Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

The same story all over again

USA won the  match I was watching in the Buffett Cup 8.5 boards to 5.5 boards.  It was quite fascinating.   Would you believe it if I told you that Bob Hamman and Zia Mahmood reached 7S on two boards of this 14 board match and neither board had any play in primarily uncompetitive auctions?  The first board was off an ace and since Blackwood was used with a 5 response the most likely thing is that Zia miscounted.  We all make those sorts of mistakes under pressure on rare occasions. 

The second board is more interesting.  It was the very last board of the set and as usual the opponents did not get to slam at all.  How often that happens.   I was going to ask you to assess the blame.  The problem is that I have no idea what one of the bids meant in their auction.

Bob Hammond opened 1in first chair with all vulnerable.  Zia held


♠ QJ85
♥ A10842
◊ void
♣ J843


What would you bid?  First is this hand a game force or not?  I don’t think so but I would hate it if I made a limit raise and my partner passed.  Still Bob knows we are vulnerable too and I can trust him to push for game.  If you want to make a game raise than I do like 4splinter instead of 2.  The best thing about my hand is my diamond void so I may as well show it.  I also like to play that the splinter is limited.  If you play that than it is even more attractive. 

Over 4Hammon bid 4NT.  I am not sure what responses they are playing.  If you can show one keycard and a useful void I suppose you should.  Zia bid 6.  This is not a response I am familiar with.  I suspect it isn’t a standard response.  If it is intended to show a void an ace and a heart feature it is an overbid.  Hammon went on to 7.

This is his hand

♠ AK974
♥ J3
◊ AK3
♣ A62


6 makes when hearts work out reasonably but 7 is Dead On Arrival.  Perhaps with the wasted honours in diamonds Bob shouldn’t have pushed so hard but a lot of the discussion of this hands depends on their agreements.  What exactly does the splinter show and what does 6♥ mean. 

In the other room Hamman’s hand bid 4over the splinter.  Unless the splinter showed very minimal values this seems conservative to me.

I was thinking about how you would get to slam without the splinter.  Suppose that your auction starts 1-3 (4 card limit raise).  I know partner has a stiff diamond but that means this hand only have 4 losers opposite nothing in partner’s hand.  It seems to me it is still worth a slam try.  I think I would bid 4.  Partner should cooperate with 4♥ and I think I would press on.  But I have sympathy with those that just bid 4.  What do you think? 

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