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Coffee House Blues
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In a recent regional KO my team sat down after dinner to play a 3-way match.  On the first hand the opponent did something unbelievably dirty.

My partner and I had the following auction.

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Over my 2 Stayman response, my LHO (yes the hand who will be on lead) started to think. At the time I wrote that off to him still being at dinner. Then after my 4 call, he went into a solid tank.  He asked about my partner's 3 call.  I told him it was Smolen, showing 5 hearts and 4 spades.  He then asked if it promised spades.  While it had never happened with this partner, I am aware that some experts occasionally mess around with Smolen, so I answered "he has implied 4 spades but definitely shows 5 hearts."

He then thinks for a little longer before he finally passes.  As we were putting the bidding cards he said out loud, "I was thinking about doubling". I didn't really care much about the comment since it was so obvious anyways.  I played the hand out and made 4.  His hand turned out to be: Qxxx xx Axxxx 10x.

I could call the director and make accusations as clearly this guy should not be getting away with this behavior.  The problem is that there is nothing really to immediately gain from starting a fight with my opponents and I prefer to exploit his coffeehousing for the rest of the match.  If I call him out for it he will probably stop doing it in fear of being punished.  I know that after the match I can file a recorder form on him and he will be penalized for repeat offenses.

A few boards later, my partner was declaring after the auction 1NT-3NT and had the following suit combination:

Dummy   J9642

Hand       AK853

This 10-card fit has a nice little twist.  You need a 2-1 break to legitimately get all five tricks, but there is no cost to starting with dummy's jack hoping to induce a cover from East with Q107.  Since you haven't shown the 5-card club suit, it is not so easy for a defender duck the jack when holding the queen and the ten. Once you've seen this situation a few times it gets easier.  Covering here can cost a trick on more than just this holding, but like I said we were just back from dinner so you could easily see the opponents lazily covering.  

After my partner called for the Jack from dummy, Mr Barista gave the courtesy hesitation. My partner was obviously never considering finessing and went on to play Ace King to expose that the hesitation was on a singleton.  

Again, neither my partner nor I called attention to this obviously illegal behavior. During our halftime we spoke about how some people just don't understand how much knowing you are this type of player helps an expert.  

Midway through the second half we had the following deal come up:

South
AK4
AJ9
742
Q763
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
X
P
3
P
?

After responsibly not opening 1NT with this 4-3-3-3 14 count, I made a support double and partner cued 3 which is just an ambiguous game force. What would you bid?

South
AK4
AJ9
742
Q763
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
X
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
?

I chose to bid 3. I was torn on this action as I would really like to show my quality spades in case partner might need some help for 3NT, but I was a little afraid that partner without a diamond stopper would raise me to 4 with only 3 spades in an attempt to play a 4-3 spade fit.  I haven't seen this spot so often and am not confident I made the right bid. Regardless, after my 3 bid, my partner bid 4, showing slam interest in clubs. Our agreement is that 4 now would be keycard for clubs and that other bids below 5 would be cue-bids in support of clubs, with 4NT being a replacement cue for diamonds. Your turn.

South
AK4
AJ9
742
Q763
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
X
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
?

Given that I haven't shown any extras, I felt that my hand was about as good as it gets for slam.  With a small fear that 4 might end the auction, I decided to bid 4.  Partner bid 4NT showing a diamond control, leaving me with the final decision.  Which would it be?

With diamonds now known to be under control and partner still interested opposite a good 1NT rebid, I bid the slam.  

North
862
K1054
A
AK842
South
AK4
AJ9
742
Q763
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
X
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
6
P
P
P

They lead the J and the perfect dummy hit.  I won the ace and quickly called for the ace of clubs intending to draw trumps and take a simple heart finesse for 6 or 7.  Unfortunately East showed out of clubs.  Now what?

North
862
K1054
K842
South
AK4
AJ9
74
Q76
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
X
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
6
P
P
P

It now became apparent that I needed to solve the heart suit in order to make the hand. What I would typically do here is focus my energy on figuring out who has longer hearts. If I came to the conclusion that East had longer hearts, then my best play for 4 heart tricks would be to play a heart to the jack, return to dummy, and then play a heart to the 9.  If it was West who rated to have extra length in hearts then my best play is to cash the ace of hearts and run the jack through West.  

This wasn't a typical situation.  I had my friend the coffee-houser on my left.  I know there is no way he will be able to resist hesitating on my jack of hearts if he has nothing in the suit.  Given my discussion with my partner at halftime, I know that he will be supportive of me going with this read.  So I returned to my hand to lead the jack of hearts and sure enough my opponent hesitated.  I quickly called for the king and finessed against the queen on the way back. Hearts were 3-3 with East holding the queen, so I made 6.

There wasn't a single hand in the match where my opponent gained anything from his actions.  Rather than having a fight all evening with our opponents we all enjoyed a pleasant match and man did this hand feel sweet. :)

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