Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shanghai Deal #10

A very fascinating hand came up in the last round of the semi-finals between USA 1 and South Africa.

Opener: KJx-AK10xx-AK-A10x
Responder: Axxx-x-Qxxx-Kxxx

Opener has a roughly balanced hand (especially is using Puppet Stayman) with at least 22 HCP's in strength. However, I think it is stronger. Using a tool I learned for re-evaluating the strength of Aces, I multiply 3.33 by the number of controls (A=2, K=1) to get a result. Here, that result is 30. I subtract the actual HCP's from that number (30-22=8). If that value is positive, I will adjust up; negative, I adjust down. The up/down is +1 for a 2-5 sum, +2 for a 6-8 sum, or +3 for a 9+ sum. This would give me a +2 adjustment up, for a 24-count. I'm OK with that because this hand features two working 10's and a very strong 5-card suit.

So, my intention will be to open 2C and bid Kokish 2H to eventually show a balanced hand with 24+ HCP's (as adjusted).

Partner responds with the systemic 2D response, artificial and GF without a positive in a suit.

I start with Kokish, but partner surprises me by not bidding 2S. Partner is allowed to reject the relay with a 4441 hand, bidding his stiff, or 2NT with a stiff spade. The 2NT with a stiff spade call saves valuable space. In any event, he bids 3H, showing a stiff heart.

So much for this heart suit. I now have no fit. Had I held hearts with a second suit, it seems that I would agree that second suit by bidding it, establishing a GF below game (so we can cuebid, of course). If I held a sixth heart but no side suit, or a heart suit that fell apart opposite the stiff, I might bid 3NT. I also will bid 3NT with this type of hand.

Partner cannot stand it, however. He is looking at a nine-count. Surely he will invite slam, eh? Maybe a 4NT call?

I'm not all that certain where this one will end up, but it would be nice for Opener to know that his heart suit is not coming in. Maybe we end up in the 5NT or 6NT contract that USA 1 and South Africa tried and failed. Maybe we stop. That's that damned judgment popping back in. But, I think I like my chances better after this sequence than after either of their sequences.

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