On the Way
Playing in the North American Open Pairs with a competent
partner against decent opposition, I deal myself vulnerable
against not this promising collection:
AKQ864 1083 --- K1042
We are playing five-card majors and Two-over-One game force.
This rates to be a good hand for our system, so I am feeling
encouraged when I open 1. LHO passes and partner bids
2, game forcing, which I like a lot. I am about to
make a splinter jump when I hear an overcall of 2NT, showing
length in the red suits. Not to be deterred, I choose to
jump to 4, showing my club support and diamond
shortness. LHO can get in this and does by raising my diamonds
to five. Partner thinks about this a bit, but comes up with
the bid I want to hear: 5. Good partner!
I am about to bid the Grand Slam Force because 7 will be
cold opposite as little as xx Axx xxx AQJxx and partner must have
more than that for his game force. On my way to seven, however,
RHO bids 6, making me guess about partner's club holding.
I think it is really no guess; partner made a grand slam try when
he bid 5, since we were by then committed to 6, so he
must have the top clubs. I bid 7, hoping strenuously that
the opponents do not sacrifice.
7 is passed around to RHO who gives this quite a bit of
thought, as well he might, and finally decides to trust us and
saves in 7. How unfortunate. Before I double this,
I give some thought
to 7. 13 tricks are obvious at clubs, but I only see
six spades, one heart, and five clubs at spades. If partner holds
the K or a sixth club and Jx or three little spades, we can make
7, too, which has to be better than defending diamonds.
How can I tell if he has this stuff? I am pretty confident about
the 13th winner, but I cannot tell if spades are good enough to
play at the seven-level; certainly partner could have a singleton,
in which case 7 is a very bad bet. How can I tell? I
cannot, but fortunately, partner is still in the game. I choose
to pass, which is clearly forcing, and must suggest some higher
contract. 7NT seems very unlikely given that I am probably void in
diamonds, so the contract I must be considering is 7.
7 goes around to partner who considers for a little while
and finally doubles. This gets passed out and we collect 500,
less than our game, so we are happy to find that we get an average
score when several pairs are allowed to play diamonds at a lower
The final forcing pass was an unusual one in that normally, forcing
passes at the seven level are intended to suggest bidding a grand
after they have saved against our small slam. This one was suggesting
a conversion to a higher-ranking suit, which had never occurred to me
Partner held 10x AJx Qxx AQJxx. He certainly had his
bidding shoes on, but 7 is an excellent contract, and today
had the benefit of being cold. His decision to double rather than
bid 7 was a good one because he had no extra winner and
no real help in spades. Thank you, partner.
Copyright © 1993 Jeff Goldsmith