Flowers Sent with Empathy
Three passes. You hold AJx-x-AK109-Axxxx and open 1C (standard). Dealer intervenes with a 1H overcall, and partner jumps to 2S, a Flower Bid, showing good club support (at least Qxxx), five spades, shortness somewhere, and some general values.
You expect a classic hand to look like KQxxx-xxx-x-H(H)xx.
This sure looks like a potential slam hand. You agree on spades as trumps by bidding 3H (artificial, agreeing spades), asking for the shortness and whether partner has a control in the fourth suit. Partner shows a stiff diamond without a heart control (4D). Now what?
Your obvious call seems to be 4H, Last Train. If partner holds better-than-expected clubs, he will accept, and you will probably declare, and make, 6C. As it is, his hand is KQxxx-xxx-x-Qxxx, and he resigns to the 4S contract that is played almost everywhere.
In the match between Australia and USA I, Australia seems to have used a fit-showing Flower Bid of 2S, as described, but Opener jumped to 4S. Unless they systemically have agreed that this call is weaker than in my methods or that 2S simply shows spades and not a side club fit, 4S seems uninspiring, but lucky.
USA I reached the poor slam with a strange auction. The three passes and first two calls were the same. Responder, however, doubled 1H, whatever that means. Advancer then jumped to 3H, inducing a double from Opener (support?). Responder next bid 4H.
This 4H call is curious, as it looks like an Empathetic Splinter, a call that would make sense in this sequence with this hand. Opener, uncertain about the overall strength, bid 4NT, apparently asking for Aces. Responder leaped to 6C.
I'm not sure what precisely was going on for USA I. Whatever was occurring, it seems that one of the two overbid the hand. I am leaning toward a guess that Responder overbid, as the leap to an Aceless 6C, with the mere club Queen, seems a bit rich. If 4H was, indeed, a slam try, and perhaps even an Empathetic Splinter, the tale has been told, and quite loudly. I wish that I knew what was actually occurring.