Sunday, March 27, 2011

Match 2 - Board 47

Board 47
Our side vulnerable

♠ A Q J 8 7 4 6 5 4 A 3 ♣ 6 4

I open one spade in first seat. Partner bids two notrump, showing a game-forcing raise. Didn't we just have this auction? Almost. This time RHO chimes in with three clubs.

If RHO had passed, I would have bid three spades. This is a minimum in high cards. But with six good spades and four controls, this hand is too good just to bid four spades. There are variety of ways to handle interference after Jacoby Two Notrump. But, as far as I know, there is no standard consensus. Personally, it makes sense to me to play that pass denies a singleton or void, new suits are natural, rebidding your suit shows shortness in the overcalled suit, and double shows a semi-balanced hand with shortness in some other suit. (Partner can find out where your shortness is by passing and seeing which suit you lead.)

Whatever Jack thinks my bids mean, he surely can't be misled too much if I just pass. So I do. Partner bids four spades. If that's all he can do, I have nothing further to say. I pass again, and West leads the queen of clubs.


NORTH
♠ K 10 6 5
A K Q 3
K 9 6
♣ K 8






SOUTH
♠ A Q J 8 7 4
6 5 4
A 3
♣ 6 4



West North East South
1 ♠
Pass 2 NT1 3 ♣ Pass
Pass 4 ♠ (All pass)
1At least fourcard support, gameforcing

Wow! I'm happy not to be in a slam, but it does seem partner gave up awfully quickly. What should he have bid? If I hadn't just put Blackwood back on the card, I would say partner should jump to four notrump (natural and non-forcing) and I should pass. How's that for an auction? A perfectly straight-forward, quantitative slam exploration ending in exactly the right spot!

Since we've handicapped ourselves by disallowing a natural four notrump bid, this hand presents a problem. How do you issue a strong invitation while suggesting that notrump, not spades, is the right strain? Frankly, I can't think of an intelligent auction. Since I know from opener's pass that he doesn't have a complete minimum, I would probably just drive to slam. We would wind up in six notrump, which depends on three-three hearts or some unlikely squeeze possibilities. I suppose it's just as well partner held that hand rather than me.

Is there anything to the play in four spades? If I duck the club, perhaps East will think the queen is a singleton and will overtake to try to give his partner a ruff. I play low, and East plays the deuce (upside-down attitude). My card hardly matters. I randomly choose the six.

To my surprise, West shifts to the jack of hearts. I play the ace--deuce--four. It didn't take long for me to regret my play of the club six. If West guards hearts, I have the matrix for a double squeeze. But for the squeeze to operate, the club threat must be in my hand. Dummy's club king, being in front of East, is useless as a threat. So the squeeze will work only if West actually did begin with a singleton queen of clubs or if he began with queen-three doubleton. Had I not squandered my six, the squeeze would also work if West began with queen-five doubleton. Sigh. Keep winners; throw losers. When will I learn?

Too late now. I cash dummy's ten of spades; everyone follows. On the king of spades, East pitches the five of clubs. I am so happy to see that card! If I were East, I would torture declarer by holding onto it as long as possible. I cash the king and queen of hearts, on which East pitches the seven and nine of clubs. Now I run spades. West unguards diamonds, so East keeps his diamond stopper and throws all his clubs away, establishing my four. Making six.


NORTH
♠ K 10 6 5
A K Q 3
K 9 6
♣ K 8


WEST
♠ 9 2
J 10 9 8 7
10 8 5 4
♣ Q 3


EAST
♠ 3
2
Q J 7 2
♣ A J 10 9 7 5 2


SOUTH
♠ A Q J 8 7 4
6 5 4
A 3
♣ 6 4


This is not a top. One pair bid and made six notrump. East really led a club? I don't see how else declarer could have made it. Actually, most pairs were in slam, which isn't too surprising. Two pairs were down one in six spades, and one was down two doubled in six hearts. So simply staying out of slam was worth eight matchpoints. The extra overtrick is worth an additional two.

Presumably West shifted to a heart because he thought his partner might be void. And he might be. Jack's attitude signals indicate nothing more than whether or not he has an honor in the suit led. So the presence of a heart void would not cause him to signal any differently. How would a more sophisticated East signal a heart void?

First, let's assume right-side up signals. Some people play that a middle card is encouraging and that extreme cards are suit preference. Personally, I like to restrict three-way signals to situations where you are presumed to have six or more cards in the suit led. But, for this to work, you must have clear agreements about when six or more cards is presumed. My notes say that any three-level or higher overcall qualifies. So, by my rules, three-way signals apply here. I would play the seven to encourage, the deuce to request a diamond shift, and the jack to request a heart shift.

If I hadn't overcalled, three-way signals would not apply. I would play the nine (my highest spot card) to encourage, the deuce to request the obvious shift, and the jack as an alarm-clock to suggest an unusual shift. By sheer coincidence, this unusual shift is to the higher ranking side suit. But it needn't be. If dummy's red suits were reversed, the deuce would ask for the "obvious" heart shift, and the jack would ask for the unusual diamond shift. The reason for this is that you don't always have an alarm clock signal available. So you want to use the alarm clock to send whichever message you are least likely to want to send.

Playing upside-down, three-way signal work differently. You should play that your lowest card always encourages, even in a three-way situation. So the deuce requests a club continuation whether you are presumed to have six clubs or not. You can now use a middle card to request the lower-ranking suit and a high card to request the higher-ranking suit. This way, you needn't be so worried about whether you are on the same wavelength. Even if one of you thinks this is a three-way situation and the other doesn't, there is no ambiguity about the meaning of the deuce. The extra clarity upside-down signals gives to three-way situations is, I find, one of the major benefits to using them.

Why not play this way when playing right-side-up signals? Why not play high to encourage and middle or low for suit-preference? Because it is sometimes hard to tell whether partner's card is middle or high. The continue-or-shift message is the one you are most concerned about getting across. If partner knows you want a shift but can't tell for sure which suit you want led, he can sometimes use other clues to solve his problem.

Result on Board 47: +680 (10 MP)
Total: 372 MP (66.0 %)

Current Rank: 1st

5 comments:

  1. 4S seems to me to be a reasonable call over the 3C overcall, showing 6 spades and a minimum. North would be able to see the probability of five level safety and the possibility of there still being a slam and so could next bid 4NT, presumptively keycard for spades. With a two key cards with queen response, partner can count 11 tricks and can be no worse than a finesse for a twelfth. To protect a minor suit king, the rebid would be 6NT. Doesn't happen to make on the actual lie of the cards, but that is a little on the unlucky side: not only is CA offside but partner has the SJ instead of the HJ or minor suit queen. I would be content, I think.

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  2. I like the general method you propose for dealing with interference. I would also suggest that 4M, if a jump, show a minimum with a 6-card suit and no control in the suit of the overcall. I would also propose that, after opener doubles the interference, responder doubles any runout with 3 or more cards, or passes with 2. Opener will elect to defend with at least 6 trumps.

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  3. "Partner can find out where your shortness is by passing and seeing which suit you lead."
    Brilliant.

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  4. LOL did you steal that method of handling interference from me? Or I from you ? Never seen anyone else use it . Hardly a coincidence .

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  5. I don't remember where I got this method. Maybe I did get it from you. But, as logical as it is, I, too, have never run into anyone else who uses it.

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