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Fleisher-Kamil
flamil Fresh off their Vandy win, we’re putting current USA1 team members Marty Fleisher and Michael Kamil under the microscope. Note to Chip and Lew: if you thought being Steve’s teammate hid you from the eyes of UFR, think again.

This week’s hand comes from their 2007 Vanderbilt quarterfinal match against Henner-Welland, that year’s eventual champion.

When it comes to grand-slam auctions, high-level preemption usually turns a difficult endeavor into an insoluble problem. There’s no doubt that preempts are effective, but when a world-class pair is left with room to investigate and stretches to a poor grand, it’s time for the deal to come under further review.

Sementa
8532
J94
KQJ6
94
Fleisher
AQJ10
Q762
K8763
Henner
4
K105
A98542
J105
Kamil
K976
A83
1073
AQ2
W
N
E
S
1
1
1
3
4
5
5NT
P
6
P
7
P
P
P
D
27
7 South
NS: 0 EW: 0


Should North bid 4?
He has great trumps and the void is working overtime. That being said, North is a big card away from feeling good about the bid. 4 might get the partnership to a hard-to-bid game. It also might accelerate them towards a poor higher-level contract.

What is the difference between bidding 4 and jumping to 4?
  • Does 4 guarantee a spade fit?
  • Does 4 show shortness? Or does it show: 
    • A bigger 4 bid
    • Any big hand without a clear direction

What should South bid over 5?
This problem was accepted by The Bridge World as a Master Solvers’ Club problem in 2008. In other words, it’s a doozy. South—with plenty of controls, zero diamond wastage, and great clubs—should drive to slam and probe for a grand along the way. There are a few possible paths, lets take a look at them:
  1. Pass : North’s 4 call set up a forcing pass. South could pass, intending to pull partner’s double to 5, which would show serious slam interest. If partner bids 5, rather than double, he can bid 6 and follow through with 6 over partner’s 6. If partner bids 5, South has got to like that!
  2. 5 : Bidding 5 directly would clarify South’s intentions for slam and paves the way for grand exploration. It also implies the A, a card that would seem to be denied by...
  3. 5NT : 5NT, like its younger brother, 4NT, is sometimes open to interpretation. Three common meanings are pick-a-slam, grand slam force, and a general grand try. Which should apply here?
  4. 6 : From South’s perspective North is a lock to have 5+ clubs. With such a strong club holding and paltry spades, it’s possible that clubs will play better. Imagine North with AJxx KQx KJ10xxx.

How should North respond to 5NT?
This depends entirely on North’s interpretation of 5NT. If it’s pick-a-slam, 6 seems clear due to suit quality. If 5NT is a grand try, the questions are 1) if it denies the A and 2) whether North should cooperate with exploring for a grand. It seems that North has already shown his hand’s full value with 4. If North decides to cooperate, the main feature of his hand is the diamond void, not the club suit. Although South suspects that North is void, North doesn’t know South knows that, and should therefore cue-bid 6.

Should South leap to 7?
Perhaps South should wonder whether the other table will even reach slam after vigorous preemption. If they stay in game, six would be enough. On the other hand, South does have four “key cards” opposite a partner who has represented a huge hand. If South decides to go on, will 6 be enough?

7 wasn’t hopeless—it’s not as if they were off the ace of trumps or anything impossible like that. On a trump lead the chances of success are 11.6249% (send all complaints about our math to onlykidding@bridgewinners.com). The preempts were clearly effective, but were North-South left with enough room to apply the brakes?

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