Absent: Cenk Tuncok, who isn’t answering his mail, and Mike “Bones Principle” Wiss, who reluctantly recuses himself on the grounds that he has seen the hand before. In their place please welcome the lovely Geeselle; Phil Hernandez, who substituted brilliantly for Ira Chorush in December, earning a permanent slot; and legendary Gee-spec David Better. On with the show.
IMPs, N/S Vul
As South, you (Gee) hold:
A Q 9
Q 10 8 5 4
K 9 8 4
Lefty deals and opens one diamond. Pard doubles, righty passes. WWGD?
Chorush sets the stage today: “4 hearts and 2 diamonds are the only acceptable choices as far as I am concerned. This leaves a rather large selection from which to choose Gee’s bid.” There are other excellent reasons to reject 2D, as Robert points out: “The problem with 2D is that in Gerard’s partnerships it must be natural, to get the best declarer on play and not risk Gerard’s partner making a bad lead when Gerard has a true penalty pass. +90 beats -90 any day of the week, as all experts know. (-90 you say? But 1Dx making is -140! NO! Gerard has demonstrated in simple mathematical terms that 4Dx making is the same as 8D, therefore we can logically conclude that 1Dx making is the same as 2D. Simple, really.)” Smith has a novel take: “This can’t be the right answer because it would be Michaels and we don’t have 5-5 in both majors.” Hernandez, finally, puts the matter to bed: “There is NO hand that has EVER been dealt where the master would require assistance from his partner in determining the correct course of action. Such an action would be tantamount to admitting weakness and as we all know Gee is not so disposed.”
Notrump has merits. It right-sides the contract, gives full value to the king of diamonds, and misdescribes the hand no matter what level you choose. Chorush is tempted: “All the NT bids have the desirable characteristic of making Gee declarer but I don’t think Gee would choose them, fearful of his singleton club. Make no mistake, however, the NT bids are all terrible. 2NT has the worst features of pass and one heart combined.” So is Geeselle: “He might also bid NT since nobody strokes the dummy with his velvet touch. But upon more careful consideration, NT with a singleton does not seem quite right (we save singletons for raising our partner to the four level).” Robert appears to have forgotten, temporarily, the object of the game: “Notrump bids must be eliminated, for though they always should come into consideration when Gerard can make them, here the hand should clearly play better in a suit.” OK, but why is that grounds to eliminate notrump bids?
Nonetheless, notrump ultimately seduced two of our distinguished panelists. Better bucks for extra credit by invoking captain-crew theory: “The singleton club is certainly no big detriment — good partners will have you covered there. That nebulous king of diamonds now becomes a significant card. In fact, the notrump strain is a standout. The only question is… 2 or 3? 2NT is superficially reasonable on values; however that hardly would be enticing when partner has transferred captaincy to you with their double. And in the hand of a skilled declarer, knowing where the high cards are, the slight overbid of 3NT — removing partner from any further difficult decisions — becomes the only conceivable action. Mori likes the strain but not the level: “Partner might be low so I guess he opts for 1NT. That makes his KD valuable and if pard bids he can confuse them with a suit entry that would be a surprise 5 card holding or the delayed nebulous cue bid after staying so low.”
Yet why angle for a delayed nebulous cue bid when an immediate nebulous cue bid is available? Ross reminds the panel that four clubs is never to play: “What’s the problem? 4C. Splinter in support of myself. The only problem with 4C is that partner may think it is Gerber. I am not worried about him passing because any expert knows four clubs is never to play.” Robert wants to show the spades: “Gerard would have chosen a bid that leaves both majors as an option, while also describing his hand, and what better bid for such a purpose than a 4C splinter! But might not Gerard’s partner get confused and pass this bid? No, because as all bridge players should know, 4C is NEVER to play. If Gerard’s partner didn’t know enough to follow this simple beginner bidding principle and passed to drag Gerard into the fire, then I know an e-book that he would be well advised to invest in.”
And Better, though rejecting the bid, points to its defensive value, which neither of its proponents considered: “Bidding clubs, while perhaps indicating the best lead should the opponents buy the hand (think how many ruffs you might get!) is too big an action opposite a partner who would certainly not be sophisticated enough to know when to pass.”
Better also gave some consideration to spades: “Bidding some number of spades, while perhaps leading to an excellent contract, suffers from not having discussed canape style responses to doubles in a typical, casual OKB partnership.”
