Answers to Problems from the 2014 Reno Regional

Today's panelists: David Caprera, Len Vishnevsky, Bob Thomson, Mike Shuster, David Grainger, Kenneth Rexford, Mark Bartusek, Barry Rigal, Robb Gordon, Chris Willenken, Ed Davis

All at IMPs

  1. both vul, you hold

     S:x H:Axx D:KJx C:AKxxxx

    You LHO CHO RHO
    1C: 1S: Dbl 3S:
    ?


    DAVIDC
    Dbl. Maybe I can bring back -730. Should be unanimous. [Dream on, but close! --Jeff]
    LEN
    Dbl
    BOB
    4C:. Iím almost worth 5C:, but sometimes partner is 3442 with a minimum. Partner will raise most of the time when we have game.
    MIKE
    Double, if not for penalty, should show something like this shape. If I don't have an agreement about double, then 4S:. [Double is any hand with extras and no convenient action. What else can you do with 18-19 balanced and no spade stopper? --Jeff]
    DAVIDG
    Double. Seems out of a textbook.
    KENNETH
    [Double] #1 is interesting to me, from a theory perspective. Suppose the bidding had gone 1C:-1S:-X-P to me. In that sequence, I would play 3D: (jump reverse) as showing a strong hand with long clubs and a heart fragment. 3S:, however, has taken away my ability to make that call, let alone the substitute of a support double. Not that this hand qualifies, but I see a utility to having 4D: as an either-or, showing either the hand that would have bid 1C:-1S:-X-P-2D: (the reverse hand) or the hand that would have bid 1C:-1S:-X-P-3D:. Partner, in that agreement, could try 4H:, which I would correct with the latter, or could bid 4S: as a punt bid if he prefers diamonds to clubs.

    In practice, 4D: has some appeal even without discussion, but the hand is not really strong enough, IMO. 4C:, however, has the appeal of showing strength of some sort while also keeping 4H: as an option. All that being said, double seems best. While not strictly "support," double here seems like "do something intelligent" and takeout-ish.

    MARK
    Double. Seems completely normal to me. Might be cold for 3NT or 4H: opposite extra length.
    BARRY
    Dbl. Poster boy for this action. Partner strains to bid 3NT with a stopper but can bid 4H: with five.

    Will pass 4C: I think; donít see why that should be forcing. [Me, either, though this hand gets better with club support. --Jeff]

    ROBB
    Dbl
    CHRIS
    Dbl—an easy choice in the modern style.
    ED
    Double. (It shows three hearts and extra values, typically 1=3 or 2=3 in the majors---pretty standard treatment I think). [In my opinion, that's what double shows over 2S:. Over 3S:, I think it has to be more flexible. --Jeff]
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    wasn't there, but said I thought double was clear, but pass was not horrible. Partner passed and thought the decision was between pass and 4C:, which seems wrong to me.
    WINNING ACTION
    Double, big time. Partner has a 4432 7-count and passes for 800. 5C: is a lucky make, but unless you bid it on your own, you won't get there.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass0
    Double11
    4C:1
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    OK, double is obvious. Since my partner thought double wasn't in the picture, and one of my teammates (a good player) thought it very close between pass and double, I judged that this was closer than it is. Double is clear.

  2. none vul, you hold

     S:xxxxxx H:x D:Kxx C:AKJ

    CHO RHO You LHO
    2C: Pass2D: Pass
    2H: Pass2S: Pass
    3C: Pass3S: Pass
    4H: Pass?

    2D: = semiautomatic
    2H: = Kokish, a puppet to 2S:
    2S: = forced (or nearly so)
    3C: = single-suiter in hearts; in response to that, 3D: is a double negative


    DAVIDC
    5NT pick one. Will pass 6H: but will correct 6S: to 6NT.
    LEN
    5C:
    BOB
    [5NT.] All partner knows is that I have spades and not a double-negative? I have more than that! Could partner possibly have as little as  S:K H:AKQJxxx D:AQJ C:Qx? Iím more afraid of  S:A H:AKQTxx D:AQx C:Qxx. I think Iíll bid 5NT and hope partner understands Iím looking for truly solid hearts for a seven bid. If weíre off the ace of spades, thatís just tough.
    MIKE
    5NT. Let partner pick. If hearts are playable opposite a stiff, I expect him to choose that strain. [But our spades are not playable vs. a non-raise (OK, maybe AK tight), and it seems pretty unlikely that if we have two heart losers that 6NT will make, so what other contract is under consideration? --Jeff]
    DAVIDG
    5C:
    KENNETH
    [5S:] Curious. Partner seems to have a one-suiter in hearts when nothing more is said. However, he had two other options, I am sure. 2C:-P-2D:-P-4H: surely is one-suited? Also, would 2C:-P-2D:-P-2H:-P-2S:-P-4H: also be one-suited? I am not sure what the third, slowest way to show one-suited hearts means. As I do not know the system, these questions seem important.

