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Avoiding problems at the table
Friday 21st June, 5.00pm
After the last hand posted here, where I talked about the correct bidding that got us to the makeable 6 Clubs, that nobody else bid, I suppose it was to be expected that I should immediately thereafter bid the wrong slam, or in any case the one that cannot be made, which is exactly what happened So I will try to justify our bidding sequence.
Board 2 from the Twin Red set we played on Wednesday, a Match Point night. I was West and held
♠ K Q J 9
♥ 7 4
♦ A 8 3
♣ K 10 5 4
My partner opened 1♥ and I responded 1♠. Now partner bids 3♣. That is showing 16+ high card points and a 5 – 4 minimum shape. My thirteen points seem to be in the other suits, but we do have a fit in clubs. As usual it is not 100% clear where we should play and I decide to bid 3♦. My LHO doubles and partner bids 3♥.
My partner has at the most 4 cards out with her two suits, if we have all four aces, we have no losers in those suits, sometimes called the pointed suits.
I have two of her hearts, therefore at least seven between us and the outstanding hearts are favourite to break 4 - 2. It may be possible to concede one heart or one club and make the small slam However we will need all the Aces to counter the diamond double. Indeed, the double is a good thing for us as it is now more certain that my partners 16+ points are in her suits. None wasted in diamonds, with hopefully 4 points outside in the shape of the Spade Ace.
If I try Blackwood at this stage, we have no agreed suit and the response should revert to Aces only. So, I try 4NT and get 5♠ in reply. Hoping my partner does not have 2 aces and the Q of some suit I bid 6♣. Note if we are an ace short, we can stop in 5 hearts.
My partner had good look at the 6♣ but decided to pass.
The full hand is
♠ 7 6 5
♥ Q 8 5 3
♦ K Q 10 6 4
♠ K Q J 9 ♠ A
♥ 7 4 ♥ A K J 10 9 6
♦ A 8 3 ♦ J 9
♣ K 10 5 4 ♣ A 9 8 7
♠ 10 8 4 3 2
♦ 7 5 2
♣ Q J 6 3
Reviewing the bidding, I agree that it is not a strong heart opener or a 2♣ opener. If she had elected to bid 3♥ over my 1♠, then that would have caused us to miss the club fit. Indeed, the vast majority of you played in 4 hearts. Equally without the club fit I have no real reason to bid past 4. I would not have had a chance to find out about the diamond suit and she could easily have the Q♦ and poorer hearts. The 4/1 split in clubs and the 4 -1 split in hearts sinks the club slam but leaves 6♥ afloat.
There I have ate my humble pie - Ba Humbug
You are East, dealer and not Vulnerable. It is an aggregate tournament.
♠ A Q 5
♥ A J 7 4
♦ A Q J 9 7 2
You have 18 points, and are a long way off a 2♣ opener even although, if you find a fit, you have first round control in all the suits. So most will open 1♦. Your partner responds with 2♣ , surprise surprise.
You now have to decide on your next bid.
3♦ is classically non forcing and shows 16 points and 6 diamonds. Also you realise that partner has no 4 card major and probably keen to repeat their clubs.
A No trump bid is completely unacceptable.
A bid of 2♥ shows 16 plus points, and is game forcing, (a reverse after a two level bid is always game forcing). You now would expect a 3♣ from your partner and you could then bid 3NT, or, a 2♠ bid 4th suit forcing and asking. So 2♥ it is, getting you off the hook for now.
Partner now bids Stop 3NT. They could have bid 2NT – you have forced to game. After forcing to game the partnership should play fast arrival is weak, slow arrival is strong. So in this case 2NT would be stronger than 3NT. You take 3NT to be 10 – 12 points and importantly a spade stop and 2 or three diamonds, but not 4.
With a void or singleton diamond West would have circled the wagons and left the final contract to you.
