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Tales of Akarana

A Rarely Used Bid.

That’s 5NT. The trick is that when we do use it, we know what it means.

There is the “please pick a slam, partner,” 5NT which occurred this week in the following sequence:

West              North                                    East                South

                        1Club-small                                      Pass                1Heart-small(4+ spades)
Pass                1Spade-small (usually 3 spades)        Pass                2Diamond-small (artificial, game force)
Pass                2Heart-small (natural)                        Pass                5NT
Pass                ?

Holding Spade-small AT7    Heart-small A974   Diamond-smallJ5   Club-small QJT6

there was only one slam left for North with a motley 12 count to suggest as it seemed South had neither 5 spades nor 4 hearts and that was 6Club-small. So, 6Club-small became the final contract, one of three 4-3 fits available on the board:

Board 8
West Deals
None Vul
A 10 7
A 9 7 4
J 5
Q J 10 6
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
K 4 3 2
K J 10
A K 9
A 7 3
West North East South
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 1  Pass 2 
Pass 2  Pass 5 NT
Pass 6  All pass  

 

North received the Diamond-small10 lead which looked very much like a shortage. So, up with the ace, a spade to North’s ace… and fingers crossed as there was only one way to take the club finesse and when the queen was covered and the suit broke 3-3, the declarer was feeling a little better.

There was just the little matter of finding the Heart-smallQ as there was a certain spade loser. If East had short diamonds, they are likely to have long hearts. Thus, a heart towards the 10.

The declarer was wrong but was right!

 
Board 8
West Deals
None Vul
A 10 7
A 9 7 4
J 5
Q J 10 6
Q 8 6 5
8 6 5 3
7 4
5 4 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 9
Q 2
Q 10 8 6 3 2
K 9 8
 
K 4 3 2
K J 10
A K 9
A 7 3
West North East South
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 1  Pass 2 
Pass 2  Pass 5 NT
Pass 6  All pass  

 

A nice deceptive opening lead from East but the Heart-smallQ appeared far too early for the defence and a relieved declarer could write down +920… no overtrick.

I would have thought a more normal auction would go:

West              North            East                South

Pass                1Club-small                  2Diamond-small                  X

Pass                2Heart-small                  Pass                ?

5NT perhaps?

or

West              North            East                South

Pass                1NT (12-14)  Pass               4NT
All Pass

However, apart from the one pair in 6Club-small, everyone else played the no-trump game: declarers not so good on finessing, perhaps!

 

Moving on….

Is the following hand worthy of a second in hand not vulnerable pre-empt against not vulnerable opponents?

Spade-small 62   Heart-small 9   Diamond-small JT83   Club-small QJ9754

In first seat, not vulnerable, for many anything goes but if a partner asks (they rarely do!), I would say that second in hand, even not vulnerable and certainly at equal vulnerability, “I do have a reasonable pre-empt.” Not therefore this time.

This style was certainly overlooked when one North player did open 3Club-small. They soon began to doubt the wisdom of their ways when it became clear it was their partner that they were pre-empting:

West              North            East                South

Pass                3Club-small                  Pass                5NT

Pass                ?

5NT again

The most traditional use of 5NT other than as a king ask would be as a grand slam force. There were two good pieces of news for North. Firstly, they knew what this 5NT requested and they were able to respond 6Club-small with neither the Club-smallA nor Club-smallK in sight. Too hard if it was the queen which partner sought. They could have used key card in that case.

The other piece of good news? No need to show the hand as dummy as North’s hand would be the declarer.

Before we show you the other three hands, what would you make of this 5NT bid? You still have the same 4 count as above but you did not pre-empt. However, you were required to make two bids before 5NT appeared:

West              North            East                South

Pass                Pass             Pass                2Club-small
Pass                2Diamond-small                  Pass             2Heart-small
Pass                3Club-small                  Pass            5NT
Pass                ?

Grand slam force or some vast number of high card points requesting you to “pick a slam” or maybe simply an invite to 6NT? Which is it?

It looks like a grand-slam force but North saw it differently and passed. He was not to enjoy the experience

Board 24
West Deals
None Vul
6 2
9
J 10 8 3
Q J 9 7 5 4
J 10 8
7 5 3
6 5 4
K 6 3 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
K 7 5 4
J 10 6 2
Q 7 2
10 8
 
A Q 9 3
A K Q 8 4
A K 9
A

 

If you are going to pre-empt with less than you should, have a decent suit….and those words ensured that our 3Club-small opener would survive his aggressive pre-empt (along with the Club-small10 being doubleton).

East led Spade-small4. The potential spade loser was immediately disposed of on a high heart and the early fall of the Club-small10 and a good heart break saw 12 tricks for North.

Meanwhile, there was no way for South to score more than 10 tricks in 5NT, a horrible place to play.

A pot pourri of contracts failed with positive scores for North-South only coming for those at a lower game level and our intrepid 3Club-small opener.

Three 5NT bids in one evening with different meanings. Are you OK with the different times this bid might be used? No time for a “time out” table discussion about what partner means by the bid when they make it!

Richard Solomon

 

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