The January tournament in Monterey is always well attended as folks flock to the scenic coastal city to enjoy good restaurants, fun activities (think golf, aquarium) and a (usually) temperate climate. We had a new, upgraded venue at the Portola. I missed the reservation date and found myself at the Hotel Pacific--a short block away. What a delight! Spacious suite with gas fireplace, sitting area, breakfast nook, continental breakfast...I'll definitely be back.
Here are a couple of fun hands from my first session on Thurs., Jan. 10, playing with Larry Hansen. I'll present the first hand from Larry's point of view as he tried to steer the bidding to the best contract. (Bd. 5)
I dealt and opened 1♦ and Larry was looking at this powerhouse. He put the ball in play with a bid of 2♠, a strong jump shift. I bid 2NT and he rebid 3♠. I now raised to 4♠ and he bid RKC to check on keycards. My response showed one ace and he needed to decide how to proceed.
Looking for more information, he now bid 5NT, asking about kings. Knowing that I had the option of jumping to a grand slam with previously undisclosed values, he instead elicited the bid of 5♥, showing the king of hearts. He paused again. What would you bid?
He jumped to 6NT, a bid calculated to protect my club holding and seize the extra points available at notrump contracts (as opposed to suit contracts).
I let the heart lead run to my hand and immediately tabled the ♦Q which was covered by the king and won in dummy. I now had 13 tricks. Good bid. Plus 1470 was worth 15 out of 17 matchpoints.
Bd. 20, both vul. LHO dealt and opened 1♣ and the bidding was passed around to me. I held:
Not much of a hand. What the heck is going on here? Where is the strength? Partner could not have much and not bid, could he? If I bid, will the opening bidder now show his huge hand and good spades? Speaking of bidding, what bid can I make? 1NT? 1♦?
I puzzled over this and finally balanced with 1♦. Let the chips fall where they may.
Now the bidding took off and the hand started to come into focus. Partner responded to my 1♦ bid with a cuebid of 2♣. I still had a bad hand, but now I'm just along for the ride. I bid 2♥. He now made the surprise bid of 3NT!
A spade was led and I tabled the dummy with mild trepidation.
Wow--there were plenty of tricks for the taking! Partner simply hadn't been able to get into the auction over 1♣. My 1♦ bid kept the bidding open so he could learn that I had something in hearts. This was all he needed to know to get to the top spot of 3NT. The opener held KQ63/A642/62/Q107.
Plus 630 was worth 14 out of 17 matchpoints. Creative bidding. Interesting game. Be brave.
See you at the table!