Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Minor Problem

Last week at the club's Wednesday night team game, Jenn held, in third seat:


I dealt and opened one diamond. She responded 1 heart, then I bid 3 clubs, a strong jump shift. Jenn naturally followed Hamman's Rule and bid 3 no-trump. Now I surprised her with another jump to 5 clubs! This got her annoyed (she doesn't like to be taken out of 3NT) and started her thinking. What is going on here? There were contradictory indicators. Normally a jump to game in a forcing auction is fast arrival, signifiying lack of interest in slam. On the other hand, I had jump shifted so I must have a really strong hand. Why had I not rebid 4 clubs, when it would have been forcing, or bid 4NT. One problem was that 4NT here was undiscussed. It could have been interpreted as either straight Blackwood (no suit had been agreed), or a general slam invite asking partner to go to either six of a minor or 6NT with extra values. So, reader, why do you think I bid 5 clubs, and what call do you make? Decide before reading on.

Jenn decided that I had to have a hand with very few losers. Since she was looking at the club king and diamond queen, she knew that these were huge cards and covered two losers. She decided that I likely had a void and only one major suit loser, say 6-5 in the minors and Ax in one major and a void in the other, or 6-6 in the minors with a singleton in one of the majors. So she bid 6 diamonds.

This turned out to be the winner, since I held:


I had some tough decisions to make here. The hand has only 2.5 losers, so it is very powerful. You can't really describe it by opening 2 clubs, so I decided to start with 1 diamond and rebid a large number of clubs, depending on who did what. With this much shape, usually there is a lot of bidding around the table. I was pleased and surprised to hear it go pass, 1 heart, pass. This made it easy for me to make a game-forcing jump shift to 3 clubs. Now, when Jenn bid 3NT, I had to decide what to do next. My choices seemed to be 4 clubs, 5 clubs or 6 clubs. Because of my void, it would have been pointless to make any bid that Jenn could interpret as ace-asking such as 4NT. I thought that she might be put in an awkward position if I rebid 4 clubs and she preferred clubs to diamonds. I suspect that if so, she would cue bid a major suit ace or go to 5 clubs if she didn't have one, information that wasn't that useful to me. I decided to go for 5 clubs because I thought that Jenn would look at this in the way I described above - a big hand with few losers and a void someplace. I didn't think I could commit to 6 clubs, since she surely would bid 3NT on many hands that held no aces nor the missing minor suit honors, e.g., QJxx/KQxx/xx/xxx, where even 5 of a minor isn't safe.

Fortunately, we were on similar wavelengths and landed in the right place.

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