The Gee Chronicles

Jun 152003

MPs, E/W Vul

As South, you deal and pick up:

S 6
H A K Q 8 7
D Q J 10 8 6 4
C 2

WWGD, in two parts. What would the maestro open? What would he rebid over a one spade response?

Action Score Votes
1 D, 1NT 100 0
1 H, 1NT 90 1
1 C, 4 C 70 0
1 d, 3 H 60 2
1 h, 3 D 50 1
Refusing to answer 50 1
1 C, 2NT 40 0
1 C, 4NT 40 1
1 D, 2 D 40 1
1 H, 2 D 20 2
1 D, 2 H 0 1


Tough hand, and unsurprisingly it inspired little consensus among the panelists. Geeselle speaks for the majority in one respect: “Probably the most reasonable action with a 4-loser 2-suited hand like this is to open 1D with an eye on reversing to 2H. The more conservative school would open 1H and rebid a mere 2D. Since this finds its way into WWGD, we can probably rule out both of those options.”

She is too generous to 1H-2D. It is true that many players would choose it, but it is so awful, holding a potential moose like this, that two of the world’s most eminent Gee-ologists were seduced. Wiss: “As Gee is notorious for crawling into the briar patch and emerging well-scratched, my guess is that he opened 1H and rebid a quiet 2D, leaving the last swing of the Louisville slugger to his crewpier, er, craptain, or whatever. We have seen the ignominious 170 before: Axxx,x,Kxx,Axxxx. ‘Why didn’t you raise, partner?’ Why indeed? Perhaps because he is familiar with cats stroked back to front…” Hernandez, too, took the bait: “Gee is a judicious point counter. ‘Twelve points is twelve points, mister. There is no hand that can reverse holding twelve points.’ Gerard can’t count tricks during the play of the hand and we want him to think about tricks during the auction? In the words of the inimitable John McEnroe: ‘You canNOT be serious!’ So 2D is [my] choice.” Gentlemen, gentlemen, would I really make it that obvious?

At any rate, Smith raises a salient objection to the sequence: “Anyone with half a brain that didn’t ride the little yellow school bus to school knows that 2 diamonds is gnu minor forcing and has nothing to do with diamonds and shows a much better hand.” Good point, but do they teach that prose style on the short bus too?

Tuncok, dazed, forgets that he has entered the looking-glass world, and actually selects the best bid: “Lots of playing strength in this hand, so I am guessing the auction went 1D – 1S – 2H…” Well, sure, but in WWGD that doesn’t quite follow.

Better understands the spirit of the proceedings: “Gee looks more deeply into the position — and makes the “approach-forcing” bid of 1c. True, the purist might frown on opening a singleton instead of a good 5 or 6 card suit – but as Gee so aptly illustrates in his tome “Bridge is a Conversation”, the purists are hardly all pure. Here, we start the conversation with a 1c bid – and await our partner’s 1d or 1h reply.

“See how much better this works? When partner responds 1d or 1h, we now don’t have to worry about the other suit – we’ve found our fit and we’re off to bigger and better things.”

The 1C is indeed a brilliant choice, and Better carefully considers the self-splinter, but chickens out: “[The 1S response] leaves two fine choices. 4C is a standout. While some STCP’s might take this as spade support with long good clubs, clearly that method is inferior when you hold this hand. Isn’t 4c in this auction a GREAT way to describe your singleton club and a desire to have partner choose between the red suits? It would be a magnificent bid, well worthy of inclusion in the all-time master calls. I’m certain it occurred to Gee, and he only regretfully eliminates it on the basis that his partner would probably not be up to recognizing the GEEnius of the call.”

Better chooses the slightly less inspired lunacy of 4NT instead, but all in all a bravura performance. Ross, who also mulled over 4C, eliminates it on more pragmatic grounds: “He could splinter in support of himself with 4C but that would be misunderstood as Gerber.”

While most of our panelists concerned themselves with showing both suits, Chorush thinks outside the box: “Is there yet a third way — perhaps the Gee way? Perhaps. One could open one diamond and rebid 2 diamonds. This would avoid the risk of needlessly exciting partner as well as make it rather likely that a substantial heart fit could be missed.” Wrong, but I like it.

