Monday, October 12, 2009

You bid 3S on that!

Kim and I played in the NAP district qualifiers this weekend. We didn't play as well as we should have and only squeaked into the Sunday finals. We had a reasonable morning game which was spoiled only by my passing a key-card ask and later defending a 2HX like a complete idiot and ending up with only 300 instead of the 1100 we were due (which would have been a top) and necessary since we can make 6D.

But Kim got a chance to shine at declarer play however on another board. I held ♠– 743 Q8753 ♣QJT65. After one pass, Kim opened 2NT. We play 3S as Minor-suit Stayman which is primarily for hands where we can make 6 of a minor. I wasn't sure we could make a slam – so much would depend on Kim's wastage in spades – but there didn't seem any way to find out. I was planning to bid 5C over the expected 4NT rebid and hope that Kim would pass or correct. Worst case, we'd be in 6 of a minor, right? Wrong. We were in 6NT which has no play on proper defense. Here's the complete hand:
I probably would have chosen 2♣ to open the magnificent West hand as I would evaluate it to be rather too good for 2NT. Still, we do play methods that allows us to find the right spot with any distribution except 5422 or 4522 so this qualifies shape-wise. Over my 3♠ call, the South player doubled. Now, I could just about understand a double of 3, but why would he particularly want a spade lead? Or perhaps he was hoping to find a good save (they were at favorable vulnerability).

Kim passed (redouble would have been logical but would have caused me a bit of a headache!) showing no four-card minor (the equivalent of 4NT without the competition). This was nice as it allowed me to show clubs at the four-level. On reflection, since that bid would be forcing, I should have bid 4, intending to bid clubs at my next turn, but I was thinking my sequence would show both minors (I don't think it did).

Kim's next bid was 4♠ (I'm still not sure what that was but, knowing the identify of the South she was probably trying to expose a psyche). Anyway, I attempted to retreat to 5♣. Since this was matchpoints and she had spades well stopped (!), she chose 6NT rather than 6♣, not imagining that my hand could be as bad as it was in terms of high cards. 6♣ makes, by the way, but takes rather careful trump play.

Only four things had to happen to allow 6NT to make: a spade lead, the doubler to play low on the lead (if he plays the K the squeeze no longer works because North would be guarding the spades), the K to be in the North hand, and the ♣K to be singleton (there's no way to get to dummy more than once to take the more normal finesse). Additionally, Kim would have to keep her cool and recognize that the only play was a major-suit squeeze against South. As you can see, this transpired so we got a good board to say the least!

In fact, Kim played the dummy extremely well all day and she played a lot of dummies, too. My role was confined pretty much to bidding and defending, not always with such great results.

The afternoon was somewhat dismal. We got into a fight with one pair who essentially refused to explain their agreements about new minor forcing (essentially, they didn't really know the convention even though they played it). The director apparently didn't know it either and accused me of being hostile for subjecting the opponents to too many questions. According to our esteemed director, on the sequence 1 – 1 – 1NT – 2♣ –, a 2 call could cover any point range from 12 to 19 (!) and there is nobody in the world who would jump to 3 with a 14 count and three hearts!

All told, we were obliged to call the director far too many times for a serious event. Here's an example of clear-cut unauthorized information being acted upon. Fortunately, in this case, our opponents got to the wrong contract and we felt we had a decent score so we didn't have to risk calling the director back. Let's say that you hold this hand: ♠A9764 KJ96 Q7 ♣53, and your RHO deals and opens 1. I dare say quite a few people holding this hand would do something, but you pass, LHO passes and partner reopens with 1NT. You now bid 2, asking partner to choose a major. Partner bids 2. You would probably raise to 3 or 4, right? But what if partner announces "transfer" after your 2 call? Incidentally, this is why you must say "alert!" in these non-standard situations. Well, the hand shown now bids 2♠ because she now thinks that partner might not have hearts after all (in fact he had three). They ended up in 3NT down 1 after careful defense. On this occasion, I called the director after I had made my face-down lead (I was the opening bidder) dummy, the hand shown, now told us that they don't play transfers in that situation, as far as she remembered). The director didn't bother to remain long enough to discover that dummy had four hearts!

I have lots more to complain about this event which, as far as I'm concerned, has steadily gone downhill over the last ten years or so. But those rants will have to wait!

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