Live by Your Convictions
You are dealt Kxx-AJx-AKxxx-Ax. Your opening bid?
I think, as did USA II, that this qualifies as a strong 2NT opening. Eight controls, plus a very good five-card diamond suit, certainly suggests an adjustment upwards.
Partner, with Axx-Kxxxx-Q-J10xx, certainly has a strange hand. Stiff Queens are difficult to evaluate. 5-4 hands do have play possibilities. However, the practical sequence seems to be to transfer to hearts (3D) and hope for a super-acceptance. If not, bid 3NT and hope that partner, if he has the golden hand, takes action.
That was the start:
Once deciding that this hand is strong enough for a 2NT opening, why back off now? Your strong control count has not changed. If anything, your hand now has a technical distribution point (Ax in clubs), and you have a trick source. I would consider this about as strong as one could imagine for this sequence, as you would evaluate up a stronger HCP hand and open 2C (or a Precision 1C, if that is your approach).
Suppose that Opener uses my technique of "de-nebulizing" a balanced opening when super-accepting. Opener has a clear 4D call, showing two of the top three diamonds and a three-card heart super-acceptance.
How interesting for Responder. His stiff Queen now can easily be evaluated. It fills in the diamonds. Even if Opener only has three diamonds, Responder can play well opposite xxx in spades for no spade losers. This certainly will re-interest Responder in slam prospects.
Do you really want to hand 13 IMPs to the opposition?
Assuming the spots are indeed bad, this looks like a sub-par slam to me. With two heart losers you are off, with one you need diamonds 3-3 (and no club lead) and with no heart loser you haven't made yet.
I haven't computed the odds but it is certainly not worth a remark about "handing 13 IMPs to opponents".
Anyway, personally I would rather leave bids as 4D (when partner has not shown slam interest) to exceptionally good hands, e.g. the same hand with HQ instead of HJ.
I'll agree that this set of hands yields a sub-par slam. However, Opener does not know Responder's hand when signing off. Give Rodwell the slightly better hand of Axx-Kxxxx-QJ-10xxx, and the slam will be favorable but not bid.
13 IMPs may not have been handed over in practice. Rodwell might have bumped in a way that resulted in a sign-off at the five-level with the actual hand. However, it is not in the results that I was concerned. As you can see, I provided no follow-up auction to the slam, as I also agree that this may not be bid anyway.
I also appreciate the idea of having "exceptionally good hands," especially in the suit that is one under the trump suit (where no Last Train bid is available). However, the hand you seem to want is Kxx-AQx-AKxxx-Ax. For me, that's too strong to open 2NT, frankly. However, if I would open 2NT (this would be absolute maximum), I'd super-accept the transfer (who needs four trumps here?). Having not super-accepted, but having support, the actual hand is huge.
This is worth re-stating. With Kxx-AQx-AKxxx-Ax, I believe that Opener, if opting a mere 2NT opening, should respond with a super-acceptance of hearts immediately. A delayed super-acceptance, therefore, should show something slightly lesser.
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