Recently, on the next to last Board, I was dealt x, Txxxx, Kx, AJxxx. Partner and I were riding a 60% game going into the last set so I was hoping for something prosaic that would not cause a big swing. I was thinking maybe partner will pass or open a club, heart, diamond or 1NT, and I will skate out of this hand without serious injury. The Bridge Gods don’t let you off the hook that easy. By now you have guessed that partner opened 1 spade. We were playing Standard American with 1NT forcing. Thus, a 2/1 bid showed 10 hcps. I am not above telling a little lie but usually it is the "least worst lie" and would indicate the lack of a better bid.
Whether you are playing SAYC or 2/1 game force, my hand is what the 1NT forcing bid was designed for, so I decided to play it straight and run in the same direction as the rest of the field. The opponents passed (darn it) and partner now bids 2 diamonds.
Well, what do we know about partner’s hand? If he held 6 spades he would have rebid spade, so 5 spades it is. Partner also has 0-3 hearts since he would have bid 2 hearts with 4+ hearts. Another rule of 1NT forcing rebids is that if your clubs are at least equal in length to your diamonds, you always bid clubs. This gives responder more space and options for his rebid. So what we have left is that partner has 4-6 diamonds and 0-3 hearts. Oh, we need to one more rule. Responder does not introduce a new suit on his rebid unless he has 6 of them. So now that I have gathered all this intelligence for you, what action do you take after partner bids 2 diamonds? Hint: Going to the restroom is not an option! Further hint: There are no winners in this game except those that look in partner’s hand!
I had a lot of a lot of partners and friends, whose bidding skills I respect, look at this hand. Most took a view, but nobody was satisfied with their answer or strongly convinced that the course of action selected was the right one. About this time I got Larry Cohen’s free newsletter (www.larryco.com)and noticed he was doing a 2/1 game force series and in the current letter discussing the 1NT forcing response and its continuations. How timely I thought, so I sent the hand to Larry and requested that I be able to quote his response in this blog.
Larry is good about staying in touch and sure enough I got an e-mail back from him shortly. Here is his entire response:
Sure, you can quote me.
This problem is a headache beyond belief. I would answer by asking if you want me to submit it to the Bridge World Master Solvers Club.
So, if you are a Bridge World subscriber, you will see this hand and expert analysis in the coming months. When I get it I will also reproduce the results in a follow up blog. Are you truly an expert? Here is your chance to find out.