Extreme Bridge #5: It’s Not Your Birthday, But It Could Be Slam Time! — Part II
Yes, it’s time for yet another Bridge Fanatic Special!
Extreme Bridge #5: It’s Not Your Birthday, But It Could Be Slam Time! — Part II
This is the second part of a recent problem. I got delayed by the U.S. pot mania! As soon as I turn on my computer, I get even higher than my usual stratospheric bidding takes me. Huge amounts of web pot smoke spew out continuously. During bizdays, it is even more EXTREME! I get high even faster from the pot stock mega-mania. The companies are like smoking jets on super afterburners! They make the dotcom mania look like a little blip. Anyway, I’ve mellowed back down for now to only slam levels so here we go again. If you already have seen the first part, please go to Part II below.
Nobody Vul, Matchpoints, South Dealer. You are East. Your partner obviously does not possess your incredible flair for the game. He is probably a bit above average Regional event player.
Even though North had hardly played in any National or higher events for 16 years, and only plays in some scattered ones now, to paraphrase some Rodwell guy, he is “The Always Dangerous Al the Plumber”!
Anyway, you pick up:
SA HAKQ743 DAKQ CJ84
You’re already revving up your favorite slam bidding methods when this happens:
2S P 4D (Alert!)
What the heck is this nonsense? Why does this kind of thing happen only to you?
The first decision is should you ask what 4D is? Whatever it is, there is a good chance that it seldom occurs. Maybe there is a screw-up??? Most of the people to whom I gave the hand did ask. To speed up some matters, I’ll just tell you it gets Alerted as an asking bid in diamonds. Of course, you can comment about anything that is imposed, regardless whether you would have done the same thing or not.
So what do you do now? Once again, I’ll speed things up by saying the majority bid 4H.
Now it goes: 5C (Alert), P, 6S!!
Your turn again. Isn’t this fun?
So I’ll impose that you ask about the 5C bid. It’s Alerted as AK or a void. I’ll let you try to decide which it might be.
BTW, just for laffs, if your partner had bid 5H instead of passing, would that change your decision?
After cogitating about it, please page down for the second part.
Did you really think you were going to beat this with a mere 23 HCP’s, including 3 aces, one of which is trump? You’d be lucky to get that ace! When spades were trump, 3 TIMES I’ve seen the SA not take a trick!!! ☺ Judging from those deals and other losing trump aces that I know about, it may have happened millions of times!
Assuming that 6S is even a semi-sane bid (even though it is from Al, The Plumber of the Depths of Lunacy), probably there are two red suit voids that basically void most of your hand. (Yes, some other deals and crapshoots might be slight possibilities.) What do you rate to beat it with? It also certainly doesn’t sound like this auction will be repeated often, or ever, even if it is played in lots of games throughout the bridge world. How is anyone else going to get to 6S? Maybe on rare occasions a pair will take the “save” over 6H???
Yes, I know what the hands are, but I think that the 23 HCP piece of junk should not X or PASS. Furthermore, those two calls probably won’t get you written up in bridge columns, except maybe for being a victim of the opponents! Isn’t that what really matters?
At the outset, you thought there were pretty good chances that you might end up bidding a slam. What are you waiting for?
Bid ONE OF THEM! Lots of things could happen, and some might be good, especially since there may be saves that go for less than the value of the opponents’ game, or perhaps at least less than their likely doubled 4S or 5S contracts. Those contracts may be quite common, even if some were intended as saves! If I have what appears to be a likely zero, I’ll try just about anything that seems like it has some chance. It’s amazing how often it gets something, and sometimes a good score or even a top. In this example, it is not so impossible that you even might make a grand (sometimes cold after the wrong lead), or that maybe an opponent will take a chance/save with 7S! Often they will not be sure who has the SA, and might assume their partner has it in some forcing pass or other auctions. After all, the opponents are there to help you!
BTW, it’s really uber-hilarious when even a phantom save by you is a super score! That could happen here.
Based on the bidding, the 2S opener presumably has 5-6 spades and 0 diamonds. 3-4 hearts and 3+ clubs are likely. Although not so likely, his hand could be VERY, VERY distributional. Maybe 6-5 either way — or even more EXTREME. It is unlikely to be super short in hearts because pard might have bid 5H with big length there, even with a Yarborough, unless it just looked like losers up the kazoo elsewhere.
If it matters to you, you also might want to ask about the opponents’ style with a side 3, 4, or possibly even longer major.
The most important unknown may be what RHO holds. Here are some of the possibilities. He probably has 4+ spades (although 3 might be a slight possibility), 0 hearts, and 2+ diamonds. That probably “narrows” it down to 0-7 clubs. ☺ Whatever he has, the prospect of the 2S opener having 3-4 small ones doesn’t seem to concern him too much, if at all, unless he is hoping for the wrong lead. His possible 1-3 card club holdings may consist only of winners, although possible crapshoots may be headed by the AQ. Since your CJ doesn’t look enough like the CK to fool the opponents, that finesse will win if declarer needs it to keep control or for a winner. RHO’s hopes might be that a long diamond suit could be established, and/or there would be a huge cross ruff. 4+ card club holdings probably are headed by the AKQ (because he probably is not relying on long diamond tricks) unless they are very long. Then only the AK (or possibly an AQ crapshoot) might be possible.
