Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Board 41

Board 41 (Click to download pbn file)
Opponents vulnerable

♠ K J A K Q 10 6 5 4 -- ♣ A 10 5 2

Two passes to me. I open one heart. With nine playing tricks, I suppose I could open two clubs, but I try not to do that unless I have to. Two-club auctions tend to be awkward. LHO bids four clubs, and partner bids four hearts. I have no idea if I can make slam or not and no intelligent way to invite.  I like my chances if partner has the ace of spades.  If he doesn't, I'll need good enough trump spots that East will be unable to overruff as I ruff clubs in the dummy.  This is the kind of decision where Jack actually has an advantage.  He can deal out random hands and see what works out most often.  My internal random-hand generator isn't up to that task when I hold a freak.  In the end, my reasoning is no more sophisticated than this: "Partner was willing to play game opposite a mere opening bid, and I have a game force.  Therefore, I'm bidding a slam."

I bid six hearts, and LHO leads the king of clubs. It's over quickly. East ruffs the opening lead, and I take the rest. Making six:

♠ A Q
8 7 3 2
10 9 7 6 5 4
♣ 9

♠ 10 4
♣ K Q J 8 7 6 4 3

♠ 9 8 7 6 5 3 2
A Q 8 3 2
♣ --

♠ K J
A K Q 10 6 5 4
♣ A 10 5 2

4 ♣
(All pass)

At the other table, my hand opens with two clubs, and West bids three clubs. Jack frequently surprises me in competitive auctions. Why take it easy on the opponents when they don't have their suit in the auction yet? If you can bid four clubs over a one-heart opening, I should think you would bid five clubs over a two-club opening. North bids three diamonds, a questionable choice. With an ace-queen opposite a two-club opening, he knows he's in the slam zone, so he should be hesitant to introduce a suit containing no high cards. Instead, he should pass and give his partner a chance to indicate what his two-club opening was based on.  Pass does not deny a good hand; it simply denies an opinion about strain.

Over three diamonds, South bids three notrump, another questionable choice. It's certainly possible that three notrump is making and four hearts isn't, but North could have further ambitions, and three notrump grossly misdescribes South's hand.

As it happens, North does have further ambitions.  He bids four hearts, his second suit, so to speak. This is the fourth bid in a row I disapprove of, yet they've managed to reach hearts from the North hand. If they get to a grand, they're going to make it.  I guess I should stop criticizing.

South bids four notrump, which is apparently key-card Blackwood, although I should think, given the three notrump bid on the previous round, that it should be natural. North bids five hearts to show his ace, and South bids five spades, asking about the queen of trumps. I know from earlier deals that Jack shows the queen whenever he has an extra trump. I don't think that's a sensible agreement. I think you need to know your side has ten trumps before you show a queen you don't have. But, given Jack's agreement, he is presumably trying to discover if has partner has a fifth trump.  I'm not sure what good that knowledge would do him, since he doesn't even know which ace his partner has.  Maybe Jack is just practicing.  North bids five notrump, denying the queen, and South settles for six hearts.

West North East South
Pass Pass 2 ♣1
3 ♣ 3 Pass 3 NT
Pass 4 Pass 4 NT2
Pass 5 3 Pass 5 ♠4
Pass 5 NT5 Pass 6
(All pass)
2Ace asking for hearts
31 or 4 aces
4Asking for queen of trumps
5No trump queen

They make seven, winning an IMP for their care in reaching hearts from the right side of the table.

I was curious what would happen if West bids five clubs over the two-club opening, so I replayed the board to see. North makes a penalty double, South passes, and North finds the diamond lead to go plus 1100. Good thing the opponents aren't always this tough. I wouldn't stand a chance in this match.

Me: +980
Jack: +1010

Score on Board 41: -1 IMP
Total: +95 IMPs

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