Sunday, April 10, 2011

Problems From Louisville--Updated

I played four days at the recent NABC in Louisville with my friend Dr. Mohan. We played in the North American Pair event and the IMP Pair, failing to distinguish ourselves in either. A couple of interesting problems did come up--see what you think of these.
1) Matchpoints
RHO deals and opens 2 Hearts, weak. You overcall 3 Clubs and partner responds 3 Spades. Your call?

This hand is quite a bit more suitable than some that you might hold for play in spades. At the table I was considering that many times a 4 Spade bid would be based on just a doubleton trump. I doubted that my partner would move over a simple 4 Spades with AK-sixth and the ace of clubs. Against that the hand is missing the ace of clubs and is basically a minimum for the initial action (the 3 Club overcall). I decided to cuebid 4 Hearts on the way, perhaps a mild overbid. My partner and I weren't on the same page here and he drove to a hopeless slam.

2) IMPs
Partner opens 1 Club, which could be a doubleton if 4-4-3-2. RHO overcalls 1 Heart. You?

We play normal negative doubles, where a 1 Spade bid would promise 5 of them. The obvious choices seem to be Pass, 2 Clubs, and Double (despite the lack of the fourth spade). I think that pass is clearly wrong...Partner will often be passing out 1 Heart with some marginal 3 card holdings in the suit--in other words, hands that we should definitely be competing on. If I had held length in hearts with similar overall values passing would have much more appeal...if Partner chose to pass it out, I would expect to beat the contract. So the question became a choice between 2 Clubs and Double. Either could work but I figured 1NT could well be our best spot and 2 Spades was unlikely to be a disaster if we ended up there (we could also conceivably end in 1 Spade). I doubled, LHO raised to 2 Hearts and Partner bid 2 Spades, ending the auction. This went one down one on fairly normal play...2 Hearts was beatable double dummy but in practice would probably have made. It was basically a wash in terms of IMPs.

3) IMPs
Game all--You open 1 Spade, LHO overcalls 2 Hearts, Partner bids 4 Spades and RHO is there with 5 Hearts. What's your call?

This was the most dynamic hand of the tournament for me and I have determined that it was a situation that poker players call a "cooler". Bidding 5 Spades seems pretty normal and has been by far the majority choice of people I've polled. On this hand bidding vs doubling represented a difference of no less than 1000 points (5SX-1 vs 5Hx-3). My partner's hand was:
The 5 Heart bidder was 2-4-2-5 with the queen of clubs and the overcaller had AK of hearts, so after a club lead the defense takes the first 4 tricks and then plays a 4th club for an uppercut. Instead I was down 1 doubled in 5 Spades for a double-digit loss.

In retrospect, should I have gotten this right? Does partner rate to have a minor suit singleton for bidding 4 Spades red? If he has one, we will likely get at least 500 from 5 Hearts while prospects in 5 Spades are uncertain.

4) IMPs
You open 2 Clubs, partner bids 2 Diamonds (semi-positive). You bid 2 Spades and partner bids 3 Spades. What's your call/plan for the rest of the auction?

I'm not proud of how I bid this one, and perhaps the answer is that we needed better machinery. The 3 Spade bid promised just scattered values (likely a king somewhere) and any 3 trump and 3NT by me would have been undiscussed. I was unsure of how to get the information that I needed so I ended up bidding Blackwood, hoping to find the trump queen (with 4 trump Partner would have shown the queen). If he had it i could make a generic king ask/grand slam try of 5NT ...when he didn't have it I signed off in 5 Spades, figuring we likely needed 3-2 trump and something good to happen in the minors. I failed to take into account that 4-1 trump could also put me in jeopardy at the 5-level, which could be another argument for driving more aggressively towards slam and hoping for good breaks. Anyway, partner's hand was:
Trump were 3-2 and diamonds were 3-3, so 12 tricks could be made. Unfortunately the field bid this one and we lost around 8 IMPs.