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JoBoo on Bridge: Grue Bids
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If y’all remember how I like to do things, well here it is. I write pretty much exactly how I feel. By the time you guys get to read this, it will have passed through a few people to make sure that there’s proper English and grammar. Not to mention I don’t have much of a censor on my mouth, so you guys get the edited version (although, for a price, I can hook you up with the originals!).

The last time I published an article on Bridge Winners, I had finished 2nd in the Vanderbilt. A lot has happened since then. For starters, I won the USA team trials with Justin Lall, affectionately known as jlall. We took that victory to the Bermuda Bowl where we finished 2nd after beating the FLEISHER squad (Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein, Marty Fleisher, Mike Kamil, Lew Stansby, Chip Martel) in the semis.

People ask me a lot if I am going to start playing with Justin. The answer is the same it always has been: NO. I love partnering Curtis (Cheek). In fact, Curtis and I just won the Vanderbilt a few weeks ago, which I must admit felt great after coming so close the year before.

Anyway my plan is, in these articles, I will share an interesting bridge hand from top-level play that hopefully has an entertaining story to go along with it! Or (my lawyers have advised me against doing this) I will divulge a couple of bids that I have invented, my pet bids! Although before you get any ideas about me, I would say that in my partnership with Curtis, Curtis is definitely the “mad scientist”. I mean, literally, he was a rocket scientist before becoming a bridge pro, not to mention he is one of the great theorists and “system guys" out there. Curtis, Rodwell, Hampson, and Levin/Weinstein are at the absolute top of my list when it comes to inventing conventions that are useful in practice.

Now here’s a bid that I humbly suggest any serious pair should add to their arsenal of weapons immediately! Say the opponents have bid spades, partner overcalls hearts, and your only cue-bid is 3. For example, LHO opens 2, partner overcalls 3, and RHO passes. You are sitting there with a solid opening bid with heart support. You bid 3 just praying that your partner bids exactly 3NT so you can bid over it, showing a hand that was coming in hearts. Most of the time it seems like partner screws you with a rebid of 4 and you are stuck passing, having never gotten to let partner know that you have good support for him and a full opening bid. What I suggest is to bid 4, artificial, showing a heart fit and a good hand. Meanwhile, a 3 call is either the normal stopper-ask without a heart fit, trying to play 3NT; or it’s a natural 4 call (needed because 4 is now used as a cue-bid for hearts). The one thing 3 isn’t is a good hand with heart support. In fact, why don’t we call 3 a Grue bid: a cue-bid that denies good support.

Grue bids can be applied whenever you find yourself with an ambiguous 3 call, for example:

(2)-3-(P)- ?
1x-(2)-3-(P)- ?
(2)-Dbl-(P)-3-(P)- ?

You may find a few more auctions like these to use them but I think you get the main idea. Here’s an example of Grue bids in action on the next page:

 

North
8
K975
A876
AQ109
South
A432
AJ10832
9
K8

We were dealt these hands in a team game at a regional last year.  Our auction, playing Grue bids:

W
N
E
S
1
2
3
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
7
P
P
P

Curtis didn't ask for the heart queen because he figured I rated to have the 4th trump or the queen, and if I didn't, they may lead trumps since we showed the queen in the auction.  And even if they didn't lead trumps, he would most likely play the opening leader to have the queen.  

Other room bid:

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

As you can see opener had to bid 3 and pray his partner didn't get in his way, but his prayers were not answered.  Maybe opener could take a flyer and continue with Keycard Blackwood over 4 but then on some days, partner could have no play for 5.  Anyway, the point is, with Grue bids, we were able to bid a good grand on a hand the other table stopped in game, winning 14 IMPs.

Now before you run off and start playing them, my general thinking is that playing too many conventions is bad. Curtis and I are way more likely when going to a big tournament to take a convention off of our card then we are to add something that might get forgotten. So fair warning: it’s not worth it to play this or any other convention if you think there’s even the slightest chance of messing it up!

More next week!

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