TALES OF AKARANA
The Unchanging Commodity
Bidding styles change over the years because some traditional approaches, whilst effective, occur so rarely that we find more frequent uses for such bids. A prime example is reserving one’s 2 level suit openings apart from 2 for Strong “Acol 2” hands, powerful but not quite game force. Most now play some version of Weak single or two suiters. Similarly, strong jump shifts by responder have given way to weak ones, mini- splinters, Bergen etc.
Occasionally, one wishes for the “old days”. This week at Akarana, a more traditional use of a couple of bids would have come in very handy.
How do you handle the following hand?
7 54 AKJT8742 A2 ?
You are opener and are not vulnerable against vulnerable opponents. It does not fit the bill for most partnerships’ gambling 3NT opening. Oh, if we played a strong 2, then we could open that….but who has that bid in their armoury?
So, 1 it is and a take-out double on your left. Partner bids a spade…and if you were next to speak you could try a modern day 3NT (gambling style…long running minor…something outside.) That seems to be what you have. However, your right hand opponent will not let you bid next. In they come with 2. Now what?
There is a gambling bid and a suicidal one. Your heart cards would not stop much. Will partner realise that, looking at Qx or two small themselves?
You could try 3, asking for a hold. 30,50 years ago it may have asked for a hold but today it tends to show support, be a game try for your partner’s suit…and that is not your intention here.
Thus, to win the post-mortem, and almost as importantly, to win the board, you make a good old conservative 3 bid. It’s a free bid though it’s the same bid you would make with a six rather than an eight card suit. Oh these wonderful modern methods we play.
The bidding did not end there:
West North East South
x 1 2 3
3 Pass Pass ?
What now? 4 seems sound. However, you produced an interesting double..a “do what’s right” double. Looking at the North hand below, nothing seemed particularly right. So, I elected to defend:
|Dbl||1 ♠||2 ♥||3 ♦|
On the normal lead of South’s singleton spade, the defence got their five tricks (two diamonds, A,A and a spade ruff) for +200. It could have been 500 if South had gone for a ruff with their doubleton club rather than their singleton (spade gets discarded on the third round of clubs) though the result does seem to be a little lucky in that diamonds broke 2-2. There might have been a cry for “an older style approach” had one opponent held three diamonds.
If that were the situation, it is unlikely that 3NT would have made with most failing in their 4 contract, though a smaller minus than the 730 for 3x making.
All bar one of the other tables made 10 tricks in diamonds, though those in 5 and 6 recorded minus scores. One lucky North-South got to defend 4, doubled of course.
Perhaps the outcome of the board depends on one commodity which was as true 30 or 50 years as it is today….