So no spade losers, good prospects that the slam in diamonds will rest on a heart or diamond finesse. In old parlance you have an eight or nine card trump fit. You have 28 to 30 points with a six card suit. On the bidding you are extremely unlikely to get a heart lead and you are stronger than advertised. You have no need to know whether your partner has an A and anyway the trump suit is unknown to your partner and so you bid 6♦ . Your partner gives that an old fashioned look but passes.
The full hand is:
♠ J 10 6 4 2
♥ K 9 2
♦ 10 4
♣ J 8 5
♠ K 8 7 ♠ A Q 5
♥ 8 3 ♥ A J 7 4
♦ 6 3 ♦ A Q J 9 7 2
♣ A K Q 10 7 4 ♣ -
♠ 9 3
♥ Q 10 6 5
♦ K 8 5
♣ 9 6 3 2
and ♠ 9 is led.
Luckily it is Aggregate, so just make the contract, keeping the spade K for later, you win with ♠ A, lay down ♦ A and follow with ♦ Q. South wins and ♦ 10 shows from N. You win the return draw the last trump and claim.
It pays to bid slowly, giving partner room to describe their hand. Trusting your partner to know what is forcing and what is not.
Only two pairs bid any slam and the other pair bid 6NT which could be beaten with a heart lead. (It was not Match Points.)
♠ K 7 ♠ A Q 6 5
♥ K J 7 3 ♥ A 10 6 5
♦ Q J 2 ♦ A 6 3
♣ A 9 7 4 ♣ Q 2
West opens 1NT and North overcalls 2♠. Which shows spades and a minor. Both sides are vulnerable, so as East what do you say?
Most people play: - your partner has made a limit bid and any new suit is non-forcing. Transfers are off and doubles are for penalty. The only forcing bid is 3♠. However, that would, initially, ask partner if they had a stop in spades for 3NT. In this case, you have that, and if partner does not he will bid his suit, which is probably Clubs. Both sides are vulnerable and a double is very tempting, with 12 – 14 points for the opener and no long suit in your hand a slam is unlikely. It would be nice to find partner with 4 hearts, but Norths bid says they are likely to break bad. So East bid 3NT which is passed out.
North leads the 5♦ and west lets than run around to the 8 and Q.
You have 3 spades, 3 hearts, two diamonds and one club you are home. In teams you will play hearts to guarantee the third heart. So, with shortage on your left you play a heart to A and finesse the J on the way back, North discards a small spade.
North’s mildly eccentric vulnerable 2 spades was based on 8 points. Let us see if we can extract some punishment. Surely, they must have K♣, so a club towards the Q and the K jumps up.
Ever hopeful North tries a second diamond, which is run to your J. The Q was played at trick one on the bases that if you do not give the opposition a chance to make a mistake they just will not do it.
Our attention now swings to South whom started with 4 hearts and 5 clubs. We now have 3 spades, 3 hearts, 3 diamonds and two clubs tricks. We have lost one trick and are going to squeeze South for another trick.
♥ K 7 ♥ 10 6
♦ 2 ♦ A
♣ A 9 7 ♣ Q
♥ Q 9
♣ 10 8 6 5
We just have to play off the tricks in the correct order.
A small club to Q, the diamond A then the spade back to the K, Now the club A discarding a heart. Now the A of spades, and on the Q of spades we have
♠ ♠ Q 6
♥ K 7 ♥ 10
♣ 9 ♣
No further counting is required, no studying of the pips all you need to see is whether it is a heart south discards or not, if not throw the ♥7 and if it is, then throw the ♣9.
North was heard to say “perhaps I shouldn’t have overcalled.”
♠ A K 2
♥ 8 4
♦ A K 8 5
♣ Q 9 3 2
♠ 9 7 6 4 ♠ Q 8 5
♥ Q 9 7 3 ♥ K 10 6 2
♦ 9 7 2 ♦ J 3
♣ 10 5 ♣ J 8 7 4
♠ J 10 3
♥ A J 5
♦ Q 10 6 4
♣ A K 6
North opens 1 Diamond, I have no good bid and decide to make a waiting bid of 2 Clubs. This “kind of” backfires when North responds 3 Clubs.
