Three hands from Gryphons II -- May 5, 2001
               Jim Plank, with commentary by Kevin Wilson

Again, I missed saturday's game, but Kevin said that there were 
two slam hands of interest.  The first is board 12:

Board: 12   Dealer: W    Vul: N-S

I think the interesting decision seat is south.  You have:

         H A7653
         D 65
         C AKJT73

and the bidding proceeds rather rapidly to you:

   W     N     E
   2S    3D    4S

Any clues as to what to bid?  I think all bids are unappealing:

   - 5C is unilateral, giving up on diamonds and hearts as a
     possible contract.

   - 5D is also unilateral, giving up on hearts or clubs.

   - 5H is insane.

   - X is probably safe, but chances are you're missing a game
     or slam -- you have to set them at least four tricks, and
     that may not be happening.

   - 5S is probably the most flexible in finding the right suit,
     but you're committing yourself to slam when it might not be

What can we give partner?  Suppose partner has a 14-count with
three to four points wasted in spades.  What points are
available?  Eighteen: six in hearts, ten in diamonds, and two in
clubs.  If partner has nothing wasted in spades, we should make
slam in any suit in which we have a fit.  Otherwise, I don't
know -- I'm guessing it will come down to partner's diamond
cards and the club finesse.  I'm guessing I would wimpily bid 5c
at the table and pray that it's right.

      Kevin: I do not think that there is a clear-cut bid.  I do
             think that there is a diminished chance that
             partner has 4 hearts (becuase he didn't make the
             more flexible bid of double over 2S) and he
             definitely doesn't have 5 hearts.  Another thing to
             consider is that it appears that partner is
             somewhat balanced because of our spade void.
             Aren't there some hands where partner has spade HCP
             that he stretches and bids 2NT?  The culmination of
             this is that I would double only if I played
             responsive doubles as high as 4S (which normally I
             do not) and otherwise I would bid 6C. I think we
             have potential for 12 tricks in many different

Ok, time to simulate.  Of 1000 hands opposite mine, here are nine
that have between 13 and 16 points, at least five diamonds, and
no more than three spades:

,A7653,65,AKJT73 KJ,T82,AKQJ9,542 -- 6c depends on the opening lead and/or
                                     the club finesse.  Call it 80%.  6h
                                     is down, down, down, and I don't think
                                     we're finding 6c on any auction.
,A7653,65,AKJT73 A9,QJ94,AQJT4,86 -- 6h is close to 100% I think.
,A7653,65,AKJT73 6,K94,AKQJT8,865 -- 6d is 100%.
,A7653,65,AKJT73 K72,K2,AQJ732,Q9 -- 6d is 100%
,A7653,65,AKJT73 Q83,QT84,AKQ98,Q -- 6h is a little above 50%.
,A7653,65,AKJT73 7,KT842,AKQJ2,82 -- 6h should be 100%.  Of course, partner
                                     would bid 3h instead of 3d....
,A7653,65,AKJT73 KQ3,Q2,AT983,Q98 -- nothing.
,A7653,65,AKJT73 KJ2,J94,AKQT4,65 -- 6h is going down.
,A7653,65,AKJT73 AQT,QT84,AJT98,2 -- 6h is a little above 50%.

Of course the sample size is too small, but I think these hands
indicate that double is probably the best choice.  If partner
pulls it, bid a slam.  I don't think 5s is the best since it
gets you into very bad slams on hands one, eight and nine.  And
these are definitely the hands in which partner will let the
double sit.  On all the others, I think partner has some reason
to pull the double, but of course may not.  Life is not perfect.

   Kevin: This is only nine hands.  Partner might double with
          hands 2 & 5. Partner might bid 2NT with #'s 7, 8, & 9.
          And partner might bid 4D (roman jumps, showing
          diamonds and hearts) with hand #6. So in 6 of these 9
          hands simulated partner might have taken different
          actions... I refuse to accept this data.

