After an unexpectedly long week, I must get back to work, so for the moment I’ll just finish the story of that highly successful “save” against 3nt from two posts ago. Note: We actually played more than any other team, since all the other semifinalists had QF byes.
Anyway this hand was from the penultimate match in the first round-robin. (Board 65 at http://usbf.org/docs/vugraphs/USBC2010/RR64-72.PDF.) At this point we were above water but certainly not a lock to qualify. Looking back at the hand records, I see I was 2nd seat not 3rd. I held AJ7 J3 KQJ98 J93 white/white and heard the auction I mentioned:
Now here are the opponents in 3nt, and I know they have less than half the hcp. It has to be a bit tempting to double, but let’s give them some credit. They almost certainly have at least the two red aces and six club tricks for down 1…this was my first estimate. As I thought longer, I decided lefty almost had to have 7 clubs for both of them to have reasonable bids. Clubs were likely to be 7-3-2-1 around the table, and partner to have a light distributional 2H bid. So I wasn’t doubling…should I save? It’s certainly odd to save over 3nt with a balanced shape and no established fit, but partner must be distributional, so we shouldn’t be down very many with my having no wastage opposite his hope-for stiff club, and we might just make something. I decided to take a shot. I didn’t know if we should be in hearts or diamonds so I bid 4C, the famous pick-a-save cuebid. Partner chose hearts with K9x KQT98x xxx x and was able to wrap up 590 despite a 5-0 trump break when they could only tap him once – as Franco noted, both 3nt and 4H require clubs 7-2 to make. (Also, his S9 was good enough to freeze that suit from attack.) That was a 21-imp improvement on -400 since our teammates sold to 3D, -110. We seemed to gain momentum after this hand and blitzed this match to virtually clinch survival of the first cut.