Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Three-Loser Special ***

How would you like to hold this beauty?

H 2
D 5
C AKQJ9532

I picked this up in a Stratified Open Pairs game at the Great Western regional. I was in fourth seat. LHO opened the bidding with 1 Diamond and Jenn, my partner, overcalled 1 Spade and RHO passed.

What is your plan?

Since we're playing matchpoints, it's better to play in spades than clubs. However, clubs would be a safer contract since you don't need any kind of favorable split to draw trumps. You would like to play it in spades if partner has the queen of spades, since the suit will come in for no losers if it splits 3-2, a much better than even chance, or 4-1 if partner has the jack.  Even if she doesn't, she could hold 6 spades so a 2-2 split brings it home. However, if partner doesn't have the queen, you would rather play it in clubs.

Fortunately, we employ RKCB, so I decided not to mess around and went right to 4NT, which is RKCB for spades. I intended to play 5 Spades if partner had no aces (she would almost certainly have the spade queen or long spades to justify an overcall) , 6 Spades if she had one ace and the queen of spades, 6 Clubs if she had one ace without the queen of spades (if she doesn't have the spade queen, she needs something else besides just one ace to justify an overcall, on which I could get rid of the spade loser), or 7NT if she miraculously showed up with 2 aces and the queen of spades, covering all three losers.

Partner replied 5 Clubs, which showed 1 keycard (we play 1430). I now bid 5 Diamonds, asking about the spade queen. If she had it, I would play 6 Spades, if not 6 Clubs. She replied 6 Spades, which showed the queen but no outside kings. I was happy to pass. The defense cashed the ace of hearts, the spades came in as expected, and we scored +1430 for 31 out of 38 matchpoints.  We were surprised to receive such a good score, then realized that maybe not a lot of folks were overcalling with her hand.  She held:

S QT942
H A854
D Q96
C  8

Note the value of overcalling this hand even though we were vulnerable.  It made the auction easy.  When you partner has not yet bid, it often pays to get into the auction after the opponents have opened.  You can have a game, or even, sometimes, a slam! 

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