Thursday, October 11, 2007

Shanghai Deal #11

Neither USA 1 nor Norway, in the finals of the Bermuda Bowl, could find this slam, in an uncontested auction:

Opener: QJxx-Axxx-KQxx-x
Responder: AKx-KJ10x-A-Jxxxx

For me, this would be a fun one. I would have a great start with an unbalanced 1D opening, promising 6+ diamonds OR 4+ diamonds with a stiff or void somewhere.

Using Golady 2C, Responder bids 2C, showing any pattern without a 5-card major. As a bonus, he happens to have real clubs, in case that ever matters. It won't on this hand.

Opener bids one under his cheapest 4-card major, if he has one. So, 2D. Note that 4+ diamonds and 4 hearts means that Opener must have a stiff somewhere if the opening is unbalanced.

Responder, who has heart support, agrees hearts by bidding 2H, starting a cuebidding sequence.

Opener lacks a spade control, and he shows that by bypassing 2S; this also denies a stiff spade and, accordingly, shows that the stiff is in clubs. He lacks two top trumps, and he shows that by bidding 2NT.

Responder lacks the club Ace, so he bypasses 2C. He does have a spade control, however, so he can continue cuebidding, showing his control thereby. He has one of the top three diamond honors, so he cuebids 3D.

This lets Opener know that his diamond suit is solid for three quicks. He also knows that Responder must have something in hearts, because his possession of at most one top heart is not fatal. Opener does have one top trump, so he cuebids 3H, showing that.

Opener has already shown the stiff club, has already denied the possession of two top trumps, and has already denied a spade control. His cue of 3H shows that he has the best holding he can have in hearts at this point, one of the top three honors. Because Responder's 3D cuebid did not deny any holding that would be required for slam, 4H by Opener could not be a signoff and therefore must be a Picture Jump. The only meaning for a Picture Jump in the context would be the Picture Splinter in clubs. Thus, the election to cuebid 3H instead of jumping to 4H denies either holding three of the top four diamonds unless Opener has a club void.

Responder can cue 3S, showing that his spade control is first-round.

Opener has shown the club stiff, one top heart, no spade control, and nothing about diamonds. His spades are as good as they could possibly be in context. His hearts are already known. His diamond quality is as good as it could be, at least at the top, and his club control is shown.

Opener, therefore, has two options to consider. He might cuebid 4D. This would deny serious interest (because he bypassed 3NT) but would show, ultimately, two top diamonds (and complete the three-top-diamonds partnership picture for partner), a club stiff rather than a void and not the stiff Ace (he inferred the stiff already and could not re-cue 4C), and the one top heart with which he started. The denial of a void club or the stiff Ace of clubs would also deny the diamond Jack, inferentially.

Or, he could look at the spade situation and decide that 3NT better tells his tale. The problem with a 3NT call is that it sounds like a stiff club Ace or a club void PLUS semi-solid diamonds. Serious 3NT calls often suggest touching-suit messages, and this situation seems to scream of that.

Further, think through what Responder will know. Opener's hand will be known to be as follows:


Responder will surely visualize the spade Queen as extremely odds on. That card makes the five-level relatively safe. Technically, the hearts could be Qxxx, but that would be rather poor luck, a hand like QJxx-Qxxx-KQxx-K, perhaps. With that hand, partner might have opted to show a balanced hand by opening 1C.

Responder could ask for Aces, and he could even consider an uncertain 4S call, but I like a straight-forward 5H. He needs something more. This seems to focus spades, and QJxx looks like the right holding to move.

Not an easy one. But, a very fun hand for my methods.

No comments: