Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Resolving Pressure

Had an auction this weekend:


With the pressure bid, Opener was forced to raise clubs at a level that made it very uncomfortable for Responder to show that his club bid was "manufactured" and that he had spade support. I mean, 4♠ works, except that the range for 4♠ is now minimum GF to seriously interested in slam. How does one handle this, let alone moving toward slam?

Flags work here:

4♦ = club power acceptance
4♥ = spade power raise
4♠ = normal spade raise
5♠ = non-interesting club resolution

Then, a bit later, another intervention:


In this sequence, GP suggests a different structure than would be expected. The risk of further trouble (we actually heard 5♥ next from Advancer) is greatest when Opener has shortness in hearts. With length and an honor control, in contrast, high-level heart competition is of reduced risk. So, it seems that the fourth-suit splinter (4♦) would be better delayed through 3♥ to allow 4♦ to show something different, something heart-shortness oriented.

Our thoughts for spade raises:

4♣ = good clubs, maybe no diamond control, heart shortness control
4♦ = diamond control, heart stiff
4♥ = diamond control, heart void
4♠ = no heart control
3♥ = catch-all, typically with a heart honor control

In other words, focus on the immediate need to show as much as you can immediately when Opener has heart shortness.

In practice, the opponents were red and we were white. Advancer bid 5♥, doubled for +800, but our slam was making. Had Responder known that Opener had a diamond control and a heart void, his K-QJ combo of honors would have grown up and the slam might have been bid successfully.

I'm not sure how this translates into other auctions, but it seems like a steps structure works best when spades will be agreed. In other words, if the overcall had been diamonds, 4♥ would still show the void and 4♦ the stiff.


GK said...

A logical concept here - I would treat 4NT as the power club raise and 4D as an artificial slam try in spades. 4NT could only be bid on no worse than 2nd round heart control.

Kenneth Rexford, Esq. said...

Similar to what we were thinking, except that I do not usually use 4NT as RKCB for the minor. Hence, 4D is "RKCB" and 4H would be "spade last train."

Reversing this makes some sense, such that 4H would be club-oriented and 4D spade oriented, except that this does not gain much. Our way, 4H is actually the club RKCB (cheapest out-of-focus major), with 4D flagging clubs and allowing Opener to bid 4H as RKCB or to cue or otherwise bid intelligently. As Opener likely has the shape, it seemed wise to have him ask.

GK said...

Agreed about 4NT not possibly being good for the RKCB ask in a minor (some argument for 6ARKCB but when are we going to hold that hand?).

Kenneth Rexford, Esq. said...

Possibly. If I were to incorporate 6KCB, I would probably use the cheapest call for that (4D) and then 4H for RKCB clubs, 4NT RKCB spades, 4S to play.

Nick said...

Just regarding the first scenario: Do you occasionally manufacture a 2C response to a 1H opening bid, too? If so, it might be sensible to reverse the 4D and 4H bids in the given case, out of consistency for when opener bids 1H and you get pre-empted by 3S. The structure becomes:

4D: major power raise
4M our suit: normal raise
4M their suit: "RKCB" or however else you would treat it, agreeing clubs

Sacrifices a little bit of utility in the given case, for consistency.