    That being said, general principles seem to apply here. I cannot imagine having any holding where breaking off of 4H: here means something other than hearts support while having not broken the relay earlier. Hence, 4S:, 5C:, and 5D: all need to be cues in support of hearts. In that context, 5C: as a cue with club values but nothing neat to say in spades seems reasonable. A fun alternative, however, is a Bluhmer—5S:. Because I like fun alternatives, that's my call.

    MARK
    4NT. I'm forcing to slam with this hand unless partner only shows 3 without the Queen (playing 3014). I assume a jump to 3H: by partner on the 2nd round would have shown a solid suit and asked for cue bidding? A relevant question is how do people play a jump to 4H: by partner on the 2nd round? [I play it is a quirky 2C: opening with about 10 tricks in hand and not as much defense as normal, plus with some reason to fear that 1H: might get passed out. Say  S:A10x H:KQJ1098xx D:AK C:, maybe. --Jeff]
    BARRY
    6H:. (I play 2NT over 2H: is spades so as to rightside that suit.) No idea what is right and 5H: doesnít seem enough.

    5NT won't get me a sensible response so why bother?

    ROBB
    5H:
    CHRIS
    RKC, intending to bid seven if pard has everything.
    ED
    4NT. My minor suit tricks make it likely we have a slam. I can show my interest in a grand slam by asking for keycards (with hearts implicitly trumps) and then for kings if we have all the keycards. Partner will infer that I have more than just an ace and a king to bid 4NT and I expect him to bid 7H: if I subsequently ask for kings with something like  S:A H:AKQJxxx D:AQJx C:x where he expects it to be laydown or on a diamond finesse. [Would partner really sign off in 4H: with that much? --Jeff]
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    5H:. Since partner didn't ever jump in hearts, I assumed he didn't have solid hearts. Since I have a stiff, that means we rate to have a trump loser. Which means we have to (a) avoid two heart losers, and (b) be solid outside. I didn't know how to solve (a), and upon reflection, I think (b) is pretty likely.
    WINNING ACTION
    get to 6H:. Partner was misbidding with  S:A H:KQJ1098xx D:A C:10xx. 5H: won't (it didn't, anyway) get you there, but 5C: probably will. Interestingly, I would not have made the same bid as partner did on any of his first three actions.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    4NT3
    5C:2
    5H:2
    5S:1
    5NT3
    6H:1

    PlanVotes
    Invite Slam4
    Drive to Slam8

    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    This is a good problem, but there really isn't a good answer. For a while, I liked 4NT. If we have all the key cards, why not let partner know? Because he doesn't have solid hearts (no jump given three chances). Which means vs. my stiff, we have a significant chance of a heart loser. That's OK to bid a small, but it is not OK for a grand. And even after six different suggestions, I have no idea how to reach 6H: when it is good and avoid it when it is bad. So, upon reflection, I think it's best just to bid 6H:. That rates to be the right contract, and I don't see anything else to do.

  3. Both vul, you are dealer with

     S:A H:AQxx D:AKx C:AK10xx

    What's your plan?


    DAVIDC
    2C:-2D:-3C:, with 3D: Staymanesque available to responder. I do not like treating this hand as a big notrump. 6 of either round suit could be cold with 3NT's failing.
    LEN
    1C:. As you did, right?
    BOB
    2C: followed by 3C:. If partner bids a double-negative 3D:, I can bid 3H:—if not, we have more bidding space. [Less bidding space? --Jeff]
    MIKE
    [2C: then 3C:] I plan to adopt Precision. Actually, I already have in some partnerships. 2C:. I'm not opening a 1-bid with a 2.75-loser hand. I'll rebid 3C: though; this hand is good for suit play, so I'll bid a suit and hope partner can bid 3-red over 3C:. And that we didn't agree to use 3D: as 2nd negative.
    DAVIDG
    2C:-2D:;3C:-3D:;3H: is my plan. When partner bids 3S: over 3C:, I'm stuck bidding 3NT. [Yeah, which is an awful auction; you have fewer clubs and less notrump and more power than you have shown. The only thing which could be worse is...if partner raises clubs. --Jeff]
    KENNETH
    [2C:-2D:; 2H:-2S:; 2NT] #3 is easy for me, because I like a different tool for Kokish situations. (Google "Rexfordized Kokish.") I would with that tool open 2C:, planning a 2H: relay to show a club-heart canapť with fewer than three spades.

    But, assuming that I lack that tool, a natural 2C: approach works, because I have clubs. I can rebid 3C:, which allows partner to bid 3D: if he wants to know about 4-card majors. I have a nice tool there, as well. If partner has 5S:/4H:, he bids 3D: to ask about 4-card majors. If I have hearts (like here), I rebid 3NT. With no 4-card majors, I bid a waiting 3H: to allow him to rebid 3S: if he wants.

    Alas, I have no fun tools? OK, then I suppose I will treat this as a strong NT hand through mundane Kokish. Stiff Aces are really good doubletons.

