Thursday, June 11, 2009

How good a passed hand?

Had this hand yesterday playing IMPS that my partner and I screwed up. I was in 3rd seat, no one vul, and picked up AJ4 J72 A KQT862. It went P - P to me and I opened 1C, P, 1S by pard, P. I liked my hand, but dont like to get to overboard when I don't know where we are going to play the hand, so bid 2C. This went P 3C by pard, P back to me.

This now makes my hand very good. Pard not only was able to take another call, but raised clubs. I decided to show my Spade support with 3S now and it went P - 4C - P back to me. So partner likely has 4 not too great Spades, since did not bid 4S, and at least 4 Clubs, with probably 8-10 HCP in hand is first estimate.

I have 5 1/2 loosers so need partner to have 3 cover cards to make 5C a reasonable shot. If I give her the A of Clubs and the K of Spades, I still need a Heart card for 5C, or Heart shortness with Club length. I finally decided that was a lot to ask from a passed hand that could only bid 4C on this auction and since we were not vul, I passed, not without some trepidation.

LHO led the A of Hearts and partner put down a most unexpected dummy, K873 -- T974 AJ754. Of course my decision to pass 4C was very wrong, when the Spade hook was on I made all 13 tricks. But I also think partner must take a stronger action over my 3S. When I rebid Clubs, then made a forward going move supporting Spades over 3C, her hand became an absolute gold mine. I think the 2 bids available over 3S should be 5C or my personal favourite, 4H. It turns out that if she bids 4H, that is such a great bid for my hand, there is a good chance we may get to the slam now. The problem with 4C is it can be made on so much worse of a hand, that it does not convey the playing strength of that hand once the double fit is found.

We wound up loosing 6 IMPS on the board, but had a chance for at least a push if not a nice pickup, when the opps played it in 5C. I think people are still under valuing the power of a double fit. When you find that you have 1 in an auction, I think you can usually count on a full extra trick from the hand, provided you play in the correct suit, the 1 that splits between you evenly, most times :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Which Suit?

Playing teams where you are vul and opps are not, you pick up – AKQJxxx Kxx KJx in 3rd seat. You are playing a weak NT, 5 card major style system, and partner opens 1C in 1st seat. This goes P on your right, 1H by you, 1S on your left, P by partner (denying a strong NT) and 2S on your right. You bid 3S which goes P on left, 3N by partner, and P on your right. What would you call?

This pretty much confirms partner has an unbalanced hand with Spades, so the most likely holding is shortness in Hearts at this stage, since with shortness in Diamonds and length in Hearts, you would have gotten a raise over 3S. The problem is what to bid, and how high. 3NT will probably play OK, since you have a source of tricks, but can you make a slam and where is it best played. Partners probable hands are 3-1 or 4-1 in the majors, with likely longer Clubs than Diamonds, hence almost certain to have 5 Clubs on all hands. (With 4144 he would likely have opened 1D) So lets give him probable holdings in the 3145, 4135, 3136, or 4126 area for the majority of the time, with a void in Hearts a possible variation on any of the above hands. He obviously has at least 1 high honour in Spades for 3N, and probably less than 15/16HCP, since he passed over 1S and only bid 3N after a cue-bid.

The thing that this gives you is you almost certainly have 1 or 2 - 8 card fits, the first in Clubs and the hopeful second in Hearts. At this point, I like bidding 4C to show partner the good Club support, and get that suit back in the picture for a possible slam. We can decide what to do after we see what partner does to that. 4C now goes P – 4D by partner, and 4S on your left, back to you. So far you know partner liked your 4C bid (he took a cue-bid) and RHO was content to let you play in 3N, but not at the 4 level. But at this point, you can almost claim 6C if partner has any club honour and the A of Diamonds, with your Heart pitches and void, how can you safely explore now for 7? If you trust partners cue-bid, there is a very nice bid available now, why not bid 5N, GSF in clubs, the last agreed suit.

If partner has any hand with the A of Diamonds and the AQ 5+ of Clubs, I would like to take my chances in the Club grand at this point. So let partner in on the plan. It turns out partner will bid only 6 Clubs, since his hand was ATxx x AQ QT9xxx.

And now comes the last decision by you, and perhaps the most critical one. When partner bids 6C, do you convert to 6H with the solid suit, or leave it in 6C. Playing MP’s, that is a no-brainer, you go to 6H, but in teams, the decision is not as clearcut. Yes, 6H may gain 2 imps on 6C when it makes, and in a close match, all imps are important. But is 6H always going to be as good of a contract as 6C. If partner has 1 Heart, instead of the void, then the 2 contracts are probably going to be similar, unless partner has something like 5 small Clubs. So you have to balance the probabilities a little here, and make your decision. Plusses for 6H include 2 imps, you know you have good trumps, you can not get tapped in Spades very easily, and even if partner’s 4D was on air (why though?), the K of Diamonds is protected from the opening lead. Minuses include the possibility of only having 7 trumps and being at the mercy of a 5-2 Heart break, and the remote possibility of a Club ruff. All in all, I think the plusses would out weigh the minuses here and most people would bid 6H.

Unfortunately, this is the hand it is wrong on. 6C is the only makeable slam since the defence against 6H goes A of Clubs, Club ruff, down 1. So how did you do? If you passed 3N or 6C, you won a pile of Imps, but if you bid 6H, you pushed the board.