Mori takes yet another novel approach: “1 Diamond is not incorrect for those who bid the shape of his hand in order; however, 4H as a choice of games following the inevitable 1S response may not fit the menu for most restaurants nor for those selecting that entree if that choice were there. The description of that entree would be entirely different for some people vis a vis void versus a 5 + card suit. Maybe that would be the 2-way bid guess hand of the week or part of the master system. You did give away the part 1 by asking the 2nd part. I thought that maybe he opened 2D and followed it by bidding hearts twice. After all there is plenty of meat for a weak 2 bid not to mention another place to play. This would have gotten the first suit length right the first time although the second heart bid may not have conveyed the wholesomeness nor the distribution of his hand. For that matter, this would be the ‘2 ways to skin the cat’ bid although both supposedly logical approaches leave endings appropriate for a movie company doing sequels of ‘What would happen if partner thought this way?'” Nice analysis. Perhaps Larry will answer the actual question by the time WWGD V rolls around.

We come at last to the jump-shifters. Geeselle reminds us that in orthodox captain-crew theory jump shifts are not forcing: “there’s only one logical possible sequence that Gerard would conceive. And that, of course, is the non-forcing jump shift. Not only is opener jump shift not forcing to game, it’s actually not forcing at all! Don’t believe me? Ask Gerard. He’ll tell you. Since 1H then 3D is not forcing at all, just shows a good hand, that is what Gerard will do.” Other panelists reasoned differently: why just reverse or jump shift when you can do both? Thus, cryptically, Larsen: “Seems logical bidding might go 1d-1s-3h or maybe 4h more descriptive, so that’s my answer.” And Ross: “Bidding 2H [after a 1D opener] certainly would not show this hand — any STCP knows that. 4H is a splinter in support of spades (but knowing the Master that might slip his mind). So the only remaining choice is 3H, the dreaded jump shift reverse.” Either of these choices has the virtue of criminal insanity; in fact the only thing wrong with them is that they’re, well, wrong.

Notrump received surprisingly little consideration. Hernandez gives it a passing glance: “On the fourth hand (used for typing the razor-sharp analyses we are so often blessed with), it cannot be stated enough how much Gee loves 2NT. That the Burger Bid was named by a couple of guys from Canada where, ironically, cases of Mad Cow disease have been reported should tell you something about the health of this bid. (I’m just saying…) We cannot therefore in any serious WWGD discussion ever rule out WeNT. (Double U, eN, T for those in the back of the room.) WeNT applies, in gee-land, whenever it is right. If you have two suits neither of which has been bid by the opponents or, and this is key, partner, then you employ WeNT. If on the same hand, you have a balanced invitation in no trump then you also use WeNT. Partner will know what is in your mind. Yes, yes he will.” Better rules out a 2NT rebid (over 1C of course) on less, shall we say, unusual grounds: “Some number of NT is certainly possible — if only to see how well your opening club bid works and if it forces the opponents to choose a red suit on opening lead. But an expert would see the enormous playing strength of this hand and not be ready to give up on slam.”

Only Smith saw the obvious: “1h-1s-1NT shows a minimum hand and denies 6 hearts. Hopefully partner can bid something else so I can show my diamonds, but for now I have to limit my hand and have partner take over as captain and maybe later in the auction I will take over the vessel. Let’s hope it has not capsized by that time because partners do have a way of sinking the ship.” Let’s.

The Moral

North held:

S A J 10 5 4
H 10 5 3
D K 7 3
C 10 3

The auction went 1D-1S-1NT-2S-3H (a WWGD call in itself!)-all pass. Eleven matchpoints. The heart game is better than 90%; five diamonds is slightly worse. Both make easily on the layout. After the hand Gee’s partner, Josh Donn, remarked that he didn’t care much for the 1NT bid. Gee replied, after a pause, “Nor I for 2S although I suppose I contributed.”

The Standings

Panelist Hands Average Score
Smith 4 90
Geeselle 2 75
Mori 4 73
Ross 4 73
Hernandez 3 73
Wiss 3 73
Robert 3 73
Chorush 3 63
Larsen 4 43
Better 2 30
Tuncok 3 23

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