it go a weak 2S on my left, 3D by partner, and 4S on my right. I wanted partner to play Diamonds for a Ruff, so decided to double 4S, which ended the auction.
Partner led the A of Diamonds, and this nice dummy tracked,
T8 AKQ753 K3 KQ7
When the A of Diamonds won the first trick, partner continued with the Q of Diamonds, which I ruffed. I finally decided that a void in Hearts with partner was too much against the odds, and if not, I did not want declarer pitching Clubs on Hearts, so led back an intermediate Club. Declarer won this with the A (oops), and continued another Club to the K on board. So looks like declare is some 6322 or 6232 variant (don’t think declarer can have 3 Clubs for this play), and we are going to need 2 Spade tricks to beat this. Partner is known to have a singleton Spade on the hand, so when declarer played the 10 of Spades off board, I ducked as smoothly as I could. Declarer now went into a big tank, not happy with the situation, which in turn made me happy since it meant partner had a Spade honor of some type. Declarer finally played low, and partner won the trick with his stiff Q. My A of Spades meant down 1 and a fairly unhappy declarer, since the only way to beat 4S was a Diamond Ruff.
But thinking about it after, it seems pretty automatic for the hand to go down. Even if partner starts the A of Diamonds and then shifts to a Club, declarer is probably going to lose a Spade hook to that hand, and it should be pretty obvious to play for the Diamond ruff now. So not sure how our partners wound up with a +420 on the hand, but it was a nice batch of IMPS anyways.
The third hand was more about luck and aggressive overcalls. Not Vul vs Vul opps, I picked up AJ T9752 83 AQT2 and had my RHO open a 12-14 HCP 1NT in 1st seat. We happened to be playing Capalleti over this, so I was able to bid 2H showing Hearts and a Minor. I would prefer a 6th Heart when they are this weak, or a singleton somewhere, but I didn’t have it, and like getting into these auctions. One thing to watch for here is if an opponent that is playing weak NT’s (sometimes even strong ones) is playing negative doubles at the 2 level. If they are, I hate to say it, but you are almost invulnerable, and can get in a lot more auctions.
The auction now speeded way up. LHO jumped to 4S (they had the option to transfer to 4S or play it direct, decided to protect something and play it from that side), and partner waded in with 5H, which got doubled by RHO, ending the auction, although LHO did squirm some.
The opening lead was a 5th best small Spade, and this dummy tracked:
5 A864 KJ65 J9876
AJ T9752 83 AQT2
The only problem on the hand looked like they might not make 4S, which would make this a fairly expensive phantom sacrifice. Oh well, hope our partners are doing something good on the hand.
RHO played the Q of Spades on the trick and I won it with the A. I now made a mistake on the hand, I ruffed the Spade to board before cashing the A of Hearts. The reason this was an error will show up in a minute. Both followed to the A of Hearts, and I assumed both Hearts were now on my right. The first reason for the Spade ruff being an error is if I now play a Heart, I will be in the wrong hand later for playing on Clubs. Sigh, too late now.
I played the 6 of Clubs off board, and when RHO played the 3, dropped the 2 under it. And was pleasantly surprised when LHO pitched a Spade on this, as 4S was almost certainly making now, and I had picked up the whole Club suit. I could now run the J of Clubs, and play a third Club off board, clearing the Club suit. This is when the second reason ruffing the Spade at trick 2 came up as an error, that was my quick entry back to the 5th Club for a Diamond discard.
So I was now forced to play a Diamond to the J, which fortunately lost to the A, so I was down 1 in 5H. This was a 13 IMP pickup as our partners were allowed to play in 4S and made it. But shows why you have to plan out the hand to the end before playing early. I was lucky that the silly play of the Spade ruff at trick 2 did not cost anything. I will also have to decide, if I do it the other way with a Heart to the A at trick 2, whether I play for Hearts 22 and try to make, or play for Hearts 31, and play a Club off board. If I play a Heart and they are 31, RHO can win and tap dummy with the Spade, bringing me back to the same ending where I need a Diamond onside.
I am also not sure why LHO decided to bid 4S, unless it was to prevent my partner from getting in an easy 4H call over the transfer bid of 4D. The hand was 7105, so if it was to prevent 4H, which makes a lot of sense, then nice try. It was not as if the hand had much, the K of Spades and Q of Diamonds.