In actuality, here are the hands:

Board: 12   Dealer: W    Vul: N-S

         S T8
         H 98
         D AKQJ42
         C Q96

S AKQ643        S J9752
H T2            H KQJ4
D 983           D T7
C 52            C 84

         H A7653
         D 65
         C AKJT73

In my mind, the 2s and 4s bids are pretty clear cut, although I
imagine some people will think that west is too strong for 2s.
I think east has way too much defense to bid 5s at any time.

Would north pull the double of 4s to 5d?  I don't know, but it's
a good route to 6d, which is cold for 7. The scores:

      1: 1740 -- Vincent C. and Mildred found their way to 6d
                 or 6c, doubled.  Ouch.
      2: 1390 -- 6 of a minor: Sharon/Elaine B. and Geoff/Carol
      2:  640 -- 5 of a minor
      1:  300 -- 4s doubled, down two
      2:  150 -- 5s undoubled, down three?

    Kevin: At one table I witnessed the auction 2S-3D-4S-X-P,
           and it was passed with relative little decision.
           This makes me think X is not correct and 5S might be
           confusing.  I guess my final thought is that this
           hand is not worth spending too much partnership time
           on.  Spend the time on what the meanings of X, 5S, 
           and 5NT are and then move on.

           I don't know that there is a standard meaning to
           these bids which is why I recommend that you build
           agreements and then write them down.  Playing that
           doubles are responsive and not penalty when you are
           in a competitive (preempt - bid - raise of preempt -
           ?) auction is a good agreement.  (I'm assuming that
           everyone understands responsive doubles, if not then
           that's a future lesson)

           Playing flexible doubles in ambiguous situations
           gives you a lot because you can always remember what
           bidding a new suit means.  As a passed hand (this is
           theory here) double is penalty and new suits show a
           tolerance for partner's suit.  I think 5S probably
           shows diamond support, as well as 1st round spade
           control and a suit that might be a source of tricks
           for 7 if partner has fillers.  It certainly
           encourages parnter to bid 7. 5nt could be taken as
           Grand Slam Force (which is why I bid 6c) but I think
           it should be choose a minor suit slam (this hand with
           a 3rd diamond to a high honor)

The second interesting board was board 19.  You are north:

Board: 19   Dealer: S    Vul: E-W

         S AQ62
         H AJ87
         D KQT
         C A3

You are all set to open 2N and display your effortless command
of puppet stayman, when partner throws a wrench in the works by
opening 1D.  1H by you, and of course partner bids 1N. Now what?
Well, if we assume that partner uses the rule-of-20 to open,
chances are that partner has at least 12 points.  Even with a
2254 eleven count, partner will be likely to bid 2c instead of
1n, but you never know.  I'd say that is the only 11-count that
partner will open.

The books all say that you should have 33 points if you're
reaching a notrump slam with balanced hands.  If partner does
not have a five-card diamond suit, then the only hand where he
does not have 13 points, is if he's 4-4 in the minors.
Otherwise, he either has 13 points or a 5-card diamond suit.  I
think the odds favor blasting to 6n, and watching partner once
again get to declare a hand that you should be declaring.  The

         S AQ62
         H AJ87
         D KQT
         C A3

S J843          S T7
H T5            H 6432
D A653          D 74
C 987           C QT652

         S K95
         H KQ9
         D J982
         C KJ4

Cold for 6, and note, had you invited to 6 with a bid of 4n
(which should be a quantitative invitation, and *not*
blackwood), partner would probably pass.

The scores:

          5:  990 6N+6
          1:  480 I'm guessing that's 4H+6
          1:  -50 Did people end up in 6s?
          1: -100

     Kevin:  I agree, just blast to 6NT and hope pard makes it.

             I'm not sure how the people went down but my guess
             is that they tried to see if spades were breaking
             before knocking out the A of diamonds.  This should
             be a beginning declarer play problem.  Counting
             your tricks will lead you to the correct line.  
             4H, 3D, 3S, and 2C. Note that even with 4 spade
             tricks you still don't have enought to make 12.

One of the hardest parts of the game in my opinion is
competitive part-score bidding.  I'll give you all four hands
here, and give my comments on the bidding.

