Today found me back at the bridge club, sitting across from the Mad Scientist. He created a new alert, “I.S.R.: If She Remembered”. I was hurt, because naturally he tacked this on to an alert for one of the few bids in his system that I’ve never forgotten, or, at least, I don’t remember ever having forgotten it.
As a matter of fact, during the whole session, I made very few mistakes, but that was probably because I got very few good cards. Of twenty-five hands, I played a grand total of three. TMS only played seven. Which is to say, we played lots and lots of defense so I mostly just had to give count and signal that I didn’t like any suit. If we had a defensive signal for, “You’re on your own, partner!” I would have been using it a lot today. On one hand that TMS actually opened I had 9 HCP AND three card support for his major, but still < 1 cover card. It was hands down the worst 9 HCP I've ever seen with a trump fit.
I did make one bad opening lead, but the correct lead was either my singleton trump or leading away from KJxxx -- neither of which were a very attractive option. Of course, if I do happen to find the correct lead on that hand it would be just enough to push us into first instead of second. Sadly, for us, anyone who thoughtlessly leads fourth from their longest and strongest no matter the auction or the contract will have stumbled upon one of the two leads that beats the damn thing. Figures, doesn't it?
Yesterday I got an e-mail from TMS outlining some new responses he wanted to use over 2♣ openers -- steps: control showing, but rather more specific than the usual nonsense. As I've noted here in the past, I've never been a fan of steps and only play them under protest. My teacher is a big proponent of staying the h_ll out of the way of the 2♣ bidder and that means bidding 2♦ most of the time unless one has a very good suit of ones own. TMS had described this system to me maybe a week ago and noted that he found it superior to using the 2♦ waiting bid and, needless to say, other "step" responses. Anyway I printed it out, glanced it over and stuck it in my system notes binder. Before the session today I teased him about all the words used to describe what boiled down to one very specific holding, "3 of a suit = 6+ card one loser suit (opposite a singleton) off the ace". Me: "Couldn't you just say it has to be KQJxxx?" TMS: "Well, it could also be KQxxxxxx."
What I have just described is the full extent of my study of this new series of responses so when in the third round TMS opened 2♣ I had a terrible realization and that was: He thinks we’re playing the new responses.
I looked at my hand which included exactly and only the AKxxx in diamonds: So a king=1 and an ace=2 so I have three … but wait, they’re in the same suit so that’s something special. 2NT? 2NT… 2NT, no wait that’s the Magi bid or maybe just three but in separate suits … and 2♦ is 0-1 or 4 and 2♥ is 2 or 5 and 3 of anything is that hand I’ll never have so it has to be 2♠. Must be. Uh-oh I’ve been thinking, I almost never stop to think so what if the fact that I’m thinking now makes him think I don’t remember? What if he thinks I have spades? Oh well, here goes. I pulled out the 2♠ card and put it on the table. I was greatly relieved when TMS promptly alerted my bid. After that bidding the slam was relatively easy (well, for me anyway, I didn’t have to do anything except tell him which suit I had the AK in and he did the rest) and just like that I was a convert to the new scheme. I.S.R. indeed.