Friday, May 13, 2011

A lost opportunity

In fourth seat at favorable vulnerability, I picked up the following collection: ♠QT743 JT84293 ♣8.  Partner opened 1♣ in second seat and RHO bid 6!  I passed, as did LHO, and partner doubled.  We play that such a double is cooperative, so I can take it out if I think it's right.  On the plus side, I have two five card majors, and partner should have at least one four-card major on this auction.  On the other hand, if partner has the ♣A I can likely get a ruff for down one at least.  I decided to leave it in.  In an auction like this, partner's double can't mean don't lead clubs as well as suggesting a takeout.  Therefore I felt that the obvious lead was the ♣8.  Unfortunately (but perhaps not surprisingly) declarer had the ♣A and moreover was able to get to dummy in diamonds (with the 8) to pitch the losing spade on the A, which was the only card that dummy provided.  Once I don't lead a spade, the contract is always making, losing us a bushel of IMPs since most RHO's didn't bid 6 with their 1075 shape (with solid diamonds). 

Bidding 6♠ would have improved our score to only -500 which would have actually given us few IMPs on the plus side.  But best of all would be for me to lead a spade and set the contract for a gain of almost 12 imps.

The lesson here I suppose is that if you develop a system of unlimited cooperative doubles, you should at least try to use it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Applying the Martin Defense to Interference over a weak NT

I recently became convinced to play the Martin Defense to interference over a weak NT.  I've always been a fan of negative doubles after a 1NT opener (of any range except 10-12 when I think penalty is probably more prudent).  But in the Martin defense, double shows exactly two cards in the suit bid by the interferer (regardless of the meaning of the bid).  It also shows sufficient cards to be reasonably sure they're going down, a good 9 to a good 12.  Anything more and we should probably try for game and anything less and it's better not to double them.  Given the generally balanced nature of the hand (opener has a balanced hand and if we have a reasonably balanced hand), then it's reasonable to assume that the entire hand is balanced -- not guaranteed of course.  Thus the number of total tricks is likely in the 15-16 range rather than anything more.

The first time we played it, it didn't come up and tonight it looked like it wouldn't again until the last round.  I opened board 1 with 1NT (12-14) as North (none vulnerable obviously) holding ♠A97 76AKJT ♣JT53.  LHO bid 2♠ and partner doubled, showing precisely two spades.  RHO bid 3♠.  Well, this was an easy one.  They were contracting for 9 tricks on an eight card fit, while we have the balance of the high card points.  I doubled therefore, hoping for 100 our way (better than making 1NT) or even 300 if we were lucky.  Before the opening lead, we were told that 2♠ actually showed spades and a minor (Cappelletti/Hamilton), but it wouldn't have made any difference to our methods.  Partner led ♣4 and dummy came down with ♠J52 KQ94253 ♣982, a reasonably good dummy from our point of view in that probably the hearts wouldn't be worth very much being most probably opposite shortness and with dummy being short of entries.  Partner came up with KT of trumps and we managed to get the contract down 3 (+500) for a top.  The best we could do unaided was 120 with our 23 hcp.  As predicted, the number of total tricks on the deal was on the low side: 15 (9 our way in diamonds and 6 their way in spades).

I guess you can count me a convert!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rebidding after a double

Let's look at a few auctions that involve rebids after a takeout double:
  1. (1S) x (p) 2D (p) 2H
  2. (1S) x (p) 3D (p) 3H
  3. (1S) x (p) 2D (p) 3H
Which of these show a good one-suited hand?  I think it's clear that #3 must show a good hand with very good hearts.  What about the other hands?  If you play that doubles can be two-suited, as opposed to three-suited, that's to say an extension of the principle of equal-level conversion, then #1 simply shows a hand that wants partner to choose between hearts and clubs.  Clearly, this is not a minimum hand because we might be forcing a Yarborough to declare at the three level.  But it's a different hand from that in auction #3. 

However, it seems to me that in auction #2, where partner has shown substantial values, 3H would simply confirm four hearts and a relatively minimum double.  Presumably, in order for partner to bid 3D, he's either got sufficient values to play 4D if he has no heart support, or 3NT, or 4H if he has four hearts.

But I admit this is an area I'm not sure about.  And I doubt if there's anything in the books about this.