Friday, January 8, 2010

Board 75

Board 75
Neither vulnerable

♠ Q 10 8 6 K Q 10 4 3 A K 2 ♣ K

I could try another offbeat one notrump opening, but this one looks a little too offbeat to me. I'll just open one heart and hope to produce a swing by exercising better judgment than Jack in the later auction.

Over one heart, partner responds two clubs, and I bid two spades. In old-fashioned Standard, two spades shows extras--not a lot of extras, just enough to create a game force opposite a two-over-one. Today, most practitioners of two-over-one game forcing play that two spades can be bid with a minimum. I prefer to stick to the old-fashioned agreement. It helps to narrow down opener's range a little. It also conveniently makes the auction

Opener
Responder
1
2 ♣
2 ♠
3 ♣


forcing.

The downside to playing this way is that you must use opener's two-heart rebid as a catch-all. If two spades can be bid with a minimum, then you are free to play that a two-heart rebid promises six. I personally don't find a catch-all two-heart rebid to be much of a hardship. In fact, I find it amusing that some people do, because it was one of the original selling points for playing five-card majors. Opener would never have to worry about preparing a rebid, they said. He could always rebid his major if he was stuck.

To my surprise, Jack seems to agree with me about this auction. He describes two spades as 15+ points, game forcing. Over two spades, Jack bids three spades.

There are essentially three schools of thought about how to raise in forcing auctions: (A) Fast arrival: four spades shows a minimum; three spades promises extras. (B) Picture bidding: four spades shows a minimum with good spades, good clubs, and no red-suit controls; three spades shows anything else. (C) Slow arrival: four spades shows extras; three spades ostensibly shows a minimum, although it may also be bid with a hand willing to drive to the five level.

(B) makes the least sense to me, since it makes the three spade raise almost meaningless. I think slam bidding becomes very difficult if you simply define bids as "forcing" without assigning them a narrow range. Personally, I prefer (C) to (A), partly because it gives you three ranges instead of just two. Also, there are other auctions where slow arrival is demonstrably better (e.g., when strain is still in double), so I prefer to make it a universal agreement for consistency.

If opener's two spade bid shows extras, responder doesn't need much to bid four spades playing (C). The definition of four spades is a hand not quite worth driving to the five level. With 16 support points, responder would usually be willing to drive to the five level, so I should think that four spades should show about 14-15 support points.  If Jack and I were playing this way, I would simply bid four spades over three spades, since I have little interest in slam opposite a complete minimum. (I needn't worry about the hand where partner intends to bid again himself.)

Jack, however, disagrees with me on the slow/fast arrival question. He plays (A), so his three spade bid show does some slam interest. Even though I have more in high cards than I need for two spades, I don't have a very good hand for slam purposes. My trumps are weak, I have only one key card, and I have a singleton (albeit the king) in partner's suit. I decide I'm worth one cooperative move, but if partner can't take over and drive to slam after that, I'm giving up.

Since I'm only making one move, it seems right to bid four diamonds, showing my control in the unbid suit. The king of partner's suit is frequently an important card, but cue-bidding with this hand it may cause partner to over-value his club queen. On the other hand, partner may be stymied if he doesn't know about the diamond control.  I bid four diamonds, partner bids four spades, and I pass.

Note how important it is that our bids have well-defined ranges.  If we were playing (B), particularly if we were also playing that my two spades could be bid with a minimum, I could hardly bid four diamonds and give up over partner's four spades, since I have considerably more than I might.  Some practitioners of Eastern Science Fiction try to solve this problem by playing that, once a major has been agreed, three notrump shows a serious slam try and a cue-bid is simply giving partner a chance in case he has extras. This strikes me as a kludge.  If you need a bid like this in your repertoire, it simply means that your earlier auction is insufficiently defined.  And I'm not sure how much the kludge even helps.  If two spades and three spades can both be bid with just about anything, I doubt two types of slam tries are sufficient.

Enough ranting. Against four spades, West leads the jack of diamonds.


NORTH
♠ A K J 2
9
Q 7 3
♣ Q 8 7 6 2






SOUTH
♠ Q 10 8 6
K Q 10 4 3
A K 2
♣ K



West
North
East
South
1
Pass
2 ♣
Pass
2 ♠
Pass
3 ♠
Pass
4
Pass
4 ♠
(All pass)


Not a bad auction.  Perhaps they will get to five spades at the other table, which could easily go down. Note, for the record, we would have had a very easy auction had I opened one notrump.