Board: 17   Dealer: N    Vul: None

         S 5
         H J5
         D QJ72
         C KJT642

S KQ762         S T3
H K76           H AQT843
D 9             D KT6
C 9873          C Q5

         S AJ984
         H 92
         D A8543
         C A

North passes, and east opens 1H. All easy enough.  Now south
needs to choose between 2H as a Michael's cue bid, and 1s.  I
would bid 1s, since I like to be either weak (8-11) or strong
(16+) to make a Michael's bid.  With this one, I'll bid 1s and
come on in with 3d if I can.

West now has to decide between a slightly conservative 2h, or an
overly aggressive 2s, showing at least a playing 10 count in
support of hearts.  I think I'd bid 2h, since my spade values,
although well situated, are going to be hard to get to, given
north's shortness.  Over 2h, or even 2s, should north chance 3c
just to get it off his chest?  I don't know -- I probably would,
just for the hell of it.  Again, regardless, east will bid 3h,
and that wlil probably end it.

But who knows -- I'm guessing there are 50 difference sequences
for this set of hands, and I'll be interested in hearing Kevin's
analysis of the choices at each posistion.

    Kevin: You're right Jim.  There are numerous possibilities
           for these hands.  I bet some norths would open 3C and
           some easts would open 2H. But lets go with your
           auction of P - 1H. I agree that 1S is better then 2H
           with these cards.  Next, 2H from west seems clearcut.
           I don't think its a slight underbid at all.  Now to
           North.  If I played responsive doubles then this
           action seems easy.  Without responsive doubles, I would
           probably bid 2NT. It seems like we should be able to
           compete to the 3 level.  I wish I had a stiff heart
           and a doubleton spade, but oh well.  3H from E is
           next.  I think the decision of bidding 4d will be
           left to south... I probably wouldn't...

One decision that didn't appear to work well here is south's
decision to bid 1s instead of 2h, since N/S never found their
diamond fit.  However, I think even over 2h, N/S will not find
their diamond fit, since west will definitely show heart
support at the three level.

From the realm of total tricks, if north can somehow know that
south has five diamonds, then north has a nice evaluation of
whether to push to 4D over 3H. There are 18 total tricks here,
so if 3H is making, 4d is down one.  If 3H is down any number,
then 4d is making.  So equipped with that information, north
should bid 4d over 3h.  It certainly works here (3h should be
down 1, and 4d should be making on the nose).

     Kevin: Excellent analysis here.  If you are fairly sure of
            the facts (18 total trumps) then bid 4d whenever you
            are not vulnerable regardless of the enemy

The scores:

         1: 300 doubling and beating 4H, I'm guessing.
         1: 130 -- diamonds or clubs
         1: 100 -- 4h down two
         2:  50 -- 3h down one
         1: -50 -- ??
         1:-140 -- 3h making.

One final point about this hand.  Suppose you are west, holding
your cards behind the dummy against 4d.

         S 5
         H J5
         D QJ72
         C KJT642

                S T3
                H AQT843
                D KT6
                C Q5

The DQ is led, and do you cover or duck smoothly?  Decide quickly....

I think covering is 100% wrong.  If they're in diamonds, partner
has at most two diamonds, and may well have a singleton.  If it's
the singleton ace, you have just coalesced your winners nicely
for declarer.  With any other holding, you don't promote anything
by covering -- if parther has 9x, you gain nothing, and if partner
has the gold mine of the A9, you give up your only chance to take
three diamonds by covering.  Of course, if partner has A9, declarer
shouldn't lead the DQ, but sometimes declarers do odd things.....

    Kevin:  It would have been a better problem if your holding was 
            KT doubleton...  Jim, why don't you answer this one before 
            you publish this...

Ok -- with KT doubleton, you cover, and hope that:
       1. Partner does not have the stiff ace 
       2. Declarer has A98x or A98xx.  With these holdings, 
          declarer has to decide whether to finesse partner for
          the ten, and you may win it.