Litvack: Roy and I reached the same contract through a delicate cue-bidding auction. I was surprised to see that we won a sizable number of IMPs on what seemed like a flat board.
Hampson: I have never been dealt a 10 card suit except in your Ghoulie games. Fred tells me that the odds of being dealt a ten card suit are more than 60000 to 1. If this was the only unusual hand, I might have dismissed this occurrence as a coincidence. I guess you didn't notice but there were also a large number of 8 card suits being dealt. Fred's computer says that the odds of being dealt an 8 card suit are about 200 to 1. In the 116 hands that we played, Fred and I were dealt 5 eight card suits. In three cases the suit was a club suit that was either completely or almost completely solid.
Litvack: How many 9 cards suits were you dealt?
Hampson: None, and I think you are avoiding the issue. I thought that this hand was an interesting bidding problem:
Nobody was vulnerable and your LHO opens 1. Partner bids 2, Michaels, and RHO leaps to 5. What do you bid?
Litvack: I think 8 card suits are made to be trump. I would bid 6.
Hampson: Suppose you pass and your partner re-opens with 5, presumably showing a huge hand with longer hearts than spades. What now?
Litvack: How can I not bid a slam?
Hampson: Well your partner didn't promise a diamond void but you certainly have a very good hand considering your partner bid all the way to the 5 level himself. Suppose you bid 6. It goes Pass, Pass, Double.
LHO leads a club (the double was Lightner) and dummy tables:
Yes, 7 is laydown but you must make 6. RHO ruffs the club and returns a diamond, putting you in dummy. To make the hand you have to cash the A and ruff a heart and then lead and pass the J. RHO started with 2380 distribution (yes another 8 card suit) with the doubleton 10. Fred bid only 5 over 5 so he wasn't put to the test in slam. The way things were going for us, I doubt he would have gotten it right.
Speaking of 6-5 hands, the odds of being dealt one are about 75 to 1. Fred and I held no less than 12 6-5 hands in the 116 boards that we played. Rather against the odds wouldn't you say?
Litvack (trying to avoid the question): I heard that you bid and made 7 on one of the other 6-5 hands.
Hampson: Fred actually did well on that hand:
Fred played 7 from the short side after a weak no trump opening and a transfer auction. A spade was led to the A and Fred cashed two rounds of trump. RHO began with 3 trumps and Fred was at the crossroads. He could either draw the last trump and rely on the club finesse or try to ruff out the Q. What would you do?
Litvack: I would think about it for a long time.
Hampson: That goes without saying. Fred thought about it for a long time as well. Eventually he opted to finesse in clubs. This was necessary as LHO had 4 clubs to the queen. Computer analysis later suggested that Fred's line was superior by about 6%.
Litvack (still trying to avoid the issue): What happened to you with:
Fred held that hand. He opened 1 as is his style. Meckstroth thought it was right to open 2, but Hamman also opened 1. It went 1 Pass Pass back to him. Having never had this sort of problem before, Fred made up what he thought was a simple solution - bid what you think you can make. He bid 4 trying to convey the message that he could make either 4 or 5 in his own hand. I did not quite get the message as I passed with:
6 requires only a 3-2 club break and 6 is even better. In 6 you can sometimes succeed when clubs are 4-1 by drawing 2 rounds of trump and starting clubs. If the player with a singleton club has only two hearts, you can score a club ruff in the dummy. Fortunately for us, LHO had a singleton club and 3 hearts so slam had no play. Hamman suggested that you should re-open by cue- bidding 2 and then bid 4 at your next opportunity.
Litvack: One of our better results happened on a 6-5 hand:
South opened 2 on his 6-5 showing clubs and a major. Roy overcalled 2 and North cue-bid 3. South, with several spade stoppers, bid 3NT. Roy led the A and we took the first 6 tricks. North/South are cold for 6, of course.
Hampson: Of course. Unfortunately we got to 7. Fred opened 1 as South and Gord Chapman, West, overcalled 2. I was North and made a negative double. John Sabino, East, now made the excellent bid of 5. Fred bid 6 and I raised him to 7.
Litvack: You didn't give him much slack.
Hampson: True, but we were out of the event by this point. The one and only way we could make any money from the event would be to win a session award. This was one of the first boards of the last session and I judged that although bidding seven might be a bit of a stretch, we really needed to create some action if we were to win the session.
Fred ruffed the opening heart lead (first hurdle) and thought for some time. He didn't look very happy. Eventually he played a diamond to the jack, which held. At this point Fred sat up in his chair. This was just the kind of break we needed and it seemed like he thought he was making the hand. Unfortunately, the 5-1 spade break and 4-2 diamond break combined to make the hand unmanageable. 7 had to go one down. At least we won some IMPs due to the result at your table.
Litvack: That's a very sad story. I hope you can find a better partner for next year's event.
Hampson: That shouldn't be too difficult. I hope you can find a more normal set of hand records.
Litvack: I'll see what I can do.
These conversations never actually happened. The odds that I quoted are real and the above deals (plus many more unusual ones) were played in this year's Canadian Invitational Pairs. I strongly believe that computer generated hands conform to the expected statistical distribution. The events that I have described are either a statistical anomaly or the result of a programming error. I am not complaining. I thoroughly enjoyed the deals in the event. Thanks to Irving Litvack for putting together an excellent tournament, to Geoff Hampson for being a patient partner (most of the time), and to John Gowdy for being John Gowdy.
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