So what are the possible bids?
7H: On the bidding, LHO probably should lead a club, after which you quite often are going for too much in top tricks and ruffs, unless RHO happens to have the A as his only club honor, maybe stiff. But “quite often” doesn’t mean always. For example, from the 2S opener’s point of view, his pard could have something like SAxxxx H— Dxxxxxxxx Cx. Of course, the diamond suit could have been headed by some honor(s). He may lead a non-club without thinking about it much. Plus, some opposing hero may find a 7S bid, possibly after a forcing pass. Who knows???
7D: This seems like a pretty wild shot, but it definitely stops ruffs with diamonds! ☺ And with a spade lead, you are claiming on “merely” HJx Dxxxxxxxx, HJxx Dxxxxxxx, etc. in the reds in the dummy. There also may be others ways to get to 7D if pard has a ton of them. BTW, there are many types of tons. A bridge ton usually = 7+. Who the leader is could be a double-edged sword, depending on whether LHO gives a heart ruff to his partner, how many club losers your partner has, etc. If your RHO is on lead, he rates to get 1-3 tricks in clubs, and often 1-3 in total also, and even -500 could be a good score.
Furthermore, if RHO is drooling a lot, you still can try 7H if you want to.
7C: That’s ridiculous
6NT: In apparent save situations, NT usually suggests suit(s) that were not bid, or something else about the distro – possibly a disparity in bid suit lengths. The NT bidder might pull the response to clarify what he is doing. Sometimes, it means other things such as which suit to lead. AND occasionally, it is meant to play. It may be right to play it there for this deal, but it may be hard for partner to read it, even though there may be ways to find out in many situations if an opponent thinks he is forced to hit 6NT. (Otherwise he won’t collect enough in undoubled undertricks.) That X can be used to advantage. Bids, passes, and XX’s can be used to try to define what the NT bidder is doing.
Whatever action partner takes has some chance of working if he has certain hands, the opponents mess up, etc.
Well, that’s enough choices. What’s yours?
Here’s the actual hand.
Oh yeah, about that ridiculous 7C bid: That’s my choice! First of all, often LHO will have to decide whether or not to make a forcing pass. Also, there’s a chance of a mix-up. Sometimes pass, especially by the supposedly “weak” hand, and in wild auctions, can show better trump than might be expected. Even many “expert” players often are not sure what some forcing passes mean. E.g., does KQxxxx of trump = extras for a NV weak 2? For some players, they are. Or is something like a suit headed by AK or AQ needed? Or on this type of auction, is the trump holding not too material? Is only something like the CA “extra”? BTW, on occasion, psychic forcing passes add to the general bridge hilarity. ☺ Over X, my pard will be in a position to XX to suggest a lot of diamonds and some heart tolerance. Even if pard passes, I still can bid 7H if I want to. That’s if it’s still available! Ha! Ha!
BUT — from what is known about the auction, there’s a good chance that partner will prefer hearts immediately, or later on in some auctions. Occasionally, he might try 7D if he has a ton of them, which is a lot more likely than usual on this auction, especially if he doesn’t support hearts. At any rate, if pard bids 7H as is quite likely, LHO rates to be pretty confused about my hand, and may not even consider a club lead after this, no less lead one. After all, I really could have clubs! I might even make 7H!! Something like Sx Hxxxx DJxxxxx Cxx opposite me would be real tough to take! ☺ Pard might have bid 5H with some such hands previously, but it could appear to him that it might go for 500+ fairly often.
If my partner and I had discussed our methods in these situations, I might bid 6NT instead.
RHO’s hand was
SJT763 H— D98643 CAKQ.
The 2S bidder had SKQ9542 HJ95 D— C9753. Partner has S8 HT862 DJT752 CT62
6S is cold since spades are 1-1, and it has other significant chances if they aren’t, even before considering a defensive error or misguess such as following low to a spade lead from dummy with Ax, which sometimes would be necessary if declarer had opened one of those disgusting Stauber Weak 2’s.
So if you X’ed or passed, you were doomed to a ZERO in the actual event, and probably that or very close to if it had occurred elsewhere instead.
6NTX is -300 at worst. It didn’t have to be right, but it was this time. Bidding it and staying there may have been tough though, especially without a lot of agreements about NT bids in apparent save situations.
7CX would have been amusing to the opponents. (Amusing for you if they, for some reason or non-reason, forgot to X! ☺ )
7DX = not nice! (Once again, amusing for you if not X’ed!)
7H = nice!
7HX = nice on non-club lead. Not nice otherwise.
7S, 7SX by opps = Whoopee!
7NT (Ha! Ha!) = -150 at worst.
7NTX = -500 at worst. Beats the X’ed spade contracts. Not too bad for a phantom save!
Al, The Plumber of the Depths of Lunacy
P.S. Bridge lunacies and random semi-sane bridge stuff at bridgewinners.com, bridgeblogging.com, and Facebook (Allan Stauber & various bridge pages)
PPS Immaterial spots are not known, and were inserted arbitrarily for some computerized bridge diagrams.