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Rosenberg-Willenken

Rosey-Willenken This week we take a trip back to where it all began to once again pick on Michael Rosenberg , this time partnering Chris Willenken. Though the partnership is relatively new, they have already managed several promising results. This includes a run to the semifinals of last year’s Rosenblum, where their team lost by 4 IMPs to the NICKELL squad. Expect to see them in the winner’s circle frequently in the future. This week’s deal comes from the 2011 USBC round of 16.





Donn
10763
1084
K974
82
Rosenberg
J9542
K
A2
QJ765
Goren
8
J972
QJ108653
9
Willenken
AKQ
AQ653
AK1043
W
N
E
S
 
2
P
2
4
P
P
5
P
5N
P
6
P
7
7
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
103
7X East
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
3
2
8
3
1
0
Q
6
9
8
2
1
1
Q
3
7
A
1
2
1
K
2
3
4
1
3
1
J
9
K
2
3
4
1
Q
7 tricks claimed
E/W -1700
6



Two Diamonds
North’s hand will likely drive to slam opposite a 2 opener, but there is no response that offers an accurate description of his holding. For many partnerships 2 promises at least a couple top honors while 2 is semi-automatic and is only bypassed for exceptional reasons. This hand lacks a good reason, so 2 fits the bill.

Pass of Four Diamonds
There are several ways to deal with high-level interference after a strong, artificial opening bid. One popular treatment is known as 'Pass Double Inversion (PXI).' Playing this convention:

  • Double would show a flexible hand, close to a 3-suited takeout;
  • Bidding directly would show a single-suiter;
  • Pass would force a double from partner (unless they wouldn’t sit for a penalty double), which could be converted for penalty or removed to show two places to play.

As usual, super-science isn’t critical to get good results, but some agreement is. Rosenberg-Willenken employ penalty doubles over 4 so Willenken passed to convey a hand with no clear direction.



Five Diamonds
If North’s hand was excellent opposite a 2 opener it’s now gone off the charts. North-South are guaranteed to have at least one fit in one of the black suits and likely both. The A is a monster once West doesn’t extend the preempt and the K is huge as well. North certainly can’t risk the partnership stopping short of slam. While 5 makes those aspirations clear to South, it is a rather nebulous bid. Is it 100% slam forcing? Does it promise a diamond control? We think the answer to these questions is yes but concede that space is short and, since you can’t have everything, not every partnership would agree. But does 5 indicate a flexible hand? What would other calls show?

Five No Trump
5NT pick-a-slam is a convention used when a partnership doesn’t have a firmly-established trump suit. Since North-South haven’t even mentioned a suit below the 6-level that was the meaning assigned in this situation. But is it the correct bid? 5 should be defined as forcing after the 5 bid, but it may not be worth the risk if partner isn’t on the same page. Willenken’s intention was to bid 5NT and raise partner’s suit to grand -- a reasonable plan.

Six Clubs
The double fit has most likely been established at this point. But North probably has already described his hand reasonably well with the 5 bid. 6 seems indicated.

Seven Clubs
Following through with the 5NT plan. Not an easy bid, but it certainly seems percentage.

Pass of Seven Diamonds
North can pass 7 to show the ace and invite partner to bid grand in a higher strain, but should that decision even be left to South? Are there any hands that would raise 6 to 7 that wouldn’t make 7 or 7NT virtually laydown? If North could hold a better hand in light of his 5 bid, perhaps pass is more than enough.

Double of 7 Diamonds
South can almost certainly count 12 tricks in no-trump (3, 3, 1, 5). West didn’t bid 7 with a club trick, so the suit can be expected to run. At the prevailing vulnerability North almost certainly has fewer than three diamonds so if North holds the J he’ll likely have enough length in the suit to score it. West also wouldn’t have saved holding the K so even if North doesn’t hold that card the finesse rates to win. On top of all of that, there may be squeeze possibilities. However, 7 ain’t makin'. And the other table may not even be in grand. If that’s the case, defending could be a sure pickup whereas bidding on could be a potential disaster.

This hand constitutes one of the least-disastrous‘disasters’ ever featured in UFR. But the issues faced are interesting nonetheless. Also, for once we have a hand where grand should have been bid rather than the other way around. Although Rosenberg-Willenken collected a sizable penalty, they had ample opportunity to reach 7NT with 13 top tricks. How might they have done better?

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

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