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Grand Theft Larceny
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Bridge opponents are out stealing. All the time. It is your job to try to stop it, if you can. I'll start with the legal definition of Grand Theft Larceny quoting from Google:

A category of larceny—the offense of illegally taking the property of another—in which the value of the property taken is greater than that set for petit larceny. At Common Law, the punishment for grand larceny was death. Today, grand larceny is a statutory crime punished by a fine, imprisonment, or both.

The only difference, in the bridge world, it is totally legal! In our Swiss match on Sunday (8 boards), we were fortunate enough to be slightly ahead if we only counted 7 boards. We lost the match on this board. Receiving paltry compensation of 50 points for defeating an undoubled 4 contract when "proper" compensation was 2140 for a cold (barring the ruff of an opening lead) vulnerable grand slam. I think this differential certainly exceeds the threshold of petit larceny!

West
765
J8
AKJ103
AJ10
North
K10832
KQ109
976
8
East
A643
Q85
KQ9632
South
AQJ94
752
42
754
W
N
E
S
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Result -1, +50 for EW

Can the grand (7) be bid? In this auction, if West passes (which seems reasonable), I cannot imagine any opponents able to reach the grand slam, but see if you can do better? I posted a bidding poll related to this, and now I'm posting an article that provides the back story to the hand. I'm leaving out all of the names except for the successful perpetrators: South was Lew Stansby, North JoAnna Stansby.  Congratulations on a great theft!

Meanwhile, at the other table...

West
765
J8
AKJ103
AJ10
North
K10832
KQ109
976
8
East
A643
Q85
KQ9632
South
AQJ94
752
42
754
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
2
2NT
3
P
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Result +6, +620 for EW, lose 11 IMPs.  

The club slam only provides 12 tricks because the spade ruff comes from the long trumps.  But diamonds provides 13 tricks with the spade ruff coming from the short side.  

I know many/most top players have been opening weak twos on 5-card suits for many years.  I've certainly done that in third seat, but have not advanced to the point of doing that in first seat.  This has been a lesson hand for me, but I think I still have more to learn about what hands qualify, what vulnerability is appropriate, and how does partner field the bid (I routinely raise partner with 3-card support - do I continue to do that even though they may only hold 5?).  If anyone knows a good article on the subject of weak twos on a 5-card suit, I would welcome the information.  I found this hand particularly remarkable because of South's lack of shape and spot cards.  Likewise, East also has very weak spot cards as well as weak HCP, but if West doesn't act over the opening 2 bid, East is the one that has to act over the 4 bid (the hand that is short is almost always the hand that has to act).

Perhaps, with hindsight, many will conclude that West should have bid 3 over the 2 opener.  Possible, but I think this hand holds less than most textbook actions over a weak two.  If the red suits were reversed, many/most would enter with 3, but diamonds are so ... lowly.  If West does act, the chance of at least a small slam being reached becomes real, and the grand does enter the picture.  One sample hand doesn't prove a 'rule' but maybe there are three lessons on this hand?

  1. Open weak twos with 5-card suits (with an understanding of appropriate followup actions)
  2. Get in early with a respectable suit (enter the auction with West's hand)
  3. With suitable shape, intervene even if the high card points are not there (double with East's hand)

 

After every bridge session, I review the hands to see what I can learn.  There are probably many other points on this hand that I haven't covered.  When partner showed 'Majors' should South preempt higher at their first opportunity?  Against 5, even 6 is a profitable sacrifice, although it only saves 1 IMP vs. the result at the other table.  But, sometimes disclosing the super fit can allow the opponents to better assess their potential and propel them higher than they were going to go on their own.  Bridge is a great game, with problems to solve on every hand.

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