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Boyd-Robinson

Boyd-Robinson D.C.-area professionals Peter Boyd and Steve Robinson have played together for nearly thirty years. For a partnership to last that long, you know they’ve gotta be good. During that time they’ve established themselves as one of the top pairs in the U.S. and a force at the world level. Lying in their trophy case is the prestigious Rosenblum Cup, which they won in 1986, as well as 31 NABC victories between the two of them. Robinson owns an additional mixed world championship and two senior world championships. They will be representing the U.S. again this year at the Senior Bowl as members the KASLE team, but Peter looks so young we have emailed the organizers to double check for a fake birth certificate. Their contributions to bridge are widely recognized. Robinson was elected to the ACBL Hall of Fame in 2003, and Boyd—as fine a man you could ever lose to—was honored with the Sidney Lazard Jr. Sportsmanship Award in 2009. Today’s hand comes from the finals of the Grand National Teams from the recent NABC in Toronto.


Boyd
AKQJ642
6532
Q
3
Rodwell
75
KJ10
986
J9854
Robinson
1093
Q
KJ3
AKQ1062
Meckstroth
8
A9874
A107542
7
W
N
E
S
1
2NT
4
4NT
P
5
P
P
P
D
30
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
J
5
3
8
0
0
1
3
4
10
7
2
0
2
A
4
Q
5
0
0
3
A
7
9
2
3
1
3
5
4
9
K
2
1
4
K
7
6
8
3
2
4
4
2
10
Q
2
2
5
7 tricks claimed
N/S -200
7


Four Spades
2NT showed at least 5 cards in both red suits. After an unusual no-trump both 3 and 3 should be artificial. A popular treatment is for one to show spades and the other a good club raise. Boyd-Robinson play that 3 would show clubs, 3 would show 5+ with invitational or better values. Does 3 set up a force if the opponents bid again? Most partnerships would say no, because 3 is not game forcing. But does it depend on the level they bid to? Here, West’s problem is murky: what is the correct way to show ownership of the hand and a single-suited hand with spades? 3 doesn’t describe West’s offensive power and 5-level preemption is a live possibility. In that case West might have to make the last guess. Is there a better solution for this situation?

North’s Four No Trump
Typically, UFR only considers the actions on one side of the table; however, the 4NT bid deserves attention. At favorable vulnerability 4NT might be a majority choice, but what about at equal vulnerability? Perhaps Rodwell was swayed by the wide-ranging nature of the 4 bid. 4NT could lead to a good sacrifice or, on a good day, push the opponents too high. If North chooses to bid, 4NT is clearly the best option. It allows the partnership to reach any 9-card fit they may have and if South is 5-5 he can still punt back with 5 to reach their stronger suit.

East’s Pass of Four No Trump / Five Diamonds
Assuming a force was not established by West’s 4 bid, does East have a call over 4NT? Would double show extra values, suggest doubling the final contract, encourage further bidding, or establish a force? Are 5 or 5 possible bids? East’s hand has excellent offense opposite a partner with long spades, but is it good enough to declare at the 5-level with the KJ under the 2NT bidder? North has presumably shown at least 3-3 in the reds (possibly 4-4) so West is marked with at most two diamonds. If the suit can be guessed for one loser (or if the opponents make the wrong lead) then 5 rates to make. With the strong club suit 5 might also come in but, considering the inevitable bad splits, it’s probably safer to play in the side’s guaranteed 9- or 10-card fit.

East’s singleton Q and black-suit lengths make his hand ill-suited for defense. 5 doesn’t rate to be down much, if at all. Shouldn’t East be concerned with losing equity against a making 4? Would bidding on to 5 maximize his expected value on the hand? Our problem with passing both 4NT and 5 is that, although it might not lead to the worst possible result, it will virtually never lead to the best possible result either. While there are times that is acceptable, is this really one of them?

West’s Pass of Five Diamonds
4 didn’t fully describe West’s offensive potential, but the hand’s defensive values are few and far between. Like East, should West double 5 simply to protect the equity of 4? Bidding 5—knowing partner is marked with short hearts—is also possible. Boyd-Robinson have agreed that jumps to game don’t establish a force. However, they also don’t preempt over preempts and they are in a force when it sounds like the opponents are saving. So, which rule takes priority here? Is pass of 5 forcing or not? What if North were a passed hand or East-West were unfavorable?

Single-dummy, East-West would like to declare 5 rather than defend 5-X. But either is preferable to defending 5 undoubled. Would a system improvement have resolved this disaster, or was there a simpler way to get through this particular dilemma?

We pulled the tape, now we invite you to make the call.

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