I think this is not a minimum hand else why not open 1NT, too shapely? I have to find out more so I bid 3H, my partner will know this is a 3NT try and not a suit, I would have bid 1H with 4 in the suit, long before bidding a 5-card minor.
I get a 3NT response showing 1½ to 2 stops in spades. Now it is decision time. North sounds like a strongish hand, or a weaker one but with 5 – 4 in the minors or 4 cards in the majors If N is 3 1 in spades and hearts we have probably only one loser in the majors. I hope with my holding in the minors we have no minor losers. I’m going to back my judgement so I bid 6 D.
From the insert table my judgment was correct and we were the only pair to bid it. However a 31 point slam is not going to be easy.
You have 2S + 1H + 4D + 3C and one ruff to give 11 tricks, one shy.
A spade finesse or clubs breaking kindly will give the contract, that is a 50% for the spade and 36% for the club, you must try the club before taking the finesse. OR, a black suit squeeze against either opponent. You have no idea against whom but that does not matter as the squeeze will be of the automatic nature. I.e. split threats which you have, the play, will be about entries / communication.
A spade lead gives the contract right away, a heart lead allows you to duck at trick one and rectify the count, the most difficult lead turns out to be a club.
Club lead, win with the A (you need the Q later) now the A and then Q of diamonds, the suit breaks. Spade A, Now Heart A and another heart. It really does not mater what they do now. A club return, win with K, ruff a heart high, play spade K overtake the small diamond and throw the 2 spades on the last diamond.
You are in dummy with Spade J and club 6. And in your own hand you have the club Q 9.
What two cards has east kept. If the spade Q has not shown, then, has there been a club discard? In this case East has thrown a club and even though West shows out you get the last two tricks.
Not so easy at the table.
Hand 6 on Monday night appears to have caused a few South a play problem.
East was dealer and passed.
South might be tempted to open 1 but 2 shows the hand better but is as good as it comes.
This will appear to cause West a problem, dependent on the West you are playing against, they will either Double, bid 3 or eventually pass. North will now bid 3. When this comes around to South they will be left wondering whether this is pre-emptive, which is the normal in most partnerships or quantitative. If quantitative South has maximum and should bid 4.
The 2-spade opener has backfired as it has left NS out of control. It is definitely unacceptable for you to take advantage of your partners hesitation, but perfectly correct to take advantage of any hesitation made by the opposition. Thus, your partner knows his cards are lying behind strength and only bids 3, it is trust your partner time and you should pass.
With the hesitation, bid or double the hand is quite easy to play.
West starts with A and you decline to be rushed.
We do not wish to ruff on the table as our best chance of avoiding a spade loser is to find the suit breaking 2 - 3.
You have two clubs and two diamonds to lose, plus a heart and perhaps a spade. There are 19 points missing and we are inclined to put 14+ with our LHO. So, West has at the most 5 points. We need to concentrate in counting his hand, we are highly hopeful that West has the A, If so then there is room in East’s hand for heart Q or diamond K.
At this point we decide that the first card we are going to play when in is 10.
Now we play 5 etc, West continues with K East playing upwards, and, after some thought, west continues with a third club, East playing the Q you mentally note that East has only 3 points left. You ruff and immediately play the heart.
Now it does not matter what West does. Plays the A you will play two rounds of trump, cash the heart K, ruff a heart, draw the last trump and play a small diamond towards the Jack, 9 tricks.
If west does not take the ace go up with the K, now play a heart and rough, a small spade to the K and a second round of spades and ruff a third-round heart. Draw the last trump and play a small diamond towards the table, losing two clubs and the diamond K as the hearts broke as did the spades.
