```       Bidding Challenge #1 from Gryphons II -- June 8, 2001
Kevin Wilson, with an afterword by Jim Plank

To review, here was the problem:

Matchpoints
All Vul

S KQx
H 9xx
D K8xx
C AJx

Bidding:

Partner   You
1H       2D
4NT      5D
6D       ?

Enemy passes throughout.

You may assume that you are playing Standard American
bidding (not 2/1), and regular Blackwood.

Kevin's analysis:

I think there are several important inferences on this
hand.  One problem with playing Standard is that there is
no convienent way to show a raise of responder's suit and a
very strong hand.  After 1H - 2D - now what?

- 3D is not forcing.
- 4D takes up a lot of space and leaves only a tiny
bit of room for cuebidding.
- Sure, 2S and 3C are forcing but then partner will
never believe that you have diamonds with him.

I think that 4NT says that partner believes that there are
12 tricks present if he doesn't have 2 immediate losers
first.  He is choosing to be captain.

The next point is about the Aces.  On this auction, we are
definitely missing an Ace.  Since 2D shows an unlimited
guarantee all the Aces if we have them.  He doesn't know if
I am looking at a solid side suit that can take many
tricks, so when he does choose to captain while I am still
unlimited, then he is obligated to guarantee all the aces
if we have them.  So we are missing an Ace.  Also, he has

Next, the only other thing that I suspect partner thinks
about my hand is that I probably have 5 diamonds.  So part
of his 12 tricks are 5 diamonds.  This, I think is
critical.  Almost everybody that answered thinks that
partner has 10 red cards and most everybody thought he was
probably 5-5. They also think his hearts are solid because
its hard to imagine a hand that partner didn't open 2C but
that he was strong enough to bid Blackwood over a 2D
response.  In my experience, when partner jumps like this,
he is usually gambling a little because he visualizes 12
tricks, not because he has some massive high card count.  I
would also think that partner has 10 or 11 red cards, but
if its only 10 then I think I should consider the
possibility that he is 6-4 in hearts and diamonds with
solid hearts.  Almost everyone seems to agree that he has
solid hearts.

This is what he needs to be able to visualize 12 tricks: 6
hearts, 5 diamonds, and the ace that I showed.  If he was
looking at a King then he might consider 6H himself to
protect it.  He knows that by bidding 6D, if he had a king,
it would not be protected.  So I think that if he wre
5-5-2-1 with a Kx, that he would not immediately try for a
slam, and that if he were 6-4-2-1 with a Kx then he would
try 6H himself to protect it.  By his bidding this way, he
thinks we have 12 tricks or that he can't get enough
information at a low enough level to make this
determination.

This brings me to the most important point.  I only have 4
diamonds!  So we have 6 hearts, 4 diamonds, and my ace of
clubs.  That is only 11 tricks.  Our 12th trick must come
from either spades or diamonds.  If I were sure that the
enemy would lead a spade, then I would bid 6NT. But since
they might lead a club, then we may not have enough time to
develop a 12th trick in notrump.  What about hearts or
diamonds?  In hearts then there can be no 5th trick in
diamonds if pard is 6-4. But in diamonds, then I can draw 3
rounds of trump and then run all the hearts and have 3
pitches for whichever black suit we have a loser in, and
score a ruff in my hand.  So then we would have our 12th
trick.

All this leads me to believe that pass is the best action,
with 6H and 6N being very close.  6H would win if pard was
2-6-4-1 and they led clubs but 6N would win whenever they
led spades, or it couldn't be worse if pard was 1-6-4-2.
6nt also wins whenever pard is 1-6-5-1, so I score it
slightly higher then 6H. I expect partner to be 6-4 in
hearts and diamonds and have solid hearts and very good
diamonds.

The scoring:

- 6D    90 + any good reasoning like above will get up to 100
- 6N    60 + up to another 10
- 6H    50 + up to another 10
- 7D    10
- anything else scores 0

In actuality, I had the other hand...

x
AKQxxx
AQJx
xx

Argue that I didn't have my bid if you want, but I thought
I could see 12 tricks, and I could never have room for pard
to cuebid a second round club control if he had the ace of
spades.  Also, I thought 6D might protect his K of clubs.

I was in the 6H camp, figuring partner needed either
two bullets in the black suits, or the SA and a stuff
club to bid Blackwood.  Maybe a stiff spade and KQ
tight of clubs.  Given all that, it seemed to me that
we won't have to worry about a black suit loser, so
we'll be getting the same tricks in diamonds and
hearts.  6N seemed like courting disaster after a club
lead.  So it goes -- all I can say is that when I make
a bid like that, partner has the ace of spades and
after the opponents cash two club tricks, I get to
listen to one or both of them dissert on why they
never bid Blackwood with a dead doubleton......