Robert notes the merits of passing, which most of our panelists failed to consider: “The first bid which comes to mind is pass. As a master of tactics and hand evaluation, Gerard knows the 98 of diamonds are not to be taken lightly, but it would be preferable to bring his expert declarer play into the mix rather than risk his partner (who is out to get him) ruining everything with a bad lead.” Chorush, playing the numbers and considering the vulnerability, cannot resist: “I feel like the vulnerability might have influenced Gee to go for the penalty so I choose pass. I would guess the result was minus 340 when 620 was available.” 650 actually, but we’ll get to that later.
Most of the panelists got around to their longest suit eventually. But how many hearts? Four was dismissed out of hand. Chorush: “The normal aggressive bid is 4 hearts, so that can’t be the answer. After all, you wouldn’t give us a problem like that.” Next time I just might. Smith takes a conservative view: “Clearly wrong. You only have 11 points after all and 3 of them in opps suit. Partner’s 12 and your bad 11 is 23, not enough for game.” So does Better: “4h is perhaps right on values and known support – but opposite potentially only 3 in partner’s hand, and a questionable king of diamonds, this could easily fail.” Both of our distinguished panelists err here, neglecting to add a queen, at least, for Gee’s declarer play. And what, Robert asks, of the spades? “All heart bids through 4 also appear tempting, but the hearts don’t have the strength the spades do.”
Hernandez summarizes: “The jump to game, similar to the double jump, opposite a takeout double, is an attempt to place the contract, nothing more, nothing less. If we consider:
a. the form of scoring
b. our high card points
c. the vulnerability
d. the extra heart
e. the lack of a bid by RHO
f. that we are playing bridge
g. that we live on Earth
then we will soon conclude that this is the correct bid.” Enough said.
Three hearts, for Hernandez, is invitational: “The double jump response to partner’s takeout double is usually played as invitational with extra length in the suit named.” Chorush disagrees: “3 hearts is preemptive and would normally be passed.” That it could cause confusion on the panel speaks well for the bid, yet the other panelists passed it by.
Two hearts, though cowardly, is too close to sanity to merit serious consideration. “A jump to 2H,” Geeselle asserts, “is not a possibility.” She gives no reasons, which is a woman’s prerogative. Hernandez takes a jaunt through the levels: “I cannot imagine he would bid any suit besides hearts. Of the [five heart] bids, I think 2H is the least likely to have been chosen at the table since if one devalues the diamond king completely, the hand reduces to an eight count. An eight count with 6 additional Goren points mind you, but Gee has always been a point counter. Next to get the chop would be 6H, as that is just too far over the line…the line is a dot to 6H. 5H is too precipitous (to say nothing about collaborative — actually I’m beginning to grow fond of 5H as a choice in an actual ESC).” An ESC, I should note, is an Earthbound Solvers Club. Smith argues that 2H is an overbid: “The Flight B club player may opt out with 2 hearts which is a disaster waiting to happen. What if partner is doubling and bidding clubs? You have a total misfit and you are wandering into the 3 level looking for a fit that may not exist. This kind of bidding will set you up to go minus 500 or 800 if partner bids 3 clubs.”
We arrive at last at one heart, our winner. Hernandez examines its technical underpinnings: “1H — the bid I would make with: xxx xxxx xxx xxx. Is it conceivable? No, it’s psychotic. That’s it then. At the risk of offending Walter, his surviving family, and Austrians in general, I submit my choice: 1 Heart, a Psychic Herbert Negative!” Geeselle notes its psychological value: “What bid keeps the auction low, while affording partner the opportunity to salvage a plus for our side and play in a ‘fit’? Well, using the logic only a girl (or Gerard) could possibly justify, I will say Gerard bid 1 Heart. The reason is to allow for the times when his partners have attempted to once again make him look a fool in front of the adoring eyes of his imbecilic fans, and who do not have a t/o x in the first place.” Hey, watch who you’re calling an imbecile there, sweetheart. Smith anticipates the rest of the auction: “1 heart — clearly the right call and the one that I am positive that Mr. Cohen has found. You are safe if partner doubles and bids 2 clubs, then you can bid 2 hearts or 2 diamonds new minor forcing. Anyway, 1 heart shows values because we are playing fast arrival, so with good hands we bid slowly and describe them.”
The palm, however, goes to Larsen, whose entry read, in its entirety: “One heart. Always good to have some extras.”
Thanks again to all the panelists.
10 7 2
A K 3
Q J 10 7 5
and passed out 1H, making 5 for +200 points and -7 IMPs.