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Cheek-Grue

Cheek-Grue Together, Curtis Cheek and Joe Grue form a partnership that is a rare bird in high-level bridge. Not only are they world-class, but you would be hard pressed to find a peer that isn’t genuinely happy for them when they do well—such as during their 2011 run to Vanderbilt finals. In addition to his finals appearance, “Joe Boo” recently entered the BridgeWinners spotlight with two published articles . But if there’s one thing that the BW community loves more than an accomplished pair such as this, it is giving that pair a good roast—Enter UFR. This week’s deal comes from the quarterfinals of the 2008 USBC.

Rosenberg
2
KQJ953
Q
Q10752
Grue
J109875
7
K76
KJ9
Zia
A6
8642
984
A863
Cheek
KQ43
A10
AJ10532
4
W
N
E
S
 
2
P
2
X
4
4
5
5
P
5
P
5N
P
6
X
P
P
P
D
105
6X North
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
4
2
9
2
0
1
4
J
Q
K
1
1
1
5
A
11 tricks claimed
N/S -200
3


The auction requires some explanation. Rosenberg and ERROR: UNKNOWN USER "zia-mahmood" IN INTERNAL PROFILE LINK. Try username, email, or FIRSTNAME LASTNAME. played their 2 response as a form of the Ogust convention, a completely artificial bid that asks opener to further describe his hand. Rosenberg’s 4 response was natural, showing at least 6-5 shape. As usual, the high-level preemption caused problems. Let’s investigate the bidding.

Double
Whether 2 is natural and forcing, nonforcing, or Ogust, what defensive bidding agreements should be employed? In a perfect world, defenses could be tailored to counter the style of any pair that sat down at the table. Straight-shooters’ auctions could be handled naturally, while those who commonly psyche in preemptive auctions would be handled more delicately. In practice, a partnership usually equips themselves with the agreements they believe will be the most effective, most often.

Cheek opted to double the artificial 2, takeout of hearts. The partnership plays Equal Level Conversion (ELC) over 2M and 3M openings, which allows them to correct a club response to diamonds without promising extra values. Even though they employ ELC, is double a better choice than 3?

Four Spades
NEXT!

Five Diamonds
There are several important questions to address at this point:

  1. Did the 4 bid create a force? Does vulnerability matter?
  2. Is it possible to investigate an alternate strain at the 5-level?
  3. Does 5 show a hand too good to overcall 3?
    1. Should it be a cue bid for spades?
    2. Should 5 be the only spade slam-try at this point?


There is no reason to believe the North-South are in a forcing pass situation, even at unfavorable vulnerability: no one has expressed ownership of the hand. Consequently, South felt obliged to bid with extra offensive strength. Had South been able to bid 5 directly over 4, there’s no doubt that it would show a very strong hand with primary diamonds (single-suited diamond hands would bid either 3 or 4 over the 2 inquiry). But how should this hand type be handled after the 5 interference? Arguably, 5 by South is the only slam try. Strong, flexible diamond hands would simply jump to slam. If that is the case, then should 5 offer an alternate game here?

Five Hearts
Because there was no room to investigate slam, 5 wasn’t specifically a heart cue bid but Last Train . However, there was a difference of opinion over the expected strength of the North cards because Cheek felt that 5 was passable while Grue had doubt.

North has extra spade length and excellent diamond support as well as a useful singleton. On the other hand, there are no aces, no high spade honors, and wasted club values. Did the 4 bid already express the full value of the North hand, or might it have been much worse? Is it possible to pass 4 with a hand that doesn’t have the values for a free bid, hoping to back in with 4 later? Or does 4 have an inherently wide range? Where is the limit?

Five Notrump
Cheek felt that Grue would pass 5 or bid 5 with JTxxxx x Kxx xxx. Is Grue’s actual hand a functional equivalent? Cheek opted to bid slam, giving Grue a choice between the pointed suits along the way. But would 5 be enough?

With an enormous amount of potential bidding sequences available, not even the world’s best-practiced partnerships can prepare for them all. Jimmy Cayne (‘JEC’) often compares the concept to an onion, “Peel back a layer and there’s always another one.” How might Cheek-Grue have better dealt with this ‘layer’?

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

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