Sometimes the cards are just in an excitable mood and last Thursday, in my Super-Advanced class, one student had two chances to shine and, I'm pleased to say, she did!
First up, this hand - an unremarkable 17 count. However, partner opened 1H, our heroine correctly responded a quiet 2D and partner re-bid 3NT. This is probably Acol's most inaccurate auction, since partner can hold 17-20pts, or a hand with a long suit where he thinks nine tricks can be made. What is the correct bid to make next?
In the view of my student - and me - the next bid should be 5NT. This is a "Mega" Quantitative Raise, saying: bid 6NT anyway, but bid 7NT if you are maximum. This sounds right - if partner has 17/18pts, the partnership hold 34/35pts (fine for the small slam); if partner has 19/20pts, the partnership have 36/37pts. Opener did have 19pts, bid 7NT, and made it without so much as a bead of sweat.
On the next deal - with a different pack of cards - our heroine picked up:
When her right hand opponent passed, she opened 1C, LHO overcalled 3S, partner doubled (showing 10pts or more) and RHO raised to 4S. Now, she could bid 5H and was raised to 6H by partner, and that made too. Partner holding:
Of course, partner's diamond ace and spade queen are both completely useless, but the heart ace and even the club ten are both beautiful. That opener could rebid a new suit at the 5-level convinced her partner that she was 6-5 or 7-5 (it's hard to imagine a 7-6 distribution) and therefore to value up what he had.
The key on this 7-6 hand, I think, is to bid naturally. Zia Mahmood told me (many, many years ago) that the more unbalanced your hand, the more naturally you should bid it. By opening at the 1-level, whatever your opponents bid subsequently, you will always be able to show your second suit, even at a high level, and your partner will understand that you are very distributional. If you open with an artificial bid, you may never get the chance to show both your suits at acceptable levels.
Next, the more distributional you are, the less likely it is that a 1-level opener will ever get passed out.
Finally, there is the added chance that you will get doubled in a 3 or 4 contract and make it with overtrick(s) - but that kind of thing only seems to happen to Zia.