One hand from Gryphons II -- May 19, 2001 Jim Plank, with commentary by Kevin Wilson Only one hand this time because I've spent way too long on it already..... ---------------------------------- Board: 19 Dealer: S Vul: E-W You are east, and you hold: S 6542 H D AKQ85 C AJ87 South passes and partner opens 1S. Pass to you and what is your bid? Think before reading on, because I do not think that this one is easy. Obviously, you should be thinking about a slam. If partner has AKxxx,xxx,xxx,xx, then your chances of making the slam are extremely high, and that's a seven count. Given that, 6S is probably an effective bid, and likely to work out in a majority of situations. Doing a quick simulation, out of 20 opening 1S bids opposite 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87, I have the slam being 83%. I'll include them below if you want to nit-pick. More interesting questions are these -- when should you not bid a slam, and when should you bid a grand? Are there bids to help you evaluate those? Obviously, if partner is off the two top spade honors, you should give up on slam. With two of the top three, I think you should go for it. I don't think I'd worry about any other features for slam -- perhaps diamond length is relevant, but I don't think so. On the flip side, for a grand, I think partner needs the AKQ of spades and either six spades, or the king of clubs. Maybe a club stiff would work as well. There are other hands, but were I bidding, I'd confine my exploration to those things. So given that, now what is the best way to find the slams? First off, do you have bids to find the spade honors? In other words, do you play straight Blackwood, or some variant of Roman Key Card? If you play Blackwood, then I think bidding 6S directly over 1S is the best bid. Why? Because you have no way of finding out what you need to know -- slam is a guess, so you should just guess. If you do play Roman Key Card, then you have to figure out how to make it work for you. The hard part is that the ace of hearts gets in the way. If you don't know whether or not partner has it, you will have a hard time evaluating whether or not you should be in your game, slam, or grand. Specifically, if you bid 4N and partner shows 1 key card, should you be in six? I can only think of three ways to deal with this problem. First is to give up on science -- get to your key card bid however you are going to get there, and make up your mind how you are going to deal with the responses. I think I would use the following strategy: - If partner shows zero or three, bid 5S. Pard will correct with three and if you have the agreements, you can explore seven. - If partner shows one, ask for the queen. If partner has it, bid six. Otherwise stay in five. - If partner shows two and no queen, bid 5s. This is because chances are 66% that one of the key cards is the ace of hearts. - If partner shows two and the queen, bid 6s. The second way to deal with the ace-of-heart problem is to try exclusion key card if you have that agreement -- bid 5h over 1s. The problem is now you're way too high to make any effective use of partner's responses. Throw that one out. The third way is to get partner to cue bid the ace of hearts (or lack thereof) at the four level, so that when you bid 4N, you know exactly what the responses mean. We'll see more of this in a bit. Onto the bids. The two bids that come instantly to mind over 1S are 2D, and 4H as a splinter. The splinter bid is the technically ``correct'' one, since you have four trumps, slam-invitational values and a heart void. However, 4H is not very useful here. Partner is very unlikely to make any rebid other than 4S, and now you get to bid 4N without any clue as to the ace of hearts. Granted, you will likely find your 6S contract most of the time, but you'll only find seven when partner has all the key cards. You could have achieved the same thing by just bidding 4N over 1S. The effectiveness of 2D depends on whether your are playing two-over-one bids as game forces or not. If you are playing standard american (i.e. 2D is not a game force), then 2D turns out to be a very bad bid in my opinion. Why? Because if partner bids 2N over 2D, then you cannot set spades as trumps, force to game, and get your key card bid in. Partner can pass 3S, and will pass 4S. 4N will not be key card in spades, and if you bid 3C or even 4C, partner may not correct to spades. If you are playing two-over-one bids as game forces, then you can handle partner's responses better, since you can set trumps at the two or three level, and then 4N should be key card. The other good thing is that if partner bids 2S over 2D, then you may be able to find your grand. The bid I would make over 2S is one that most people (including Kevin, I'm sure) will find disgusting -- 4C. Typically, that should be a splinter in support of spades, but I have convinced my partners that I'd like to play it as an ``Alexander Haig'' bid -- it says "Partner, I am in control!" Partner should treat it like a splinter, and cue-bid aces, but partner shouldn't think I have a stiff club and start blasting off to slam. As in this hand, when I get around to bidding 4N, I'll have better information, because partner's only responses to 4C are 4H, showing the ace of hearts, or 4S, denying it. My last thought would be to bid 2n as a Jacoby spade raise. Typically, this promises game-forcing values, four card spade support and no singletons or voids. So this is a big lie, but the nice thing is that you can handle most of partner's responses. Most people play that - A suit at the three level shows a stiff or void - A suit at the four level shows a real second suit - 3 of the major shows nothing else, but some extra values - 4 of the major shows a balanced minimum Note that after almost all of these responses, I can find out about the ace of hearts via a cue bid, and them make the best use of 4N. If partner responds 4H, I'll assume he has the AH. If partner makes any three-level response or responds 4C, I'll cue bid 4C or 4D and find