Deal Of The Week: January 24, 2023

How Well Do You Know Your Conventions?

Does Partner Agree With Your Ideas on Continuations?

Conventional bids come with costs as well as advantages, but one hidden cost many partnerships take on is in not knowing much beyond the basic responses. Even the most common conventions are apt to cause trouble when the auction takes an unexpected turn. Do you and partner know what it means:

These are just common conventions that almost everyone plays, but I see these secondary questions come up often and although they all have simple answers in any established partnership, many players slow to a crawl as they work out what makes sense at the table (and hope that their answer matches their partner's expectations). The even newer stuff that everyone wants to play gives us new problems that are even more mind-bending. When people ask me to play Puppet Stayman I warn them that I basically have to work it out whenever it comes up, and that's just the first few bids, after which I am improvising. Here is an example (deal rotated for convenience): Click the 'Next' button repeatedly and watch the comments appear below to go through the deal with me...

Other table auction:

The other table got all the way to 5. South passed over the takeout double and E-W found their heart fit, although after North rebid clubs, South competed with 3 and then with 4, which no doubt had an effect on North's decision to bid 5 over 4. Unlucky: 4 goes down one with a club, two hearts, and the offside K to lose, so 5 was a sacrifice against nothing. The swing of 11 IMPs was a match turner as we won by 10...

Hard to say which action by which South is more dangerous: my move of bidding 1 with a minimum forced me into the 2 call, but also kept West from getting in a one-level response to the takeout double, and I was at least able to get out at the three level, and although 3 should have been defeated, it is hard to imagine it costing too much: any layout where 3 goes more than one down will probably be one in which East-West can make 4. My counterpart at the other table passed on the first round but then chose to raise clubs twice, which caused the North player to take out insurance against the real possibility of 4 making for what might be a big swing. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that the support double can put partner into a rather difficult situation, especially in a competitive auction, and forces bids like 2 in order to keep the opponents from playing in a doubled partscore. Bids made by the partner of the support doubler, when passing leaves the opponents in a doubled contract, should be highly suspect: maybe a useful agreement is that redouble shows the 5-3 fit! Partner had a good hand but did very well to bid only 3!

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