Thursday, September 3, 2009

RUNT

Just had a reminder of one of my favorite experiences at the table.

Years ago, I was a mad scientist. No -- really. I was playing with a good friend, who liked the bizarre. As a side example, we had an auction, never repeated I bet, where he opened 1C, pass, I bid 1NT, alerted as 2-5 HCP (why play the mundane 9-11? LOL). The explanation continued, that I would have "more minor cards the more vulnerable we were." We were red on white, so I should be contributing quite a few minor cards. After a double of 1NT, partner leapt to 6C!!! This was doubled. If a specific King was in the "right" place, we would have made 6C. Because the King was in the "wrong" place, we went -1 for -200, beating -450 (the overtrick coming because the King was in the "right" place for them, now). 1C-P-1NT-X-6C is unlikely to have occurred before, and even more so if 1NT was alerted as "2-5 HCP."

Anyway, we played a two-way takeout structure. Our 1NT overcall was a second takeout call, dubbed "RUNT" by my partner, for "Really Unusual No Trump."

So, at about board 2 in the seven-board match at the regional, I overcalled 1NT, alerted. Partner, who was loud especially when he was having fun, explained. "That's RUNT. Partner has either 5-10 HCP and at least three cards in each of the other three suits, or 19-22 HCP and any shape." So, we ended up doing something intriguing, like maybe some elaborate runout approach we had created when 1NT is doubled. Whatever.

A few boards later, in the same match, I doubled an opening bid, again alerted. "What's that?" Partner responded simply, "Son of RUNT." Responder then said, "OK, I'll bite." Partner then explained. "Well, he either has 0-4 HCP and at least 3 cards in the other three suits, or 11-18 HCP and takeout shape, or 15+ to 18 balanced, or maybe 15-18 and a very strong unbalanced hand as far as playing strength, or 23+ HCP and any shape."

Across the room, from the farthest corner, a voice rang out... "Of course that's what it means, you idiot!!!"

The room erupted.

I don't play RUNT any more. But, it was amusing for a time, and strangely effective. Maybe it was the six-pack that we always took with us when we played together.....

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