I win with the queen in dummy and lead the nine of hearts. East plays the eight. It looks right to play low. If this loses to the jack and a diamond comes back (assuming it isn't ruffed), I can win, ruff a heart, draw trumps (in four rounds if necessary), and drive the heart ace.

I play low. West wins with the ace and cashes the club ace, on which East plays the four. He continues with the jack of clubs. I play the queen, East plays the five, and I pitch a heart. I cash the spade ace--three--six--nine. Now that the nine of spades has fallen, I can claim the rest: Deuce of spades to the eight, ruff the ten of hearts with the king, jack of spades to the queen, and my hand is high. Making five.


NORTH
♠ A K J 2
9
Q 7 3
♣ Q 8 7 6 2


WEST
♠ 9
A 7 2
J 10 5 4
♣ A J 10 9 3


EAST
♠ 7 5 4 3
J 8 6 5
9 8 6
♣ 5 4


SOUTH
♠ Q 10 8 6
K Q 10 4 3
A K 2
♣ K



The auction and lead are the same at the other table. Declarer takes a different approach to the play, however. He wins the diamond in his hand and leads the king of clubs. West wins with the ace and leads the jack of clubs. Declarer wins in dummy, pitching a low diamond. He ruffs a club to his hand, and it's East's turn to pitch a diamond. Declarer cashes a second diamond before East can pitch any more of them. He then leads the heart king. West wins and plays a diamond--queen--ruff--overruff. Declarer crossruffs to take the rest. Making five.

Me: +450
Jack: +450

Score on Board 75: 0 IMPs
Total: -135 IMPs

6 comments:

  1. Schools of thought discussions like the one today are very helpful. Perhaps the competing ideas and their tradeoffs are obvious to better players and players who've been around long enough to see 2/1 ideas evolve. But they are not obvious at all to intermediates just learning 2/1 or even intermediates who have played 2/1 for a few years.

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  2. I am not a fan of 1M-2X,2M to show 6 because it comes up on <20% of hands where you open 1M, while using it as a catchall frequently saves space.

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  3. Hi, Phillip,

    Is your adverse view of "picture bidding" treatment in a game forcing 2/1 auction affected by a partnership's coupling such treatment with "serious 3NT" (or "nonserious 3NT") cue bidding?

    I really appreciate your blog, which has become part of my daily bridge fix. Your blog is a great mix of entertainment and education. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jeffrey,

    I might be better disposed to treatments like that if they were better defined. Subjective definitions like "serious" and "non-serious" worry me. It strikes me as about as effective as playing, say, subjective Blackwood, where 4NT asks you to rate your hand for slam purposes on a scale of 1 to 4. I suppose a convention like that might actually work for a partnership with good instincts who are perfectly in tune with each other. But I'm the first to admit my instincts and tuning are poor. I like definition.

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  5. I don't know if this is the best agreement or not, but in my partnerships the working agreement for "serious 3NT" is a king above an opening bid, and so cue bids when serious 3NT was an alternative show less than a king over an opening bid. However, even with that agreement, a bid of 3S over an agreement of suit of 3H is ambiguous: a serious 3NT over 3H agreement denies SA or SK.

    We use that same agreement -- king above a minimum -- for similar auctions, such as distinguishing between weaker 1S-2C gf-2D-2S and stronger 1S-2C gf-2D-3S (where 4S instead would be the minimum "picture bid").

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  6. I play 2C as a catchall bid over 1M . Either Clubs or Balanced . I save space by having opener rebid 2D either Diamonds or balanced. Any further rebid by responder other than 2NT( regardless of opener's 2 Lvl rebid) guarantees real Clubs . So in effect the auction goes 1M-2C-2x-2NT as if the auction had gone 1M-2NT old fashioned and opener has a chance to make a third descriptive bid below 3NT . I use next step balanced over inverted minors as well. This allows responder to freely make an inverted raise in Clubs holding a 4 card major since opener will bid 2D on balanced hands allowing you to easily show the major. In Diamond auctions I have the ability to play NT from either side as 1D-2D-2H-2S is a relay to 2NT ala Meckwell methods . This allows me to differentiate shortness vs length auctions by responder at the 3 lvl

    ReplyDelete