So, 140 or 170 seems like the par score for the board. So how come as defenders we got 10% when our declarer made 9 tricks.
Hand 17 on Monday night (23 Oct) annoyed me. I broke several of my personnel little rules and got 31% for my troubles.
North deals and passes. East opens 1♠ which shuts me up. West passes. Your partner decides to protect your pass with a bid of 2♦. East passes so round to you.
Now I am a firm believer in, if you are in a hole - stop digging, but decided that 2NT would be better than 2♦ the trouble with most rescue operations your partner is unaware of your chivalry and, as I should have expected, bid 3NT
The 5♣ is led, and dummy goes down -
♠ Q 9
♥ 9 8
♦ A J 10 4 3
♣ K 8 6 3
♠ J 10 7 6 2
♥ A K 6
♣ A J 10 4
The club lead gives you at least 3 club tricks, to add to your two hearts and one diamond, and you can set up two spades leaving you one short, at this point I failed to cover the 5 with the 6 blowing the immediate chance of a fourth club when East discards 6♦.
You need to set about establishing the Spade tricks immediately and lead a spade to the ♠Q, West following with the ♠ 3. East switches to hearts, playing the ♥ 2, you rise with the ♥K and West plays the ♥3. You continue with a spade to the ♠9, which is allowed to hold, West discarding 2♣. You get back to your hand with a club to the ♣A, East discarding the ♥ 4♥. You lead ♠ J West reluctantly discards a diamond and you throw a diamond from dummy. East wins and plays the ♥ 5 - crunch time - do you win? Alternatively, do you duck? If you win, what do you do next?
You do not have a perfect count, BUT if the hearts are breaking 4 - 4, then West started with 5 clubs, 4 hearts, one spade and three diamonds and has 2 clubs, three hearts and two diamonds left.
West started with 5 spades, and, if the hearts divide, 4 hearts and 4 diamonds, and has left, two spades two hearts and three diamonds.
The question is, it's Match point scoring, you will get 31% for going one off, 16% for going two off and 98% for making it, So what are the odds for East have held at the beginning exactly 4 hearts to the Q, or three to the Q, to hold the "Marriage" in diamonds. There is every room on the bidding and play for east to have started with 5 hearts to the Q or Q to 4, and you will have to guess on the position of the diamond Q.
The cards lay like this -
♠ - -
♥ 9 -
A J 10 4 -
♣ K 8 - -
♠ - ♠ - - 8 5 -
♥ J 10 7 - ♥ Q 5 - -
♦ 8 7 - ♦ K Q 9 -
♣ Q 9 - - - ♣ -
♠ - 10 7 - -
♥ A - 6
♣ - J - 4
In aggregate or teams the play is easy. Win with the A and return the heart 6 discarding the club 8. In again, East has to give you an extra spade or two extra diamonds. Assume East leads the K, then win with the A and return the J hoping East has the Q, or duck the K and east can trap his own or his partner's Q or give you the spade finesse.
I went lamely one down. Not my night.
Board 22 on Monday night, 8th Aug, proved challenging for some players to bid their slam.
Here are the North South hands.
♠ Q J
♥ K Q J 7
♦ 6 4 3
♣ J 7 6 2
♠ A K 9 4
♥ A 4
♦ A K 10 7 5 2
East, the dealer Passes.
South, with 22 points and 6 quick tricks opens 2C, game force. The requirement of a game force opener is 23 points or 5 quick tricks.
For such a benign hand, it is strange that North's choice of bid is so important.
Those of you who elected to use 2D - negative will have difficulty catching up.
The requirement of a positive is as little as an A and K or 8 points. I.e. 7 points is ok if they are made up of an A and a K.
Bidding 2H would imply 5 cards in that suit.
North's hand has 10 points and is flat and aceless. This is a standard ACOL bid of 2NT, showing 10+ aceless points and a flat hand. This is exactly what North has.
