Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rosencranz and Expanded Advances

My recent blog was intended to introduce Rosencrantz Doubles and Redoubles as responses to overcalls when Advancer (overcaller’s partner) has 3 card support. In what I thought was a “free toss”, I quickly dispatched advancer’s other supporting options as either a cue bid to show limit raise hands or a law of total tricks preemptive bid to show weaker hands with 4+ card support. “Incomplete and over generalized” says my Rochester, New York, partner Carol Van Der Voorn. “You wouldn’t make the same bid with 4 card support and 0-6 hcps as you would with 7-9 hcps, would you?”

Now even with a blog to flog with, you don’t want to mess with Carol. Three reasons: her beliefs about good bridge bidding are more than a little entrenched, she’s always ready with proof and citations and she is mostly right. I confess, I was trying to end the unrelated Rosencrantz discussions without putting too fine a point on “other supporting bids.” No such luck, back to the drawing board.

Let’s set up an auction: 1c/1h/x/? Here are the first two hands for Advancer: (i) xx, Qxxx, Qxxxx, xx and (ii) Ax, QJxx, xx, Jxxxx.

All my novice readers are on testosterone overload, so I think they would have no trouble bidding 3 hearts on hand (i). It is the new bridge that “the less you know the more important it is that you bid.” I was a guest in a novice game recently and I think I declared 1 hand! Hand (ii) is a little more troublesome. The usual choices are bidding 2 hearts, cue bidding 2 clubs (to show a limit raise and support) or preempting to 3 hearts..

Now if those are your only choices, I think in the long run with hand (ii) you will wish you had preempted by bidding 3 hearts. The hand is too weak for a cue bid and you run the risk that overcaller will misread your hand and run away with the auction. If you make the simple supporting bid of 2 hearts, as sure as God made green tomatoes you are going to hear opener bid 2 spades. Another sign of modern bridge, the pass and double cards are missing from the box, so everybody takes the push. Now without the “boss suit”, it will be hard to ever regain control of the auction.

The Mixed Raise
There is another choice for hand (ii) that I neglected to mention. The bid is some something called a ”mixed raise” which is shown by a jump cue bid in opener’s bid suit. It is a bid that is both preemptive and constructive, requires 4+ trump, generally has one defensive trick and will fall in the 7-9 hcp range. Mixed Raises usually have 8 or 9 Losing Trick Count.
Let’s look at a few more examples: (iii) Axx, Kxxxx ,xx, JTx (iv) Kxx, KJTx, Jxxx, xx (v) KJ43, KJ65, xx, xxx. All of these would be suitable for a mixed raise to 3 clubs in the example sequence.

Most of you play "Bergen" raises when you are responding to a major suit opening. The mixed raise has nothing to do with Bergen Raises, but note that all of the mixed raise hands look very much like the same hands that make a 3 diamond response playing Bergen Raises.

If overcaller has a standard overcall with 7 Losing Trick Count, he will simply bid 3 hearts and that ends the auction. If overcaller bids any other suit below 3 hearts it would be a game try. If Advancer has an 8 LTC hand he should accept and bid 4 hearts and with 9 LTC return to 3 hearts. Overcaller may bid 4 hearts directly with a strong overcall or excellent distribution. Remember that overcaller and advancer need to have a combined LTC of 14 or less to have a reasonable play for game.

The Fit Showing Jump
If you want a bid for every occasion, there are other supporting bids that Advancer can make. Now we are moving from intermediate play to the advanced category. Fit showing jumps show 4+ card length in overcaller’s suit, a good 5 card suit of your own with 2-3 working honors and 10-11 hcps.
The hand might look like this xx, KTxx AQxxx, Jx. Assume the same bidding sequence 1c/1h/x/?. To show the “fit showing jump” you jump in your 5 card suit, so in our sequence the bid would be 3 diamonds. You might say, well I could have made a simple cue bid on that hand. True enough, but with the fit showing jump you are passing additional vital information to overcaller. If overcaller holds the King of diamonds, his hand just got a whole lot better. Light contracts are made on double fits.

The Splinter
Surely you didn’t think I was done. The bidding is again 1c/1h/x/?. As advancer you hold xxx, QJTxx, AKxx, x. A cue bid could be made to do the job, but again it doesn’t really show the power of this hand, much of which lies in the single club. While it technically has only 10 hcps, the honors in sequence supporting each other and the singleton, make it a very strong playing hand in support of hearts. With this hand I think it is correct to show the splinter by bidding 4 clubs. Against any kind of disciplined overcall, this hand should have a good play for game.

So now if you combine the two ways to show 3 card support with Rosenkranz, the standard preemptive raise, the cue bid to show the limit raise, the Mixed Raise shown by the jump cue bid, the Fit Showing Jumps shown by jumping in your own 5 card suit and the Splinter Bid showing support and shortness, I believe you have a full menu to show your support for partner’s overcall. Now all you need is a graduate student at MIT for a partner!

No comments: