Thursday, July 1, 2010

Predicting Jammed Colleagues

The other day, I faced a unique problem.  My hand was AQJ-AQJxxx-AK10-x.  I opened One Heart, and partner raised.  With this particular partner, methods were undeveloped and expected judgment poor.  He would never expect me to have this strong of a hand, and even if he did he would likely underbid the hand.  So, I went along the lines of trying to induce some sort of call that would interest me enough to launch a slam probe, bidding as cheaply as plausible myself.  First 2S, then over 3C biding 3D, then over 3H bidding 3S.  All sick, but plausible and calculated to get some action from partner.

The part that I did not think about until later was the alternative auctions at the other tables.  This was a club game, so the other auctions were likely to be (and were) inferior.  Everyone opened a Strong 2C (you do have 21 HCP, after all) and then heard a "step response" of 2H, showing 4-6 HCP.  Yes, very good methods.

This, of course, crammed their auctions.  Three Hearts was the obvious next move, but I do not know what Responder's solution was for xxx-xxx-x-AQxxxx.  The auction that followed also is unknown.  However, my guess is that Opener overbid (tactically) the hand with the opening call and then followed this up with another overbid, because that's what they do.

I could have opened 2C myself, to get into the same nightmare sequence (with the nightmarish methods we were using).  But, in the context of this particular partnership, I made a good decision to go slowly to control the auction and maximize my information.  However, I missed one concept.  When I reached a certain decision point, I should have taken some freedoms because of the likely alternative auctions.

In other words, I should have realized that this field would be ending up at the five-level or higher with these cards, whether safe or not.  If so, then I could have continued to force partner to make calls into the five-level, or asked for Aces, despite a lack of safety, as the end contract would be at least the same as the field.

In the end, I declared 4H for 13 tricks, against a field of 6H contracts, when partner rejected the game try and then did not even cooperate after my 3S slam try (1H-2H-2S-3C-3D-3H-3S-4H-P).  Now, I would NEVER have this auction with my normal partners, but I was trying to be practical.  (My wife, over a proposed 2S call, opted 4D as a splinter -- good for her!)  In thinking through the "field safety" idea, I probably should have made another try of 4S.

This auction is of course nonsensical, a "bobcater auction."  But, the idea was interesting to me.  Five-level safety is not necessarily, at matchpoints, a question of whether it makes or not but rather a question of whether the field will be at least at this level.

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