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Tales of Akarana

                    FOUR MIGHTY HANDS

What have the following four hands got in common other than they all appeared at Akarana this week and they, one in particular, are all hands you would like to hold? (Just to even matters up, at least 12 of the 28 boards played were part-score battles.)

 

Spade-small K3                           Spade-smallAK8432                Spade-small AKJT32                  Spade-small-

Heart-small AK                          Heart-smallAKQ9                    Heart-small Q5                         Heart-small A

Diamond-smallAK972                     Diamond-smallJ9                         Diamond-small-                              Diamond-smallAQJ83

Club-smallAQT7                      Club-small K                         Club-small AKJT2                    Club-small AKQJ10732

     23                          20                                  18                                 21  (number of hcp..to save you counting!)

strong hand.png             strong hand.png             strong hand.png              strong hand.png strong hand.png

In case you are wondering, they all occurred on different hands and fell to three different compass directions (lucky East!).

So, I will dip my toe in the water and say that all four are strong 2Club-small openings. (only the 21 count may have suffered an opposition opening bid first.)

Mighty Hand 1

The 23 high of the first hand makes it a fairly uncontroversial decision though the decision of many to treat it as a balanced hand meant that the opportunity to reach a reasonable small slam was lost. Only 2 out of 11 pairs reached 6NT and no-one the better 6Diamond-small contract with these cards:

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

 

Whether you open 2Club-small and rebid 2NT or have a different 2 level opening to show a flat 22/23, it is hard for East to get too excited after discovering West has no major suit. Simple Baron (3Club-small) would unearth the diamond fit. Otherwise, 3NT would seem to be the resting point.

If East responds 2Diamond-small to a 2Club-small opening, they would “steal” the best contract off their partner. 6Diamond-small (especially by West) makes on a spade lead, when Club-smallJ is in a shorter than four- card suit or if South holds the Spade-smallA (the last was true on the actual hand). The old-fashioned style of a 2Club-small opener followed by a positive flat 2NT response would be the big winner if West bid their longest suit on the next round.

Mighty hand 2

I could not stand the wait of opening the second hand, my 20 pointer at the 1 level and hear one player after another pass. I know my Club-smallK is of dubious value but that was counter-balanced by the sixth spade. So, in these days where “Acol 2s” are out of fashion, 2Club-small it had to be.

As it happened, partner would have responded to 1Spade-small. Partner did make a slam try after my game forcing start but the diamond weakness was soon identified and we played in the safety of game:

     
J 7 5
J 10 8 2
10 7 6
A Q 6
 
N
W   E
S
 
A K 8 4 3 2
A K Q 9
J 9
K
West North East South
    2  Pass
2  Pass 2  Pass
3  Pass 4  Pass
4  All pass    

 

Three pairs did reach slam which required South to find a diamond lead from Diamond-smallQ854 and no other honour cards to beat. Twice, the slam made.

Mighty hand 3

Our third 2Club-small was the “weakest” of the four but despite its mere 18 high had a good feel about it. In view of the few slams bid (3 small and no grand slams), it would seem the majority started with 1Spade-small. These were the four hands:

Board 26
East Deals
Both Vul
9 7 6 5
7 3 2
10 9 5 3
9 6
A 4
Q J 7 6 2
Q 8 7 5 4 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
A K J 10 3 2
Q 5
A K J 10 2
 
Q 8 4
K J 10 9 8 6
A K 8 4
West North East South
    2  2 
3  Pass 4  Pass
4  Pass 7  All pass

 

The above sequence assumes 4Heart-small is first round control. If it could be second round, then a Blackwood style ask would be needed to check before going grand. Granted that partner will not always have six-card support for one’s minor but one would surely want to try some game with those East cards (I suspect one would make at least 10 tricks if the above North hand was its partner), then a strong statement with the opening bid seems a good way to begin.

Very Mighty Hand 4

On then to the star of the show, with once more, the minor suits starring. Only an absolute pessimist would describe our fourth hand as anything worse than a 1 loser. Our bidding should be about discovering whether our partner has the Diamond-smallK ( a "6" or "7" hand).  Although we have a strong 2-suiter, we really should say firmly to partner that clubs must be trumps:

Board 19
South Deals
E-W Vul
A
A Q J 8 3
A K Q J 7 3 2
A Q J 8 3
9 8 6 4
K 4 2
6
 
N
W   E
S
 
K 5 4
J 10 5 3 2
7 6 5
10 9
 
10 9 7 6 2
K Q 7
10 9
8 5 4
West North East South
      Pass
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 4  Pass 4 
Pass 6  All pass  

 

4Club-small set clubs as trumps with South required to cue-bid. 4Heart-small (the partner of a game-forcing 2Club-small opening should always be allowed to cue aces and kings together) was not what North wanted to hear…hence the third club jump by North in so many bids. No grand slam this time (far too risky!) but enough exploration done on the way.

Were West to put in a super light 1Spade-small opening, North would try 2NT for the minors and would be encouraged by their partner's choice of clubs. However, even though the opening bid makes it more likely West has the missing king, even with the actual cards, a 3-0 club break would have defeated the grand. So, 6Club-small it should be.

So, 4 x 2Club-small openers in one evening. Whoever said such a bid was under-utilised.?Not by me, anyway.

Richard Solomon

 

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