Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall foliage sectional

It was nice to go up North again for the New Hampshire sectional in Hudson, NH. As always, we drove up route 111, but this time I knew that we were driving along on top of the old Worcester, Nashua and Portland railroad.

Board 6 in the evening proved to be a rather remarkable hand. See if you can guess what I'm on about:


While you're pondering that, let me ask you about another hand that came up. You hold: ♠K653 Q54 A3 ♣T853. Nobody is vulnerable and the dealer on your right passes, as do you and your LHO. Partner opens 1. In case it matters, you are playing 2/1 and Bergen raises (on, even by a passed hand). What's your call?

While you think about that, let's look back at that full layout above. According to Deep Finesse, E/W can make nothing at all, not too surprisingly. But N/S can make a small slam in any of the five strains! Whatever contract they are in, they lose one and only one trick! Fortunately, our opponents played it in 4NT so we got 75% of the matchpoints. In fact, of 16 pairs playing the board, 9 bid and made 6NT, one pair made 11 tricks in a major and one pair went down 1 in something. The others were making 12 tricks in a NT game.

OK, back to the hand above and your response to partner's 1. Did you follow the principle of one bid? That is to say, did you (honestly) bid 2? The principle of one bid says that if your hand is only worth one bid, and there is such a bid that perfectly describes your hand, you should make it. In this case, there is such a bid: 2. It shows 6-9 points and, if you happen to be playing Bergen, tells partner you have exactly three hearts. You get your entire hand off your chest in one call!

My partner made the call that, judging from the results, I suspect many if not most made: 1♠. My hand was ♠– AK9863 KJ42 ♣AQJ. I rebid 2 and then when partner gave preference to hearts (now he's really only showing a doubleton, if that), I stretched a bit and bid game. I'm sure that if I had bid 3, we'd have still ended up in game. But we missed our easy slam (in fact the CK was onside so I made all the tricks for 510, as did almost everyone). One enterprising GLM treated his hand as a limit raise and got to the slam.

There are actually two principles in play here: the "one-bid" principle and the principle of support with support (I suppose in fact that really these two principles are very closely related).

I'd like to think that I would have bid 2 myself, but it's possible that I too would have bid 1♠. So I'm not casting any aspersions. It's a good principle to abide by, however, and was first taught to me by Mel Marcus.

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