Hand of the Week #17

This week we continue with hands from Anchorage's Summer Solstice regional. West and East each faced an interesting bidding decision at my table, on this deal from the Friday afternoon pairs game:

Dealer West
Both vul
S K J T 6
H 9 4 3 2
D 7 5 4 3
C 8
S Q 9 3
H K 7
C K J 9 7 6 5
[table marker] S 8 7 5 4 2
H A 8 6 5
D T 6 2
D Q J 9 8
C A T 4 3 2

West deals himself a strong hand, but an awkward one to describe in Standard American. He has three choices: 1C followed by 2C, a significant underbid that could easily lead to missing an easy 3NT if partner has 9 or 10 points; 1C followed by 3C, which describes the high-card values and the club length well, but crowds the bidding; or open 1NT with 16HCP and no singleton, despite the 6-card club suit.

As the cards lie, if West chooses 1C, East will respond 1S, but then have to pass whichever of 2C or 3C West chooses. Eight tricks are available in clubs, so today the underbidders go plus, and the textbook bidders are minus 100.

When I held the West hand, I felt 1NT was the best opening. My partner now has to choose between simply dumping me in 2S; using Stayman and correcting a 2D rebid to 2 of a major to show 5-4 and ostensibly 8 or 9 points; or using Stayman and dropping me in whatever my response is, gambling that we will have a playable diamond fit if I have neither major.

Without invitational values, East's best choice is to drop me in spades, where we are guaranteed at least a 7-card fit and lots of entries to East's hand to led toward my high cards in the other suits if I need to. (Some pairs have agreed that 1NT-2C-2D-2M does not promise invitational values -- "Garbage Stayman" -- which works well here, but those pairs have a different problem when they have to distinguish responder's 6- and 9-point hands.)

As it happens, there are also 8 tricks available in spades, and the pairs who opened 1NT and bailed out at 2S got well-deserved tops.

And what happened at my table, you ask? Partner chose to gamble on Stayman, and I got to play in my 3-2 diamond fit. I somehow managed to win seven tricks when neither opponent figured out what was going on in time to stop me from crossruffing. But even that miracle was only a 25% board, compared to the 75% or so I could have for 110.

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This page last updated 10.07.08
©2008 Gordon Bower