Of those who answered, here are the breakdowns:

6h   : 9
6n   : 7
Pass : 6
7d   : 1

Here are some of the comments -- if you would like me to omit

From the passers.  Most didn't like the 2D bid to begin with:

From Bill Eddy:

I would PASS!!!   I do not have much beyond the
11 points I would need to respond at the two level and
do not have a 5 card suit in Diamonds which I would
normally have wanted in order to make the two diamond
response.  I WOULD TRUST MY PARTNER.

From Mike Cappelletti Jr:

Pass.  Wouldn't have made the 2D bid and would've
answered Key Card.  However, if I can bid 2D with this
hand, partner must be 5-5 in hearts and diamonds.
Therefore, why correct to hearts on 3 little?  As an
afterthought, a simpler answer is "who invited me..."
Partner is captain, partner asked for aces and set the
contract.  Obviously hearts and NT could be better
contracts, but since partner didn't ask my opinion, I
am not allowed to correct.

From Dave Jerviss:

Diamonds instead of 3 no trump.  No extras that
partner is not aware of.

From Geoff Greene:

Is it a correct answer to say I wouldn't play (twice,
anyway) with someone who bid this way?  The 4 NT is
irresponsible.  I subscribe to the theory that my
partner is all seeing and all knowing.  I'll trust him
and pass.

Brooks gives a detailed analysis, and like most everyone
except Kevin, is giving declarer 5-5 in the red suits.
However, Brooks sees where diamonds may play better
than hearts:

I cannot think of anything to do but pass.  Partner
controlled the auction, and I don't possess anything
sufficiently surprising to overrule him.  Assuming
he's not a total idiot, he has a singleton spade and
we're missing the A or we're missing the HA.

Most possible hands will look like:

x AKxxx AQxxx Kx as a minimum
A KQxxx AQxxx KQ as a max

The key will always be how good his hearts are.
Obviously if theu're headed by AKQ, we have reasonable
play for 6H or 6N. If they are AKQJx(x) with good
diamonds, then both alternative contracts are probably
preferable to 6D. If he has the CQ or a red card, the
spade loser goes away in a suit contract.  If the
spade singleton is the SJ or the A is onside, I can
generate two heart discards and maybe another in
clubs.

I guess my analysis should include deciding what the
likely contracts will be at the other tables, but in
general, I find this analysis highly error-prone and a
waste of time.

6D will still have some play opposite AKxxx in hearts
and the CK (eg, x AKxxx AQxxx Kx; and may be cold
opposite J AKxxx AQxxx KQ) since I may be able to get
rid of dummy's heart losers.  If another contract
turns out to be preferable, discuss the auction in
detail at some later date.  Maybe partner took control
too early.

Mike Waters has declarer with longer hearts than diamonds, but
like many others, corrected to 6H:

I bid 6H, if partner has broken heart suit, the
contract will likely hinge on a finesse in either
hearts or diamonds, so play in top scoring strain.
Partner didn't splinter, but likely has singleton (or
two) and shouldn't have a void (used Blackwood) and
partner didn't investigate grand, so off an ace or
hearts or diamonds aren't "solid." Would have jumped
to 3H with solid hearts and either has diamond
length/strength or playing you for doubleton heart.
Possible hands:

S Ax                         S x
H AQJ1098                    H AK8764
D A10876                     D AQJ9
C x                          C Kx

In fact, pretty much all of the 6H bidders said similar things.
From Connie Anderson:

I believe I would "correct" to 6H. I do not have 5
diamonds, I have a king more than partner may expect,
and I do have 3 card heart support.  I'd assume
partner is at least 5-5. He may have more hearts than
diamonds (otherwise we'd open our longest suit first).
If we have heart losers, we have them in diamonds as
well and at matchpoints, hearts score better.  I'm not
bidding NT since partner knows more about my hand than
his and he may be VERY distributional, but he should
not have a void since he used Blackwood to ask for
aces.  By the same token, he should not have two quick
losers in the black suits either; but a club lead
through me since he bid nt first might not be good.
Anyway, right or wrong, that's my reasoning.

Most of the 6N bidders are more flippant, going for a top:

Jerry Vaughan:

I hate my partner!  I'm bidding 6NT, and going for the
gold, I give pard this hand: x,AKQJxx,AQTxx,x, nothing
else justifies his actions, I'm a K better than he has
a right to expect playing SAYC............so in for a
penny in for a pound.........

Bill Wilson (Kevin's Brother):

6nt, what the hell, feels right.

Enjoy.

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