Monday, January 11, 2010

4NT in the Context of a Double Closeout

So, now we get to the big idea.

Suppose that two suits have been closed out.

An example.

1S-P-2C-P-
2D-P-2S

1S-P-2C-P-
2D-P-2S-P-
3C-P-3D-P-
3S-P-4C

In this auction, Opener's bypass of 2NT (which would deny two of the top three spades) inferentially promised two of the top three spades. His cue of 3S later showed the third top spade, "closing out" the spade suit. We now know about the Ace, King, and Queen of spades.

Opener's cue of 3C showed one of the top three clubs. Responder's cue of 4C showed the remaining two top clubs. Thus, the side suit clubs is also "closed out."

In this situation, then, the closing out of clubs (one of the two side suits) converts diamond and heart cues to straight control bids.

So, a few things happen, and we know that the reds are covered before someone bids 4NT.

What is that?

Well, at this point, the only unknowns seem to be the nature of the red suit controls. Are these aces or kings? Shortness?

It seems to me that closing out both the trump suit and a side suit should make 4NT a rather precise bid. If the nature of the red controls in this example is unknown, then the responses to 4NT should clarify that issue. To explain, consider the example (black suits closed out, red suit control type unknown). What could be done now?

4NT = please explain red suit control types:

5C = One Ace
5D = No Aces
5H = Two Aces

If the person answering has one Ace and a void in the obvious suit, he bids 5S.

If the person answering has one Ace and a void, but there is no obvious location for that void, then 5S shows the lower void and 5NT shows the higher void.

If the person bids 5C (one Ace), then 5D asks for a possible void. Without a void, sign off at the lowest level. With a void in the obvious suit, cuebid resumes. If the location of the void would not be obvious, show the location of the void by steps (lowest non-signoff shows lowest void; highest non-signoff shows highest void).

If a void is not possible, then 5H+ show two Aces and are immediate cuebid resuming bids (including 5H). In that event, as well, there is no "asking bid" for the void, but cuebidding resumes.

If a triple closeout occurs, if that is possible, then 4NT should simply ask for clarification of the remaining suit. I'll let others come up with those rules, if anyone wants to go that far.

Closing out the suit?

What happens if a suit is "closed out" as far as controls?

Consider an example:

1S-P-2C-P-

If Opener is able to cuebid 3C (two of the top three clubs) and Responder is then able to cuebid 4C (the missing club honor), or backwards (Responder cuebids 3C to show one and then Opener cuebids 4C to show the remaining two), then the suit is "closed out," meaning that this side suit is proven to be A-K-Q at the top,

A similar auction could occur after Golady:

1D-P-2C-P-
2D(hearts)-P-2H(hearts agreed)

Opener and/or Responder could "close out" the diamond suit.

If that occurs, then a 5-level call in a closed out suit cannot logically be Exclusion RKCB, as that makes no sense. Furthermore, it cannot be a "shifting" RKCB (show the king and queen of this suit as the secondary key cards) for the reason of redundancy -- the answer to this question is already known. (Same principle of why a call cannot be exclusion if partner has already denied a control in that suit anyway). 6KCB makes just as little sense.

This auction, therefore, involving a "close out," offers an opportunity for a surrogate asking bid at above game in that strain.

Suppose, further, that the close-out occurs below game sufficiently low to enable more than one cue between the close-out call and game. (A simple example is closing out clubs with a 4C call when spades is the agreed strain.) My position is that any cue after a side suit is closed out should be a straight control cue (honor or shortness allowed) if control is not yet established and even if the normal cue rules for that side suit would (a) allow a cue of a queen or (b) discourage or not allow a shortness control cue. This would further not require any "two honors" rule.

An example. One partner of mine likes a 3NT cue in the specific auction:

1H-P-2C-P-
2S-P-3H(agrees hearts)-P-

...to be a responsive spade cue (I have the missing spade honor). Or, if you will, the "definition" of a "serious 3NT" in this specific auction is "I have the missing spade honor."

Fine.

But, once a 3NT call is made, closing out spades, it seems that Opener should be able to cue clubs with the Ace or King, but not the Queen, and that a cue of 4C could also be the call with a stiff or void in clubs. It just shows a club control. Similarly, a 4D cue by Opener should deny a diamond control but simply show a diamond control (Ace, King, stiff, or void).

Thus, closing out a side suit should convert other calls to straight control if control in that suit has not yet been established.

Nice surrogate RKCB situation

From a sectional this weekend. Playing with a friend, whose cue structure is very similar to mine, but with a few small tweaks.

The actual hand:

KQxxx-KQJxxxx-x-V

1H-P-2C-P-
2S-P-3H(sets trumps)-P-
3S(two top spades)-P-4D(courtesy, not club Ace or KQ)-P-
?

So far, easy. Bid Exclusion RKCB, right? No. Partner has already denied the club Ace. With this specific structure, 4C would show the Ace, or the KQ. But, bypassing the 4C cue means no club Ace. Hence, Exclusion is off. This illustrates why. You don't need it. The 4NT answer will tell all.

Next, change the hand slightly.

AQxxx-KQJxxxx-x-V

A better hand, but more difficult. Same auction, up through 4D.

At this point, this partner likes 4S in a heart sequence to be a general slam move requesting partner to start asking questions. In other words, a desire to answer rather than ask.

However, "surrogate RKCB" works.

This is a method where a call that cannot be Exclusion inferentially (because of a denial or promise earlier that resolves all questions and therefore makes Exclusion redundant) takes on the "most useful meaning" by default rules.

In this sequence, the "most useful meaning" is obvious -- RKCB, but show the SPADE king and queen rather than the heart king and queen. Opener is looking at the heart king and queen and therefore knows that answer. But, the sequence is such that Responder could never cue spades. The 4S relay to answer won't work, because Responder won't guess 5-7-1-0.

So, 5C becomes RKCB, spade focus as to answering, heart focus as to strain.