Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Slam tries with a nine-card fit

The other day at Westwood, playing with Steve, an interesting hand came up that got me thinking about the best way to consider a slam after partner has shown a four-card major-suit fit.  My hand (vulnerable vs. not, 2nd to speak) was a useful ♠A42 AKJ62 AQ32 ♣6.  Not enough to open 2♣, surely but a fine hand.  The opponents were silent throughout and in response to my 1 bid, partner bid 3, in this case showing a weak hand with four card support.  I think it would not be a crime simply to rebid 4 here.  But I didn't want to give up on slam.  But how should it be done?

After discussion with Kim, I think the right bid here is the next step to ask for shortness, 3♠ in this case (3NT if our suit was spades).  With no shortness, partner simply signs off in game.  With a singleton (or void) partner bids the short suit (a splinter essentially), using 3NT for short spades if our suit is hearts.  Opener can now make a control-showing slam try or ask for any keycards, or of course sign off. 

Suppose partner's hand had been ♠9 T873 KJ86 ♣J972.  Slam would be dependent on finding the trump queen.  With ♠9 Q873 KT86 ♣T972, slam would be close to cold.  Over my 3♠ call, partner would bid 3NT and I would continue with 4♣.  Partner would show a control with 4 and I could continue with keycards, finding that we did or did not have the trump queen as the case may be.

Admittedly, this is a rather fortunate example.  The shortness and control showing bids all happen to be the next step, allowing an orderly key-card asking sequence. 

At the table of course, none of this had been discussed.  I made a somewhat lame 4 slam try and partner quite reasonably signed off in game.  Partner's actual hand was ♠J9 T873 KJ86 ♣972.  I guessed to drop the Q and made 5. 

Still, it's obvious that any rebid by opener other than bidding game, must be some sort of slam try.  Shortness is usually the key to low-hcp slams so shortness is what should be looked for.  If opener makes any other rebid (not the 1st step and not the 5th, i.e. game, step) then he is showing shortness.  (This would be unusual, however, since it is really responder's shortness that is the key to bidding slams.)  Responder cuebids if he has a control and no wastage, otherwise he signs off.  A jump rebid by opener would show a void and should be the exclusion key-card ask.

After a standard limit raise, we would use the same sequences.  However, this time of course, responder is significantly stronger and opener can be correspondingly weaker.  It's much less likely now that responder has shortness because he didn't splinter already.  So, it's opener's rebid that is the most important.  As described above, it should show shortness.

Over a constructive or limit-raise Bergen response, the issues are a little different.  Again, responder is unlikely to have a limit-raise with shortness since he didn't splinter.  But over a constructive raise, it's very possible.

An upcoming blog will look at such sequences.

No comments:

Post a Comment