On the 30th anniversary of "Ghost Busters", we start an experiment....  

Do the bridge ghosts invade your sleep because of a devilish hand?  Was there a confusing sequence of bids?  Did you throw partner a curve, or vice versa? 

       Who ya' gonna call ~ Hand Doctor. 

Submit your vexing bridge hands to Blackstone.co@comcast.net  


Case Number 11401:  Partner did what?

Dear Doctor,  I was in the D17 Pikes Peak Regional when this problem came up in a team game.  We ended up in a five club contract and at the other table they ended up in 4 Spades.   I opened a Spade in first seat.  We got slimmed, though I expect it was our own fault.  This hand haunts me.  My partner, was in 3rd seat and had the hand below.  How should he have bid this hand after I opened 1S?

The 3rd seat hand (responder's), Not Vul

   Responder's Hand

   3rd seat, not vulnerable

  A K J x x
  x x
  A K J x x x

Dear Haunted,

I would be immediately be thinking of a spade slam with your hand.  You have a four losing trick hand, a minimum of 10 trumps, and first round control in three suits!  This monster qualifies as a MONSTER.  All of your bidding decisions should be constructed with learning more about key cards in your partner's hand.  Keep that goal in mind when considering your bid options.  The bidding path, of course, depends on the methods that you and partner have at your disposal. 

What can you do if your "tools" are limited to splinters and Jacoby 2NT. 

I would make a strong argument in favor of Jacoby 2NT rather than a splinter bid.  While a splinter is often useful, on this hand your "short" suit is hearts, meaning that your splinter bid (4 Hearts) would consume an enormous amount of bidding space. 

I can imagine hands partner might hold that would easily make slam opposite your monster, but partner might be very nervous about going past 4S given his weak Spades.  Partner is likely has points in hearts.  Would he risk making a diamond cue bid at the 5 level with such a hand?  If your splinter was in the club suit instead, partner could make a diamond cue bid safely under game.  Moreover, the splinter bid conceals one of the strongest aspects of your hand -- the trick taking ability of your club suit.

What about Jacoby 2NT?  An obvious advantage is that you've immediately saved a level and a half of bidding space.  You will discover more about partner's hand.  What bids might you expect to hear from partner?  Partner might try to sign off in 4S.  That won't hurt because you can now cue bid 5C, and you'll find out immediately if partner has the crucial diamond control.  Because you "ran through the 4S stop sign," partner will know that you have at least a promising monster.  What if partner bids 3C, showing club shortness?  Once again, that bid does not cause trouble because you can now cue bid 3H, pinpointing your concern about the diamond suit. 

Obviously, if partner makes any of the "stronger" answers to 2NT, you'll be thinking of a possible grand slam, rather than just a small one.

More advance players might bring up other potential bidding systems that might apply to his hand.   For example 2/1 players my start with a 2 Club game force bid and take it slow showing extras. 

Note, that Blackwood or RKC on this hand may not help responder make a slam/GRAND decision.  Ideally, you want partner to eventually cue bid Diamonds for either first or second round control.  Partner will be declarer and the opening lead will help him.



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