Deal 8H?

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 08/19/2009
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

This deal comes from the 2009 Life Master Pairs in Washington D.C.

?Q 8 4 2
? A K Q J
? A 10 4
? 4 2
At unfavorable vulnerability, I opened this hand 1NT (14-16). Partner transferred to clubs (via 2?) and I had a decision. Over such minor-suit transfers, there are 2 steps. I could bid either 2NT (the "in between step") or 3?. One of these replies shows a minimum, the other a maximum. It is slightly better to use the in between step as the minimum. Even though I had 16 HCP, I disliked my two low clubs, so I treated the hand as a minimum in support of clubs. I bid 2NT.

Partner now used Blackwood. A jump to 4NT would be quantitative, but we have a specialized way to ask for keycards. A jump to one-over the trump suit (in this case 4?) asks for keycards. This is called Kickback. RHO doubled to show diamonds. Now, we used another specialized method. When responding to "Kickback," if it is doubled, we play "Fast Denies."  "Fast" means to answer right away. If I directly answer Kickback (after the double), I deny a control in diamonds. If I have the suit controlled (as here), I go "Slowly." I passed to show a control and partner redoubled to say, "that's nice, now tell me how many keycards you have."  This same treatment is very useful when Stayman gets doubled (fast denies--and the Stayman bidder redoubles to repeat the Stayman ask, but knows the opener has clubs stopped).

I showed my 2 keycards and partner bid 6?. I passed, but LHO saved in 6?. This was the long and winding road so far:


  David    Larry
--  --  -- 1NT
Pass 2? Pass 2NT
Pass 4?*  Double Pass**
Pass Redouble Pass 4NT
Pass 6?  Pass Pass
6? Pass Pass ??
Now what?  Readers of "My Favorite 52" will have a clue from the title of this deal.

I bid 6?!

With my 16 HCP and having shown a minimum, partner had driven to 6?. Surely we were making that contract (I thought). I had nothing wasted in diamonds (the opponents obviously had lots of diamond cards).Partner must have great clubs and something in spades in order to have driven to slam.

I couldn't bid 7?, but I did have a surprise heart suit. I bid 6?. Everyone passed, and this was the full deal.:

 *Asking for ?Keycards
**Showing a ?Control (Fast denies)


Vul: Both
Dir: South
?K 3
?10 8 6
?A K Q 10 9 6 5
?A J 5
?7 4 3 2
?Q 8 6 2
?J 8
  ?10 9 7 6
?9 5
?K J 9 7 3
?7 3
  ?Q 8 4 2
?A K Q J
?A 10 4
?4 2
In My Favorite 52, Chapter 8, I went off into tangential deals 8A, 8B, 8C,...8G to show some amazing 4-3 fits (even a 4-2 fit).

Here was another 4-3 fit--thus I could call it Deal 8H.  

How did we do?  West could have led the ?A to hold us to our 12 top tricks, but he led a diamond.

I was able to ruff a diamond in dummy, draw trump and take all 13 tricks for +1460. This was a top board. Many pairs were in 6?, but even those who reached the superior 6NT could take only 12 top tricks (on any lead) for +1440.

I guess we stumbled into this one!