Monday, September 21, 2009

Board 5

Board 5
Our side vulnerable

♠ Q 2 A 8 5 A K 9 8 6 ♣ 6 5 3

Partner opens one diamond, and I raise to two (inverted). Partner bids three diamonds. Now what?

----

I don't think it pays to get too involved in auctions like this. You have a balanced hand, some stuff in both majors, and the queen-doubleton of spades suggests it might be preferable to play notrump from your side. Three notrump might not make, but it seems unlikely that five diamonds is better, so I bid three notrump. Partner tables:


NORTH
♠ A 9 8 4
3
Q 10 7 5 3
♣ K Q 9






SOUTH
♠ Q 2
A 8 5
A K 9 8 6
♣ 6 5 3



West North East South
1 Pass 2
Pass 3 Pass 3 NT
(All pass)


So much for five diamonds not being better. Maybe I'm biased, but I think it was partner's job to steer us away from notrump. More on that later. West leads the ten of hearts and East plays the king. What is your plan?

----

Your legitimate line is to duck two rounds of hearts, hoping for a six-three split and a favorable lie in the black suits. Given the opponents' silence on an auction that was easy to enter, this seems unlikely. Since it appears that West has the heart queen and East the heart jack, neither opponent knows for sure that hearts are running. Perhaps you can exploit this fact by winning the first heart and sneaking a club through West. Even if this works, however, you have only eight tricks. You won't be able to sneak a second club through, since West can count that two club tricks will see you home. You will have to run diamonds and hope for something good in the endgame. Frankly, it's hard to see exactly what to hope for. The opponents will have to discard quite badly to give you any kind of chance. But it's happened before. I don't think it's my job to think up mistakes for my opponents to make. It's simply my job to give them the opportunity. When your legitimate chances are as slim as they are on this deal, I think you're better off playing for some kind of error. I win the first trick and play a club.

This time, it wasn't to be. West, aware that he has little chance to beat this unless he finds partner with the heart jack, hops with the club ace and plays hearts. Down one. The full deal:


NORTH
♠ A 9 8 4
3
Q 10 7 5 3
♣ K Q 9


WEST
♠ J 10 6 3
Q 10 9 4
J
♣ A J 10 8


EAST
♠ K 7 5
K J 7 6 2
4 2
♣ 7 4 2


SOUTH
♠ Q 2
A 8 5
A K 9 8 6
♣ 6 5 3



The auction and lead were identical at the other table, but declarer showed less disdain for his opponents by ducking the first two hearts. (And how could he not? After all, he's his own opponent.) Down one for a push. I note, by the way, that I seem to have misinterpreted Jack's convention card on the previous deal. Apparently, he doesn't lead second highest from an interior sequence. Oh, well. Now I know.

As far as the auction goes, I don't know why partner didn't bid his second suit over two diamonds. With a singleton in a major, I believe partner should make some effort to avoid three notrump. Perhaps he thought two spades creates a game force. I don't. I think if responder rebids two notrump or three diamonds, we can still stop below game. What would I do if partner had bid two spades? I probably shouldn't admit this, but I might have bid three notrump anyway. Before you flexers criticize this bid too much, tell me where you would want to be if you make partner's club king the spade king. But, for the sake of argument, let's say I bid three hearts, showing something in hearts but implying that I am unwilling to bid 3NT unless partner can offer some assistance in the suit. (One generally doesn't worry about the other minor after an inverted raise. One partner or the other rates to have the other minor well covered.) With no help in hearts, partner should now give up on notrump, and we are past our first hurdle.

I'm not going to comment on how the auction should go after that, because I don't have a clue. I've never understood how to bid when we're in game force but no one has limited his hand yet. Suffice it to say that, in the absence of a gross misunderstanding, we should settle in five diamonds sooner or later. If we do have a gross misunderstanding, I suppose we could settle in four diamonds, or six diamonds, or even four spades, depending on the precise level of grossness. If anyone has any suggestions for the remainder of the auction that don't involve anything too esoteric, please comment, especially if you can suggest a believable sequence that get us to five diamonds on this deal and to six if South has the spade king instead of the queen. (No, it's better than a finesse. East might lead the ace of clubs, and there are some squeeze chances, albeit remote ones. Add the jack of clubs to the South hand if it makes you feel better.)

Me -100
Jack -100

Score on Board 5: 0 IMPs
Total: +19 IMPs

4 comments:

  1. I play 2NT as forcing after an inverted raise . It allows opener to make 3 natural bids below 3NT. It's the same basis for the now common treatment that a 2C response to 1M opener can be a balanced hand

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a rule, 5431's improve substantially when opener's minor is voluntarily raised. Opener's 3D reraise was pointless, squandering bidding space and endplaying responder.
    PM's ruminations about game-forces with unlimited hands is accurate, and even informal partnerships should have some ready rules about auctions that show ace-extra hands. More serious (or compulsive) partnerships might look at Stansby-Martel's structure where opener's early rebids can limit opener as minimum unbalanced or balanced (although they are starting ahead of the game in weak no trump situations).

    ReplyDelete
  3. I use a Meckwellian approach after inverted raises. Next step shows a balanced hand. So over 1D-2D-2H NT can be declared from either side
    ( 2S is a relay to 2NT unless partner has one specific hand : 6+ diamonds balanced minimum). With concentrated Heart Diamond 2 suiter I would bid 1D-2D-2NT. With less concentrated values I would splinter ( 1D-2D-3D club shortness). The system is especially effective over 1C-2C cause now a 2D bid allows a natural major continuation so responder doesn't have to skew lengths in a GF auction.
    I do occasionally wrongside NT in a rare situation or 2 but it is more than compensated for by the ability to accurately describe all hands

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like to play a weak notrump system, and would define a 2S rebid by North as showing length, and not just a stopper. The 2S bid precludes 2NT as a final contract in my agreements, with auction forcing to 3 of agreed minor. With North holding any balanced hand, my agreements are to either open in notrump or rebid in notrump over the inverted raise.

    North's most likely distributions for the 2S rebid are his actual 4=1=5=3, 4=3=5=1, 4=2=5=2, or 4=1=4=4. Each of these distributions make notrump look dangerous to South, and so I do think that avoiding notrump looks probable. (With payoff to some short-suit strength holdings of North, which might have motivated him to have treated his hand as balanced, anyway.)

    My weak notrump partnerships do not have any agreements for this auction beyond above. I suspect whole auction might be 1D-2D-2S-3H (too strong for 3D, which could be passed) -3NT-4D-5D-P. With the SK you mention, North might cue 4S over the 4D call and we would reach 6D. Yes, you actually asked about South, not North, having the SK instead of the SQ. That's a pretty fine line, and I think I would miss 6D in that case, a result which is not too bothersome.

    ReplyDelete