30 November 2010

The strong club universe

Strong clubs are something that is new to me. Up until a couple of months ago I had never tried playing one and wasn't really convinced I wanted to. Lately I've had a couple of chances and it's been a learning experience. Symmetric relay is nice for uncontested auctions but lets face it, people love interfering with strong clubs.

Here are two hands that came up yesterday that presented me with problems at the table. If there are any strong club players out there who could give me some pointers or reassure me that this is normal I'd be grateful. On the first one all were vul and I held the West hand:

K J 9 5
Q J 7 6 5 3 
 ♠ Q J 9 6
 ♥ T 8 2
 ♦ T 8 4
 ♣ K T 9

I opened our 15+ club and the next hand bid 2 (weakish showing hearts), my partner doubled showing 6 - 9 highs and for lack of anything else to do I bid 3. Partner passed and 3 played very well but how did my partner know I didn't have 19? How did I know my partner didn't have 9?

On the next hand I'm still West but this time we're at unfavourable:

Q J 8 7 4 
Q J 5 3
J 9 6 3
 ♠ A K 9
 ♥ A 6 2
 ♦ 9 8 2
 ♣ A K 8 4

My partner opened the strong club this time and after 1 I doubled to show the same 6 - 9 I mentioned earlier. 3 by my LHO got passed back to me and I made a takeout double which was passed out. Sadly there's only 3 spades, 2 hearts and 2 clubs for the defense (+500) whereas 4S (+620) makes on a lot of layouts. Not a disaster playing Imps but we weren't.

It wasn't all bad though, on this hand some Easts got a bid overboard:

T 9 6
A J 4 3 
K 7 6
K 5 2
 ♠ A J 8 4 2
 ♥ 6 2
 ♦ A Q 8 5 3
 ♣ A

I guess all the aces and shape dazzled them so much that when the auction went 1 - 3 many couldn't help drive to 5 or 6 spades. 11 tricks are available double dummy but only 10 are there for humans. By relaying my partner found the unattractive 3433 shape and signed off nice and low.


  1. On the 1st hand, I'm not sure how this is tougher than natural methods. After a natural 1C-(2H) east has to pass and then west has a tough decision and might pass. Unless North wouldn't bid 2H against a natural 1C opening (would need to know the hand).
    I don't play a strong club, but I think for #2 you probably need a way to show hands that have more than 4-4 in the majors right away.

  2. Hand 1: if you had 19 HCP you'd have a comfortable 3H cue over P's X since you're happy to GF opposite 6-9. 3C shows 15-bad 18 with Clubs, exactly what you've got.

    Hand 2: this is the one that's analogous to a natural auction IMO. 1C-3D- will presumably be bid at every table. West will (I guess) X for lack of better option, and if East was going to pass in the Strong Club auction, they'll presumably do the same in the natural auction?