Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Dawn surprise

Chrissie is (fast) learning to bid Chilli, and a morning treat is to deal a hand and bid it while drinking our first mugs of tea in bed, true to the ethos of Chilli Towers. We take two adjacent hands each, and both 'partnerships' play Chilli. After the first shot at a sequence, we'll look a the final contract, analyse how the play might go and consider if we could do better with the bidding.

As anyone who has taught using random hands can testify, you will constantly be ambushed by problems that stretch teacher, let alone pupil. I am not sure if it is a methodology I can recommend, but it has certainly has some interesting effects.

First, right from the beginning Chrissie has been exposed to, and so taken on, the principles of modern destructive bidding. Now she gets pleasure from making space-destroying weak bids that seriously inconvenience her other ego's (or my) next call.

And second, the method reveals the true nature of the game – one of probabilities. When we bid to game, look at the two hands, agree that our bidding is fine, then see from the full layout that the contract will fail on sensible defence, Chrissie is quite at home with this being normal; no-one has done anything wrong.

Every so often an extraordinary hand turns up that has an influence on the rest of our day and beyond, and one arrived this morning. While the majority of randomly dealt hands are not good material for a bidding book – at best uninteresting, or messy and unclear, at worst showing up some system imperfection – this one is high class copy, demonstrating many of the subtleties of Chilli including the newcomer, the Attitude Ask (What's your problem?).

West East
♠6 1♣1 1♠2 ♠AQ843
A972 1NT3 24 J
K65 3♣5 36 AQJ3
♣AKQ104 3NT7 4♣8 ♠J93
49 4♠10
511 7♣12
1 Artificial, strong, 25+ playing points (p15). This is literally only 25 playing points and so, with no long major, could be eligible for an opening 1, but we'll upgrade a point or two for that magnificent club suit.
2 At least four points, at least four spades, fewer than four hearts, forcing. Restrain the desire to show strength first – if you skip past 1♠, partner will never believe you have a spade suit, however many times you bid them later on.
3 A typical limited non-forcing rebid on a minimum 1♣ opener with no immediate major suit fit and no six-card suit.
4 Artificial, compelling to 3NT. Now we start showing some strength.
5 Natural, denying anything more to say in the majors and promising either a skew or a strong hand (otherwise 2NT). Having already limited with 1NT, here it must be skew – a hand with a singleton or void.
6 Natural.
7 To play, so promising something in the unshown suit, hearts.
8 East can now take stock of what is known about partner's hand. 1NT denied a six-card suit, and 3♣ denied more than two spades or more than four hearts, but promised a shortage somewhere. And partner would have raised diamonds with four of them, so 3NT denied that. Put this altogether and East can infer that West has exactly 1435. This makes 6♣ look attractive, and maybe there is more, so let's find out with this unlimited delayed suit agreement of a minor ... an Attitude Ask!
9 For the bidding to date, West could not be happier about partner's support with this highly suit-suitable hand, so shows (nought or) three keycards.
10 Interesting! All the keycards, so what about the trump queen?
11 I have it, plus the king of diamonds.
12 East can now count 11 top tricks, and expect two heart ruffs even on a trump lead. What about 7NT? West would need the spade king for that, and that would make West's hand too strong for 1NT (although if you like taking bidding cards out of the box, you could have pointlessly asked with 5♠).

Not bad for a dawn surprise!

Best wishes

The Chilli bidding system is described and defined in the book What Can Possibly Go Wrong? and summarised on the Chilli bidding website.

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