Playing matchpoints in a field where everyone is supposed to have 1000 or more masterpoints, things are going badly and I am annoyed. I deal myself
 S:KJ10 H:KJ1084 D:K32 C:63
In the methods we are playing, this is really a pass, but I am tired of having no part in our destiny, so I open 1H:. Partner bids 2S:, entirely artificial, asking me (normally) to bid 2NT, which I do. He rebids 4C:, showing 16-18 support points, a singleton or void club, four hearts, and a decent spade suit, though not necessarily a long one. What now?

My choices are to sign off in 4H:, cue-bid either the D:K or the spade fillers, bid Blackwood, or leap to slam. Which is best?

My first thought is that I have just opened a flat aceless 11-count, so I should not be making any slam noises, but on reflection, that is a short-sighted judgement. Usually, by this time in the auction, a normal opening bid is down to about eight to ten working points, but my eleven are all gold. I think signing off is out of the question; partner will pass when slam is cold. I should at least make some sort of slam try.

What are some hands that partner could have?

  1.  S:AQxxx H:AQxx D:Qxx C:x
  2.  S:AQxx H:Axxxx D:Axx C:x
  3.  S:AQxxx H:Qxxx D:Axxx C:---
  4.  S:AQxxx H:Axxx D:QJx C:x
  5.  S:AQxxx H:Qxxx D:AQx C:x
These all seem reasonable; he almost has to have the S:AQ to have a decent suit. He should have a heart honor or two, and is very likely to have a card in diamonds, either the Ace or the Queen. The first point that comes to mind is that 5H: is probably pretty safe; only hand 4 has much chance of going down, and I can still find the H:Q to make it. If he has hand 2 or 3, 6H: is making. Slam is definitely in the picture. Is there a sensible way to investigate slam?

Will cue-bidding help? I don't see how. It looks as if we shall make a slam unless we are off two aces or an ace and the trump queen and I don't find it.

What about Blackwood? If 4NT were Blackwood, then a 5S: response, showing two aces and the trump queen would get us too high. Fortunately, we have agreed that 4S: is Blackwood here, and 4NT is a spade cue-bid, so Blackwood is safe to use.

Finally, I decide to bid Blackwood. Partner shows three aces with a 4NT bid. (He cannot have zero aces.) I ask about the trump queen with 5C:, and he bids 5NT, showing the trump queen, but no side kings (and presumably no club void.) Twelve tricks should be cold, and they are when dummy tables hand 2. Note that partner showed the H:Q, even though he did not possess it because he has a fifth trump. With a ten-card fit, the trump queen should be unnecessary.

I am no longer annoyed.

Copyright © 1993 Jeff Goldsmith