Friday, 19 April 2013

Slam bidding with Sabine and Roy

This is a snapshot of Sabine and Roy playing in a Teams Tournament in 2013 and bidding a good slam.

There's a big Teams tournament in Japan at the moment. In one semi-final a Mixed Nationality Team, including Sabine Auken and Roy Welland, raced ahead with a series of great results. They'll play Russia in the final tomorrow. Here's a hand where Sabine and Roy gained IMPs for getting to slam.

I think it's quite a hard one to bid. The auction from Sabine and Roy is interesting, as it features a couple of useful conventions.

EW vul
N deal
♠ A Q T
♥ 8 2
♦ A K 8 7
♣ A K 6 2
♠ 9 8 2
♥ K Q 9 7 3
♦ Q 9 4
♣ 5 3
♠ J 7
♥ J T 4
♦ T 5 3
♣ T 9 8 7 4
♠ K 6 5 4 3
♥ A 6 5
♦ J 6 2
♣ Q J

North has a balanced 20 count. Depending on your system, this will normally be opened 2NT. For me and Anna, we would open 2♦, then rebid 2NT. For Sabine and Roy, they open 2♣, which shows either 23+ or a balanced 20-21. South's automatic reply is 2♦, then North makes the special bid of 2♥. This shows either 23+ with Hearts, or a balanced 20-21. It's called Kokish. How does partner know which of these two possible hand types you have? He bids a totally aritificial 2♠, then your rebid shows your hand type. The 2NT bid shows the 20-21 balanced hand, and any other bid shows the strong hand with Hearts (and describes the hand further).

After North shows 20-21 South has an average looking 11 point hand, so slam is borderline. One way to bid investigate is to transfer into Spades then bid 3NT. With no Spade fit partner will pass 3NT, and you end up playing there, which is fine. When partner has three Spades they'll correct 3NT to 4♠, and now you can bid on. Partner will know you only have a mild slam invite, as you were prepared to let the bidding die in 3NT if there was no Spade fit.

Sabine instead prioritised finding out if partner was maximum or minimum, and bid an invitational 4NT. Perhaps she knew with their system she'd be able to introduce a suit later. Roy has only 20 points, so could have passed 4NT, but liked his hand. One of the commentators said "Roy never thinks he has a minimum". He responded 5NT. This looks natural, passing the buck back to partner to see if they wanted to bid 6NT, but I don't think it was. Despite having a balanced 20 count Roy has a weakness in Hearts and his hand looks like it will play much better in a suit contract. 5NT invited partner to bid a 5 card suit, which Sabine did.

I think me and Anna have a similar agreement, or at least I think we should have. After an invitational, quantitative 4NT, partner can simply accept with 6NT, or can show a four card suit at the 5 level, or a five card suit at the 6 level. Then the 4NT bidder has a chance of finding a 4-4 or 5-3 fit, and can always play 6NT if they don't like it. And the general rule if you get very confused is just bid 6NT.

In the play of 6♠ there were no problems, and since the other table only bid 3NT+3 Team Sabine won another 10 IMPs.

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