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Greco-Hampson

gh Eric Greco and Geoff Hampson have earned their reputation as one of the world's top partnerships. Together with the Diamond team they’ve enjoyed a string of recent successes, culminating with their victory in the 2010 Rosenblum Cup. This week’s article branches out from the usual bidding disasters to cover a defensive problem this pair faced in the same segment of the 2010 US Team Trials that brought us two previous hands.






Martel
K764
K3
AJ4
8643
Greco
AQ8
62
9876
Q1097
Stansby
953
AQ1098754
32
Hampson
J102
J
KQ105
AKJ52
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
2NT
P
3
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
47
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
3
Q
4
2
0
1
3
Q
4
9
3
1
1
K
4
7
5
2
1
2
2
5
J
6
0
1
3
3
2
A
J
2
1
4
7
2
K
6
0
1
5
A
7
10 tricks claimed
E/W +420
7


Even though this article focuses on partnership defense, let’s address the auction first.

How should the South hand be treated?

Greco-Hampson utilize their own souped-up Precision system. They play a 14-16 notrump, which Hampson chose to employ when he deemed his hand too strong for a simple 1 opening but not strong enough for 1. Modern bridge players are certainly aware that a 1NT opener may sometimes contain a singleton, but this approach is generally reserved for hands that would face problematic rebids. The quintessential example is some 1=4=5=3 hand with a stiff spade honor that is too weak to reverse but too awkward to bid after 1-1. While a simple 1 would be elected by most Precisionites on the actual hand, 1NT has some redeeming qualities.

Is there a "standard” meaning for South’s 2NT rebid?

This particular notrump bid is highly unusual, to say the least. Whether or not a partnership would agree on a prototype hand for the auction is another matter entirely. Max-value hands with a reliable source of tricks are often upgraded so shouldn’t be considered. Much more likely is Hampson’s interpretation: a good offensive hand with nine cards in the minors.

Now, on to the play of the hand. Greco-Hampson use upside-down carding (low-high shows even count or an encouraging attitude signal). South led the A, North following with the queen.

What message should the Q convey?

South is known to have four or five clubs. Therefore, South either has the jack or is about to see it, and will be able to infer that North is “screaming” for a spade shift.

At trick two declarer led the 3. South split with the Q, declarer ducked, and North followed with the 9. Their defensive agreements call for a count signal on declarer’s lead of a suit.

How should the 9 be interpreted?

The overriding issue on this hand is whether or not a player may give suit-preference in irrelevant suits. When should a suit be considered irrelevant? In this case the diamond count appears to be unnecessary, but alas it was. Hampson, who by partnership agreement believed declarer held three diamonds, didn’t see a pressing need to switch to spades and the contract came home.

A spade shift appears obvious. But if we “know” declarer has three diamonds, playing another club can’t hurt. Yet, partner’s Q, in conjunction with the bidding, means a spade shift would virtually never cost. If Yogi Berra played bridge he might have said, “If you try to make an easy hand easier you sometimes make it hard.”

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

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