Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gosh, what a hand!

Back in the day, there was no problem picking up a hand like ♠KQ76 KQT542AK7 ♣– and hearing RHO open 1♣.  You simply bid 2.  No problem.  But then we realized a jump overcall was much more frequent (and useful) if it showed a weak hand.  So that left a problem: what to do with a good one-suited hand (GOSH)?  To qualify as a GOSH, the hand should probably have a decent suit and 18+ hcp or a very good suit and 16+ hcp. 

I learned a simple rule from the excellent Robson and Segal book mentioned previously in this blog: if, having already doubled, you next make a new suit bid that, if you had bid it immediately would have been a jump overcall, you are showing a GOSH.  Although this bid isn't forcing on a partner with a Yarborough and a misfit, it is surely highly encouraging.

A few examples should clarify:
  • 1♣ X p 1 p 2: a GOSH with hearts (nothing to say about the other suits)
  • 1♣ X p 1NT p 2: ditto
  • 1♣ X p 1NT 2♣ 2: ditto
Note this last one.  It could be made perhaps on a good hand with hearts but not necessarily a true GOSH because partner has shown signs of life over there and RHO has bid again.  Still, I think it should be forcing, given that partner has significant values.

A raise of partner's suit can't be a GOSH, obviously (unless perhaps you double-raise).
  • 1♣ X p 1♠ 2♣ 2♠
  • 1♣ X p 1♠ p 2♠
The first one shows a non-minimum takeout double and confirms four spades and wants to compete.  The second (no competition) shows a hand that might still make game even though partner is limited to about 7 or 8 hcp.  Not necessarily a GOSH, though.

When is doubler's new suit not a GOSH?  This really needs to be discussed with your partner first.  But suppose the auction proceeds:
  • 1♣ X p 1 p 1: the classic "equal-level conversion".  You haven't raised the level of bidding but you're saying that you don't really have diamonds – you have a hand with both majors which is not suitable for a Michael's bid.  Perhaps something like ♠KJxx AQTxx xx ♣Ax or ♠AJxx AQxx xx ♣Axx.
  • 1 X p 1♠ p 2♣: you basically have a decent hand with clubs and hearts, perhaps with only two or three spades.  ♠Kxx AQJx xx ♣AQxx.  Similar to the equal-level conversion situation except that we have raised the level so it's not equal-level any more.  This one definitely needs to be discussed with partner.
I held the hand mentioned at the top the other evening at the club.   The auction proceeded 1♣ X p 1NT 2♣ 2, as described above.  Unfortunately, my partner didn't consider my bid to be forcing and he passed 2.  I made 5 for almost a bottom.  Possibly, my bid wouldn't be considered forcing by others.  But I can't quite picture the hand that would bid this way where we wouldn't want to play at least 2NT.

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