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Those"Rainy Day" Bids - Our Internationals conquer Auckland

You may have noticed that one particular team have been doing rather well recently. They are our Open International Team, Michael Cornell – Ashley Bach, Michael Ware – GeO Tislevoll and Michael Whibley – Matthew Brown. They have been mixing it with the best on the international scene…and have not been doing too badly on the local scene either.

With Ware-Tislevoll playing separately with different partners at Auckland’s Easter Congress and having the recent Queens Birthday off altogether, the other four teamed up. To say they had two emphatic wins would be an understatement. Both events ran with 6 round Swiss qualifying and 4 round finals. They won both Swiss events emphatically. At Easter, they won the final by 16 vps while at Queen’s Birthday, the final margin was a massive 35 vps…and that was just the gap between first and second!

They went through both events unbeaten…that’s quite an achievement. 20 straight wins.

There are many attributes required for such consistent winning. Let’s focus here on just one of them, having methods to deal with problem hands. Both the following boards came from the final rounds of the recent Queens Birthday event.

First of all, here is Matt Brown and Michael Whibley:

West

East

Michael

Matt

Spade-small AJ5

Spade-small QT986

Heart-small K

Heart-small A4

Diamond-small AK9764

Diamond-small 82

Club-small Q32

Club-small AJT8

 

 

A natural auction might go:

West

East

1Diamond-small

1Spade-small

3Diamond-small

3NT

Pass

 

East does not have a good second bid over 3Diamond-small. 3Spade-small would show a 6 card suit while 3Heart-small would show a heart stop but would look for a club hold from partner for no-trumps, not the hand East holds. The trick is to find the 5-3 spade fit and then bid on to slam. Here is how Matt and Michael achieved that:

Michael

Matt

1Diamond-small

1Spade-small

3Heart-small

3Spade-small

4Diamond-small

4NT

5Heart-small

6Spade-small

Pass

 

 

 

The key system bid was 3Heart-small which is game-forcing and artificial showing six diamonds with three card spade support. 3Spade-small said Matt was interested in slam (had he bid 4Spade-small, that would be a sign-off).

(You may wish to skip the next paragraph, a little technical.)

Michael’s next task was to show any shortage held which they show in steps: 3NT denying a shortage, 4Club-small short club, 4Diamond-small short heart...i.e. bidding shortages "up the line".

Matt then used Roman Key-Card and got the response (5Heart-small) showing 2 without the trump queen. Matt had that card and bid to the excellent slam which made an overtrick when the Spade-smallK and diamond break were respectively favourable and normal.

West Deals
Both Vul
7 4 3
J 9 6 5 2
J 10
7 5 4
A J 5
K
A K 9 7 6 4
Q 3 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
Q 10 9 8 6
A 4
8 2
A J 10 8
 
K 2
Q 10 8 7 3
Q 5 3
K 9 6

 

Note that 6Diamond-small requires you to take the right black suit finesse. As you know, we are generally incapable of doing that!

 QB 2018 winners Auckland.jpg
Michael, Ashley, Michael and Matthew along with Auckland player, Jeter Liu, whose family business,
Taishan Building Group Ltd provided as per previous years most generous sponsorship for the Congress.
The presentation was very much a family affair with Jeter's wife,Qiao, daughter, Jenny, and granddaughter,
Chelsea, all present.

On then to Ashley Bach – Michael Cornell. How would you fare with these hands:

West

East

Spade-small AQ9

Spade-small 74

Heart-small AK532

Heart-small Q987

Diamond-small AK6

Diamond-small 85

Club-small AJ

Club-small K8765

7Heart-small has chances but you would certainly want to be in small slam. Many pairs now play that a 2NT rebid after an opening 2Club-small shows 24+ high card points (avoiding the need to jump to 3NT with 25, an ugly space-using bid). However, there is another difficulty here even if you do. Let’s suppose you use 3Club-small as a major suit enquiry in the sequence:

West

East

2Club-small

2Diamond-small

2NT

3Club-small

and that West’s response of 3Heart-small shows a 5 card suit. What should East do? 4Heart-small would certainly end the auction. You may wish to agree hearts as trumps and cue-bid 4Club-small to show partner you have some interest in slam and hold one of the top two club cards. However, say you had bid 3Club-small with 4 spades and a 5 or 6 card club suit which you now want to show by bidding 4Club-small.     4Club-small cannot mean both heart support and be a natural bid. Michael and Ashley have the answer. Here was their sequence:

West

East

Ashley

Michael

2Club-small

2Diamond-small

2NT

3Club-small

3Heart-small

3Spade-small The bid of the other major is a slam try agreeing partner’s 5 card suit.

3NT

4Club-small

4Diamond-small

6Heart-small

Pass

 

3NT was waiting, allowing Michael to show his Club-smallK. 4Diamond-small was also a cue-bid after which Michael ended proceedings. Here are the four hands:

Board 18
East Deals
N-S Vul
K 10 8
10 6 4
Q 9 4 3 2
9 4
A Q 9
A K 5 3 2
A K 6
A J
 
N
W   E
S
 
7 4
Q 9 8 7
8 5
K 8 7 6 5
 
J 6 5 3 2
J
J 10 7
Q 10 3 2

 

Note had Michael held a long club suit, instead of having heart support, he would have bid 4Club-small over 3Heart-small.

Such artificial bids occur very rarely. (The “rainy day” heading applied in more than one sense this “long" week-end.) It is one thing having such artificial bids. One must remember them too.

Thus, catering for the unusual is just one way our top players can succeed regularly. The above two boards showed one reason why this team has the edge over their opponents locally while at the same time can challenge the world’s best internationally.

Richard Solomon

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