On Sunday, during a Swiss teams event, I demonstrated once again why it is almost never a good idea for me to go “off book” with my bidding. In third seat, vulnerable against not, I picked up:
I was all ready to open a gambling 3NT when my RHO opened 1♠. Of course, I don’t like the vulnerability, but if my partner has a spade stopper and at least one club we’re very likely to only be down one in 3NT. If my partner does not have a spade stopper we’re very likely only down two in 4♣ and while at matchpoints, 4♣X down two would be a disaster, this was IMPs. Plus I had a sneaking suspicion that our opponents might have a spade slam (just call me “Sherlock”). So I bid 3♠ asking partner to bid 3NT with a spade stopper. My LHO goes into the tank for a bit, asks my partner what my bid means and gets the response that I am asking him to bid 3NT with a spade stopper. Finally my LHO bids 5♠. Partner asks the opening bidder what that bid means and is told it is asking if he is at the top or bottom of his opening bid. Unfortunately(?) my partner has a spade stopper and so feels compelled to double 5♠ because he has no idea what my hand actually looks like (how could he?). At that point I bid 6♣, LHO doubles and my partner pulls to 6♥. The whole auction:
Not surprisingly, 6♥ is down four for -1100. Our teammates bid and made a small slam in spades, but of course we still lost IMPs on the deal (I hate to admit this, but in three of the last four IMP games I’ve played in I’ve gone for -1100 — nasty habit). As it turned out, my partner has three clubs to the jack, but he thought my bids showed something like a Michael’s type hand and felt he was not pulling, but correcting to hearts. We hadn’t discussed anything like a leaping Michael’s cue-bid so that particular interpretation hadn’t entered my mind when I bid 3♠, but I did know it wasn’t likely that he’d be able to guess what my hand looked like based on the bidding which is never a good thing in a partnership game. And, yes, I am still kicking myself for not passing 5♠X.