South, looking at a three loser hand, and a partner with at least two diamonds has no problem in bidding the small slam, but needs a mechanism to find if his partner has the ♦ Q to allow the grand to be bid. (Note the diamonds broke two/two and 7 is made, but that is a 50.1% chance and not one worth taking)
If North opts for 2D the bidding is likely to proceed.
P 2♣ P 2♦
P 3♦ P 3♥
P 3♠ P ??
3NT has the touch of the Hideous Hog about it, 4D is slam invitation and implies a first round control somewhere, 5D is just giving in, and, an end of the evening and I want to go home bid.
Us old style ACOL players would remember the old ACOL bid of 2NT, showing 10+ ace-less points and a flat hand, that is, if it was not for creeping senility, and the bid does not come up every year.
I do not normally talk about bidding as everyone has his or her own style. However, I have noticed a distinct reluctance to use the redouble as part of your armoury in the first round of bidding. I know the style these days is to bid a new suit, forcing, jump in a weak suit and only redouble when neither applies, so the use of the bid is much less.
I thought it might be worthwhile to review the bid.
- 1H x xx,
So what does the xx mean?
It shows 10 or more points perhaps shaded to nine.
It usually means little enthusiasm for hearts, it also promises to speak again. The minimum holding would be something like -
♠ A J 9 7 ♥ 10 4 ♦ K 10 8 ♣ Q 10 9 6
Now let us return to opener's hand, the bidding sequence is the same for all the examples below.
- 1H x xx 2C ?
a) ♠ A 7 ♥ A Q 8 7 2 ♦ K 9 8 6 ♣ 6 5
Pass: You have your opener and you cannot double Clubs. Let your partner decide, you have a misfit, defending with a misfit is much more fun than playing with one.
b) ♠ A K 7 ♥ K Q 10 9 2 ♦ A 9 8 6 ♣ 2
Pass: Game for you is likely, not certain; if partner doubles, you are going to get a big score. Note bidding 2D would show a sub minimum point count. Partner has promised to bid again.
c) ♠ 8 4 ♥ A K 7 6 4 ♦ A 5 ♣ K 9 3 2
Double: "Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly". Partner is short of hearts, as will dummy, Partner will be in the uppercut position.
d) ♠ 9 ♥ K 9 8 6 5 2 ♦ A Q J 6 4 ♣ 7
2♦ : You are underweight in the high card department, your bid was a perfectly normal weak ACOL opener - note - not a weak two, it is better than that. However, it needs to be played in a red suit and you must tell your partner that it is weak and of no use in defence.
e) ♠ J 7 4 ♥ A K Q 10 9 5 ♦ J 9 5 ♣ 6
2♥: To my mind you should have opened a week 2, you have 9 working points, and perhaps one defensive trick, however some partners prefer you to go down rather than open 2H with more than 10 points. That aside the bid shows a weak hand with an excellent suit, and it will play with a dummy void in hearts.
Hand c is the only hand where the bid is different if your RHO passes. In c) you would pass.
Bye the bye, if your partner is the doubler and is redoubled, then - if you bid, it is not a free bid, discuss this with your partner. Let us give you.
♠ x x x ♥ x x x x ♦ x x x ♣ x x x
Your partner is going to bid spades; your pass says you are weak weak weak.
Your partner is going to be doubled.
If you bid spades, they will think you have a fit and may not wish to double, your partner must realise that this is a probability / possibility.
♠ x ♥ x x x x ♦ x x ♣ x x x x x x
You must bid 2C, you must tell partner not to bid on.
I said at the beginning that a redouble by you promises another bid. So
Pass Pass 2C ?
You promised your partner another bid so a pass here from you says, I still do not like your hearts, I really hoped they would bid another suit, I do not know where best to play. Partner with 13 points, 5 hearts and 5 clubs will double for penalties. With 15 points will bid 3NT with a double stop in clubs or will bid 3 clubs to find out more.