Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shanghai Deal #2

Another deal from Shanghai:

Opener: AK10xx-x-AKQxx-Kx
Responder: QJx-AQx-Jx-AQxxx

The auction for me:

3C(good trumps, club honor)-P-3H(heart control, no diamond A/K/Q)-P-
3NT(Serious Interest)-P-4C(two top clubs)-P-
4NT(1430 RKCB)-P-5S(two with Queen)-P-
5NT(King ask/grand try)-P-7S-P-

Shanghai Hand #1

Round Robins, Shanghai.

Opener: AKQJ9-x-Kx-KQJ109
Responder: xxx-x-A109x-Axxxx

Compare the three auctions -- the two that occurred and the one using my methods:

Indonesia: 1S-2S-3C-3D-3H-4C-4H-6C. Not bad. I'm not exactly sure what the inferences were, but the write-up in the Shanghai Daily Bulletin suggests that Responder used good judgment.

Brazil: 1S-2S-3C-4C-4S. I have no idea why anyone would sign off without a stab with that Opening hand and a club raise, whatever that means.

My techniques are a tad better.

First, Responder has the option of bidding 3NT to show four clubs and 2-3 cover cards. 4C, instead, would show five clubs and 2-3 cover cards. You cannot miss the slam after that sequence, and you are even checking on a grand.

Second, had Responder only held four clubs, this slam would have been easily bid when Responder accepts by bidding 3NT. Opener could then, if desired, bid 4C to agree clubs for slam purposes and asking for the control count (4S = minimum; 6C = maximum; cue new side King; splinter; etc.).

If using the constructive raise version, the auction is slightly different. As Responder does not have 3-4 cover cards, he cannot bid 3NT. However, the 4-level raise in this version shows an unbalanced 2-cover raise with shortness somewhere. In that approach, 4C is the call. Opener will again have no problem finding this slam.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Superaccepting a Relay

There are many opportunities to make a "super acceptance" when you do not know what you are super-accepting, in a manner of speaking. This might occur, for instance, if you make an unusual response to what normally would be considered a relay. A few examples, perhaps?
Consider the Kokish Relay. Partner opens 2C, strong, forcing, and artificial. You bid 2D, artificial, game forcing. Partner now bids 2H. Using Kokish, this is a relay to 2S, after which partner will either bid 2NT, showing any balanced hand with about 24+ HCP (and maybe only two hearts) or will bid something else, natural, confirming that the 2H call included a real heart suit. So, most people simply bid 2S and see what happens.

Why? Why not clarify holdings here, in a way that might be useful. My personal preference is to play splinters. So, if I do not bid 2S, I'll bid my short suit from a 4441 hand. Thus, for example, 2C-P-2D-P-2H!-P-?

2S = not 4441
3C = 4441
3D = 4414
3H = 4144
3S = 1444

These are tough hands to bid after a balanced 2NT call, so why not gain something here? For that matter, I also play that 2NT shows a 6-card, non-positive spade suit (preserve the lead-direction).

There are many other examples. Another favorite is after this sequence:

2NT(strong)-P-3S(relay to 3NT for a minor or minors slam try)-P-???

Responder is about to bid his minor of interest (4C or 4D), or his short major if holding both minors. Why not do something intelligent as Opener? A simple solution is for 4C to show extras for slam purposes, with great cards for the minors. This gains in many respects, including the ability of Responder to push slightly with a 3S call, planning to pass if Opener cannot bid anything other than 3NT.

You might also, after this 2NT-P-3S-P-? auction, use Empathetic Splinters, of course. Thus, 4H or 4S by Opener would show primed-out minor-oriented cards, with no wasted cards in the bid major. Same principle. If you know where partner is going, why sit back and wait?

Take the time to think through relay sequences, and decide with partner whether any offer chances for these types of "Relay Super Acceptances." You may find a lot of options for improving definition that were never recognized. Sometimes, maybe shoprtness-indicators are available. Sometimes you might use paradox super acceptances (bidding the suit that you would not super-accept, for instance). But, there are probably missed opportunities that you will find.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Look Inside the Book

Google Books now carries a look inside Cuebidding at Bridge, A Modern Approach, with portions of the book produced for review, if you are interested. The link is provided on the left under Links.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Unwinding the Queens

Problems keep popping up. The problems are rarely discussed. You mess it up, or flail about, and maybe forget about it. Maybe you discuss it, but only after the bad result. Most problems can be resolved, however.

Here's a case in point. You open 2C strong, forcing, artificial. Partner bids 2D, artificial, GF, with at least one King or two Queens. You bid 2S. Partner bids 4S, showing a dead minimum with no controls (no Aces or Kings, no stiffs or voids). So, he has two Queens. How do you unwind the Queens?

The answer seems to be to bid 4NT. This cannot be ace-asking, as partner has already told you the answer. Partner is expected to bid Queens up-the-line. If he bids 5H, you will know that he has the heart Queen and the spade Queen.

If partner bids 5D, you know that he has the diamond Queen and either the spade Queen or the heart Queen, but which is his second Queen? If you bid 5H Last Train, is he supposed to go with the heart Queen? How can that be more important than the trump Queen? If you needed the trump Queen, how would you ask for that without inducing acceptance because of the heart Queen? It seems that Opener would bid the slam if he needed both red Queens, so 5H seems to ask if Opener's second Queen was the trump Queen, not the heart Queen.

If partner bids 5C, you know that partner has the club Queen and some other Queen. You can unwind this as well. If the club Queen and diamond Queen would work, bid 5D. If partner hears 5D and has the minor Queens or clubs and trumps, he bids slam. If partner hears the 5D call but has the club and heart Queens, he bids 5H. If you need the club Queen and the heart Queen, but not the diamond Queen, you bid 5H. Partner accept with the club Queen and either the heart Queen or the trump Queen. If you need the club Queen and the trump Queen, but not the diamond Queen or the heart Queen you are stuck.

If you need a specific Queen and the trump Queen, you bid the specific Queen that you need.

If you need both red Queens (the two directly below trumps), you bid 5S. Partner should go with both of these Queens, or with one of them and the trump Queen.

This seems to cover all situations. Note that the trump Queen is always deemed useful.

Now, suppose hearts are trumps. You do the same thing, except that you start with 4S. 4NT by Responder shows the spade Queen. 4NT by you asks for specifically the spade and heart Queens. 5H asks for the two-below Queens (club and diamond).

This same unwind should work whenever partner, for some reason, is known to have precisely two scattered cards.

Again, the structure of the unwind:

5M = Bid slam if have a card in the suit immediately below this and a card in the suit two below this, or either one and the trump Queen
5new = Bid slam with this card and the missing trump card
4NT = Bid slam with the spade card and the heart card (hearts trumps)
4M+1 = Bid Queens up-the-line
4M+1, 5M-2, 5M-1 = bid slam if you had the 5M-2 Queen and the trump Queen
4M+1, 5M-3, 5M-2 = bid slam with this Queen or the trump Queen, or show the next one
4M+1, 5M-3, 5M-1 = bid slam with this Queen or the trump Queen