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Aug 02

More natural slamming

Having shown off my ability to sustain long, natural auctions in the previous post, let's move back, for the time being, to Piedmont, where I missed an opportunity last Wednesday.

Playing with a pickup partner, I held

A5
KQJ86
KJ3
QJT

and heard my partner open 1.  The auction developed naturally: 1-1; 1-2!; 3.  Now I was at the crossroads.  I considered bidding 4, though the thought of a nebulous cuebidding auction for a minor-suit contract did not appeal to me, or perhaps a quantitative 4NT, to show some (positional) diamond values.  I finally decided to go with 4, but was less than happy when hearing partner's 4 reply, that sounded like a singleton after his failure to bid 2NT — I now played him for a 4=2=1=6 hand, in which case a slam would require him to hold the K, the A and the AK.  I gave a last try with 4, but had to pass my partner's 5.

West North East South
  1 P 1
P 1 P 21
P 3 P 4
P 42 P 43
P 5    

1. art. GF
2. cue
3. cue

Unfortunately, this time the full deal was

North
T863
A
A7
A97654
South
A5
KQJ86
KJ3
QJT

so slam was cold after the non-spade lead and still a 50% proposition on a spade lead.  As it happened, the club king was onside and my partner took all the tricks.

I initially (and with some bad faith) blamed him for choosing 3 instead of 2NT over my 2, thus making me devaluate my hand; however 3 is honestly the best bid with his hand.  Instead, I should have chosen a semi-natural 3 over 3; then he can bid 3NT and his diamond cue will now likely show the A instead of shortness.  When he skips the spade cue, the very worst hand he can have will be something like JxxxAAxKxxxxx or JxxxxAxAKxxxx (no light openings for us).  In both cases, slam is again near-cold on a non-spade lead, and still have some (not that great) chances on a spade lead: the first hand needs hearts 4-3 and the diamond hook to pitch three spades, a 30% proposition; the second one needs the diamond hook to pitch a heart and then a ruffing finesse in hearts — a bit less than 25% as there might be ruffs.  But these are very specific constructions, and it does look very reasonable to raise 5 to 6 in the following auction:

West North East South
  1 P 1
P 1 P 21
P 3 P 3
P 3 P 4
P 42 P 43
P 5 P 6

1. art. GF
2. cue
3. cue