What should I bid? (December 2018)

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What should I bid? (December 2018)

The best submission for December came from Charles Page. He wins a voucher of $30 funded by TBIB, toward any purchase made at the Bridge Shop or Paul Lavings Bridgegear.

Bd 7
All Vul
S Dealer
A 10 9 8 5 2
A J 6
K J
Q 9
 
K Q 7 6 3
9 3
Q 5 3 2
10 4
[ 7 ] J 4
10 5 2
7 6
J 8 7 6 3 2
 
K Q 8 7 4
A 10 9 8 4
A K 5
 

Matchpoints
 

West North East South
      1
1 X Pass 3
Pass 4NT Pass 5
Pass 7 All Pass  

South opened the bidding with 1. West overcalled 1 and North, thinking about a slam, decides to double to save bidding space. South now jumps to 3 to show a good hand, and North, thinking slam is now cold, decides to look for a grand slam by bidding 4NT RKBC for diamonds.
South bids 5 to show two key cards, what should North do now? Knowing that we have all keycards, and that South has shown extra strength with the jump to 3, North decides to jump to 7 thinking that at worst it is on a finesse.

West leads the king of spades.

(1) What bids should N have made?
(2) Is getting to a grand the right spot?

This was a club championship with 34 tables, so getting to slam will be par score

Thanks,
Charles

Hi Charles,

The vulnerability is important in this scenario. If EW were vul and NS not vul, then it would be more reasonable for North to pass and collect a penalty in 1X (i.e. if NS have a slam with +980, then they might get +1100 from 1X, but if NS only have a game [i.e. South may have a minimum opening hand], then you might get +500 instead of +420).

At other vulnerabilities, I would still likely prefer to pass with the North’s hand to try for a penalty, because there may only be a 5-3 heart fit (i.e. not that great of a fit to look for a slam as it would mean more heart losers for EW in 1X). IF North does not want to collect a penalty, then it would be best for North to bid 2 (cue raise) first than to double. Doubling first may save some bidding space, but it is a negative double showing both minors (typically), and it should deny heart support. Plus, if North wants to ask for key cards in the end, it would be better to be asking in hearts (to find out about the Q).

If North does not pass, my auction would probably be:

1 (1) 2 (now EW pass throughout)
3 4NT
6 6
?

2 is 3-card raise, 10+, 3 is Splinter (requires agreement), 4NT RKCB, and 6 shows 0/3 with a spade void (requires agreement). Now, 6 is sort of like a last train/queen ask, and now it gets difficult for NS to judge whether to be in a grand slam or not. Firstly, South knows that there is only a 5-3 fit (I like to play 2NT instead of 2 to show a 4-card raise) so it may be difficult to “draw trumps and ruff out diamonds”. Even when South bids 6 to show a spade void, North doesn’t know much about South’s hand except that South has a good hand, and if a diamond or club has to be ruffed in dummy, it may be with the HA. For example, South may have something like void KQTxxx Axx AJTx or maybe void KQxxx Axxx AKxx. These are reasonable hands for South to have, and I would not want to be in a grand slam with either of those hands (opposite the first, it is down to the club finesse, and opposite the second hand, you will have to ruff two minor suit losers and now the grand slam would require a 3-2 break, but ruffing a spade to get back to South’s hand may create a trump promotion for the defence as East might have Tx of trumps**).

** Say they lead SK, you win Ace pitch a club, K, J to A, ruff a diamond low (assume it lives), club to Ace, ruff diamond with J, unblock A, unblock Q, and now you need to ruff a spade to get back to South’s hand.

Now, another auction might be:

1 (1) 2 (now EW pass throughout)
3 3
4 4
4 4NT

South may want to introduce diamonds as there may be a better fit available than a 5-3 heart fit. After a series of cuebids, North may end up asking with 4NT and now it is pretty much the same/similar situation as before. If South ends up asking with 4NT, then it is equally difficult to diagnose to bid a grand slam, as South does not know about North’s KJ doubleton diamond (i.e. North could easily have have Kxx).

I won’t really discuss the auction if North chooses to make a negative double first – as I mentioned before, this would deny a heart fit, and now the rest of the auction would be very confusing as South is thinking diamonds is the trump suit, but North will be converting back to hearts etc.

Personally, I would be happy to get to a small slam even at a club championship, because quite likely a lot of tables may not get there, especially if it’s not an obvious pair of hands to get to a small slam. But as I mentioned before, my preference with the North’s hand would be to pass on the first turn to try for 1X. As you can see, 1X is not a pretty contract after repeated trump leads as West may only be restricted to three trump tricks! But if EW were not vul and NS were vul, then I would definitely bid 2 as going for a penalty may not be worth it.

Hope that helps!

Cheers,
Andy

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