    MARK
    2C: followed by 3C:. Then 3H: over partner's "temporizing" 3D: (generally denying a 5-card major); else 3NT over partner's 3S:. We might rarely miss a 4-4 Heart fit this way but it leaves open better chances for getting to a club slam.
    BARRY
    2C:-2D:-3C:-3D:*-3H: 3D: is consistent with second negative.

    Donít want to play 1C: facing  S:Jxxxx H:xx D:xx C:Jxxx...do you?

    ROBB
    2C: then 3C:, then 3NT over 3S:.
    CHRIS
    2C: then 3C:. Easily enough to bid 4H: over a positive 3NT.

    I open 2C: less than any of my peers, but this one has no sensible alternative. We might not always reach the right spot, but 1C: could pass out when we have a slam. [Nah, with 12 spades out there. Never happen! --Jeff]

    ED
    2C: and then 2NT over the expected 2D:.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    1C:. If I get through this round...and how can it get passed out with 12 spades out there? +170.
    WINNING ACTION
    Any 2C: start works. Sort of. Partner has  S:J H:xxxx D:10976x C:Q9x. If he raises clubs (I would), then you'll reach 5C:. Not a great contract, but it makes. If you reach slam, that will make. If partner bids 3D: over 3C:, you'll find hearts. Even if he splinters over 3H: (I wouldn't), you'll be OK. To lose 10 or 11. My teammate overcalled 2S: on  S:K109xxx H:xxx D:8x C:Jx. That's not my style, but there are those who think it's automatic. His partner couldn't take a joke and they ended up in 4S:x, -1100. What I find amazing is that RHO passed out 1C: with  S:Qxxxx H:KJ D:QJx C:xxx. I guess it can happen.
    CONSENSUS
    PlanVotes
    1C:2
    2C: then NT2
    2C: then 3C: then 3NT over 3S:8
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    I still like 1C:. 2C: then 3C: then 3NT seems like a horrible misbid to me. I don't have a strong two-bid in clubs. I don't have a balanced hand. And I don't have a minimum. (24 prime and a good 5-card suit is more than a minimum in my book.) And diamonds might easily be our best strain. I hate opening 2C: and rebidding notrump with a stiff. That works out poorly way too often. If I survive the first round, I rate to have a good auction (until partner passes some forcing bid). On the other hand, the panel overwhelmingly prefers 2C:. They are probably right, especially if people no longer balance with five spades and nine HCP.

  4. Both vul, you hold

     S:xx H:KJ9876 D:K10742 C:

    LHO CHO RHO You
    1H: 2H: Pass?

    2H: was normal Michaels.


    DAVIDC
    2S:. If you are trying to seduce me into passing with all those heart spots, it won't work. Nor am I going to get to 7D: when partner has  S:Axxxx H:D:AQxxxx C:xx. If partner goes nuts thinking that 2S: shows 4 trump and two bullets, that's her problem.
    LEN
    2S:
    BOB
    2S:, and hope they don't lead a trump (or double). [It's way worse than that. Partner bids again. THEN they double and lead trump. --Jeff]
    MIKE
    2S:. You cannot tempt me into passing with those heart spots opposite an unlimited partner.
    KENNETH
    [Pass] Are you taunting me with the H:6? I'm supposed to pass? Heck, why not?
    MARK
    2S:. WTP? Obviously, 2H: might play better, but you have no idea how strong or distributional partner is.
    BARRY
    2S: seems normal. Non-constructive pile of manure. Pass...worth thinking about I guess. No; not worth thinking about TOO much.
    ROBB
    Pass.
    CHRIS
    Pass...before the doubling starts. Hope I don't miss 4S:.
    ED
    Pass.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    wasn't there, but I'd pass 2H:.
    WINNING ACTION
    Pass, maybe. If you bid 2S:, partner will bid again with  S:J10xxx H:D:x C:AK98xxx, and the doubling will begin. If you pass 2H:, LHO will have a problem. His hearts are AQ5432, so he'll probably pass. At least you don't go for 1100. #3 and #4 were consecutive hands. We didn't win that match.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass5
    2S:6
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    I like pass. It looks like a massive misfit hand to me. If they double, I can run to 2S: and get out as cheaply as was possible. And I don't have to worry about partner's bidding again with lots of black cards. He'll know to shut up. But 2S: might play two tricks better than 2H:, so I might be risking 5 IMPs to avoid losing 12 or so. I'm not sure that's a reasonable trade-off, but then again, I'm not sure that hearts won't play as well or better than spades. And partner might not have clubs (dream on) and partner's spades might be good enough that 2S: will come home. And LHO has to find a lead, and he might not pick a trump (more dreaming...he's leading trump.) Perhaps most important, 2S: doesn't flash the "double us" signal as much as pass does. All in all, it's closer than I originally thought, but I still like passing.

    Jeff Goldsmith, Jan. 10, 2015