out about the ace of hearts. The only difficult bids are 4D, which is extremely unlikely given my diamond holding, and 4S. I never really gave thought to why partner might bid 3N after 2N, but this auction leads me to believe that 3N is a much better bid with a balanced minimum, because now I can start cue-bidding at the four level. So, given all that windy prose, here's how all my auctions would go, depending on my bidding system: Blackwood RKC,2D-Standard RKC,2-over-1 Pard Me Pard Me Pard Me 1S 6S 1S 4N 1S 2D 5S 6S 2N 3S 4S 4N 5S 6S RKC,Splinter RKC,Jacoby-2N 1S 4H 1S 2N 4S 4N 3N 4D 5S 6S 4S 4N 5S 5N 6S In these auctions, 4N is Roman Key Card, and 5S shows two key cards plus the queen of spades. In the last auction, 5N asks for parter to bid kings up the line -- if partner shows the king of clubs, I'm bidding seven. Ok -- if anyone is still reading, I've just spent 184 lines to show five ways of getting to the same contract. But the interesting thing is that if you didn't think about it before making your first bid, especially if you blindly bid 2d without thinking about your rebid problem, you may end up with something like the following auction, and miss your slam: Pard You 1S 2D 2N 3C 3N 4S P Moreover, the bidding sequences have different chances of finding the grand, which may well be on with only 23 points between the two hands (partner has AKQxxx,Jxxx,xxx,-). More on that below. The actual hands: S 87 H KJ532 D JT2 C 632 S AKQT9 S 6542 H QT9 H D 96 D AKQ85 C Q54 C AJ87 S J3 H A8764 D 743 C KT9 Seven is indeed cold here since diamonds split three-three. How should play go? If they don't lead a club, I think you draw trumps while ruffing two hearts. When trumps split, you play on diamonds, throwing a heart on the third diamond. When diamonds split, you claim. Had diamonds not split, you can take the club finesse for trick 13. Had they led a club, I'd probably take the hook, since it's a better probability than the 3-3 diamond break (50% versus 40%), and only make six. I don't think that there are enough entries to your hand to take three heart ruffs and pitch two clubs on diamonds. Scores: 1: +1460 -- Only Gloria and Jo Anne found the slam, and they made seven. 1: +710 -- Dave Jerviss and Vincent Carcello missed the slam, but at least made seven. 3: +680 -- The rest were in game making six 1: +650 -- Except for one making five.... More on the bidding. Suppose you figure that there are three situations when the grand is likely to be on: - Partner has AKxxxx of trumps - Partner has AKQxx of trumps and the CK - Partner has AKQxx of trumps and a club stiff or void. Suppose also that you are playing Jacoby 2N, and two-over-one. Then 2D will enable you find the grand in the first case, and 2N will enable you to find it in the others (partner will bid 3C over 2N with the club stiff). Which is more likely? I would guess the second two, but maybe not. We'll see what the simulations say: West East % Bid 6S RKC 2/1-2D J2N KQT73,AKQ76,J72, 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 100 1430 1430 1430 1430 AKT73,KQ63,T,QT3 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 70 971 671 971 971 AKQ73,Q843,J3,Q9 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 100 1430 1430 1430 1430 AKQJT,A98,973,65 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 100 1430 1430 1430 1430 A9873,AQJ8,T4,62 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 0 -100 650 650 650 KJ973,AQ86,62,K9 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 45 588 664 664 664 AQJ98,AQ972,7,K4 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 100 1430 1430 1430 1430 AKQJ9,Q9642,,932 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 80 1124 1124 1124 1124 AK873,J,T94,K943 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 100 1430 680 680 1430 AKJT93,A6,63,T42 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 M7 1460 1460 2210 1460 AQT87,KJ84,J,Q64 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 70 971 971 971 971 AKQ98,AT6,J963,T 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 M7 1460 1460 1460 2210 KQJ97,A953,J6,T5 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 50 665 665 665 665 AKQ93,3,T974,K96 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 M7 1460 1460 1460 2210 AKJT83,843,42,K5 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 M7 1460 710 2210 2210 AJT873,AT2,JT2,Q 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 100 1430 680 1430 1430 KQT97,AK82,T93,4 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 75 1048 1048 1048 1048 AKQJ973,T72,7,93 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 M7 1460 1460 2210 1460 AKQ973,A94,JT6,4 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 M7 1460 1460 2210 2210 AQJ83,A43,J32,65 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 50 665 665 665 665 AKT93,KQJ8,97,Q4 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 75 1048 672 672 1048 KJT83,AJ984,2,K5 6542,,AKQ85,AJ87 75 1048 672 672 672 Averages: 1153 1041 1259 1310 As far as finding the grand, 2D and 2N are ties, but 2N lets you know about the AH in some cases, and that tilts the balance in favor of that bid. Interestingly, blasting to six does better than bidding 4N as RKC. Ok, I've more than beaten this to death.... Kevin: Wow. I'm surprised that nobody considered 5s over 1s. I think this says go with strong trumps. My analysis is that we clearly have enough tricks for a slam, the questions are whether or not we have 2 trump losers and whether or not we have a grand. I agree that 4h is a wasted bid in this auction, because it doesn't really help with the description and it almost always will draw 4S, given your power in diamonds and the ace of clubs. I think 2N is probably my choice. With this bid I can find out a couple of things. First, if partner has a singleton club (great) or a singleton diamond (horrible). It certainly sets trumps and encourages partner not to just jump to 4s. My planned auction would be to bid 5s over a 4s bid in the auction I just suggested and leave the ultimate decision to partner.