Good partners strive to create auctions that are natural and familiar, but even the best partners will sometimes test you with a “bid out of nowhere” (BOON) – an unexpected call that’s inconsistent with the earlier auction.
Last month, we discussed bids that sound implausible, but are actually defined by your bidding system. Other BOONs may be products of partner’s imagination, invented to alert you to something unusual about his hand. What’s he trying to show in these auctions?
1H 1NT (forcing)
This is the Impossible 2S, so named because partner cannot hold a spade suit. What you do know is that he must have a good hand to force the auction to 2NT or higher. His choice of an artificial bid also suggests there’s no natural rebid that accurately describes his values.
Partner’s problem hand is ♠872 ♥64 ♦AKJ3 ♣QJ85. He doesn’t have enough clubs for a raise (your 2C rebid could be just three cards), and 2NT is uncomfortable without a spade stopper. The solution is the otherwise idle bid of 2S.
There are other meanings you can assign to this auction, but the most popular agreement is that 2S is a game invite with four or more clubs. Some pairs specify that it also denies spade stoppers. A direct raise to 3C is constructive, promising longer clubs and fewer high-card points – a hand such as ♠872 ♥4 ♦AJ73 ♣KJ862.
The same principle applies here. Partner, who has already denied a major, can’t be looking for a heart fit. Instead, he’s saying that your second bid improved his hand, so much so that a raise to 3C wouldn’t do it justice. His 2H shows a maximum, excellent club support and values in the bid suit. A possible hand is ♠874 ♥KJ8 ♦A5 ♣J10973.
One difference from the Impossible 2S is that partner responded a standard (non-forcing) 1NT, which limits his hand to 10 points. Another is that he has two “impossible majors” available, so he can choose the one where he has high-card strength (stoppers for notrump).
This is a more emphatic version of the same message, even though partner’s “impossible” major is a suit he’s already bid naturally. His 1NT rebid denied the length and strength for a 2H rebid, so he can hardly be suggesting hearts as trumps now, especially after you’ve advertised a void.
As with other BOONs, partner’s sudden enthusiasm was sparked by your last bid. He must have a big club fit and a maximum, but for his 9-10 points to be powerful enough to force to the 4-level, all of his high-card values should be in your suits. He may hold ♠A8 ♥10754 ♦K3 ♣Q9864.
This BOON is a “Bluhmer”, named for its inventor, the late Lou Bluhm. It’s a jump that has no other systemic meaning (splinter, ace-ask) and, based on the previous auction, cannot be intended as natural. It promises maximum high-card strength, controls and trump support and, most important, no wasted honors in the bid suit.
A Bluhmer doesn’t require known shortness in partner’s hand. It can be a “just in case” bid, as here:
This fits the description of a Bluhmer auction,
and if partner has used the bid wisely, you have a near-perfect picture of his
hand. His newfound strength is based on a spade fit, so he must be 4-4 in the
majors with no diamond honors. A possible hand:
♠AQ76 ♥A1084 ♦963 ♣A3.
If you have a singleton diamond, partner’s Bluhmer may help you find a short-point slam. With two losing diamonds, you’ll know not to venture past game.
In each of these auctions, partner’s happy problem was a fitting hand that had become too strong for a standard rebid. Even if you haven’t discussed these situations in advance, partner may be counting on your bridge logic to lead you to the right answer. If a new partner tries one of these bids with you, take it as a compliment.
© 2009 Karen Walker