Bad Bidding

Sometimes bad bidding is its own reward; sometimes you have to work for it.

In the last match of a sectional Swiss, a blitz might get us into the overalls. Not a successful day.

Early in the match, I pick up

 S:A862 H:AJ109863 D:C:J3
Vulnerable against not, partner opens a 15-17 notrump in first chair. First order of business: hearts are trump. If I need to ruff them good, I don't think my hand will provide enough entries to make a high-level spade contract superior. Second order of business: how to investigate slam. I think I'll try transfering to hearts and self-splintering in diamonds. If partner doesn't cooperate, we'll stop in game. I've been thinking about this for awhile, and RHO has already passed. I bid 2D:, starting my plan. LHO doubles this and two passes come around to me. That means partner has exactly two hearts (or stiff King, I suppose) but not length and strength in diamonds. I'll guess that LHO has the minor diamond honors, so unless partner has a total dog, I should have play for 6H:. Rather than draw a roadmap of my hand, I'll just bid it.

The opening lead is the S:J and dummy is quite disappointing.

S: K1095
D: KJ2
C: K1098
S: A862
H: AJ109863
C: J3
All Pass
My bidding wasn't a thing of beauty, but that dummy was a terrible buy. The trumps are nice, but a minimum with four points wasted in diamonds is unlucky. I have play, so maybe 6H: wasn't as silly as it seems right now.

I don't think LHO is giving me the works in spades; his lead looks like a singleton. If so, I can pick up spades and all I need to do is guess clubs to make. Entries are a problem. It'd be nice if trumps were 2-2. I could then take the spade finesse and not have to guess clubs until trick 11. So I win in dummy and cash two trumps. On the second round of trumps, RHO shows out, so I overtake in hand and draw the last trump. RHO has echoed in clubs. That's dire. If she's telling the truth, I may not be able to guess clubs. Furthermore, if she has the C:A, I have no play. I need not only a trick from the clubs, but also an entry to dummy. LHO can foil that by ducking the C:J or covering the C:3 with the C:Q. He doesn't know that yet, however, so I think I'll put him to the test immediately.

On the lead of the C:3, LHO follows low, without apparent agony. If he had two aces, I think he'd've at least thought about doubling. And led a trump. And RHO might not have signalled as she did. And RHO might not have been so ready to give up two clubs with the queen rather than the ace. All my clues suggest inserting the C:10. I do, and it loses to the C:A. Now all that's left is to win a club and take a spade finesse. It works, so I score up +1430. Rough going, but I'm sure this will produce a healthy swing for us.

A few boards later I pick up in third hand

 S:QJ2 H:AKQ86 D:KJ75 C:A
A pretty good mittful and I get to open after two passes. 1H: seems obvious. LHO passes, and partner commits Drury, which RHO doubles. With this partner, I have no idea what my bids mean now; if RHO had passed, 2D: would have been artificial and more or less set up a game/slam try auction. After the double, for all I know, he might pass 2D:. Does 3D: show length or shortness? I don't know. No auction that starts with that much doubt is going to be any good, so I bid what I think I can make, 6H:.

The opening lead is the C:J and I see

S: A
H: 1074
D: AQ1062
C: 10876
S: QJ2
H: AKQ86
D: KJ75
C: A
All Pass
Oh, well. Looks like 7D: is cold and 7H: is vey good. I have no idea how to bid either of them in this partnership, so that's nothing to worry about. If the opponents get there at the other table, kudos to them. In the meantime, how do I play 6H:? It's not cold. If trumps break, I have 13 easy tricks with a spade ruff. If trumps are 5-0, I am probably cooked, so what about a 4-1 break? If I duck a trump early, a club continuation by RHO could prove awkward. Trying to ruff two spades in dummy risks 7-1 clubs and 0-4 diamonds. (I know they are not 4-0; RHO would have doubled 6H: if so.) I don't think diamonds are zip-splitting, but 7-1 clubs is a real possibility. RHO's preempts are pretty solid, so she might have passed with KQ-seventh. Or she might be 4-1-1-7 and not want to preempt with S:Kxxx. I don't think there's a perfect solution, so I shall take the line I like best. I win the first trick perforce, cross to the S:A, and play a heart off dummy. RHO plays a small one, so I cover it gently. LHO is quite suprised to win this trick with the H:9 and doesn't know what to continue. Eventually he settles on a club. (Rats. They were 6-2.) I ruff, ruff a spade, draw trumps and claim. Trumps were 4-1, so the overtrick wasn't available, but with diamonds 2-2 and clubs 2-6, I could have ruffed two spades in dummy successfully in a couple of ways.

At the other table, they stopped in 3NT (that's a surprise!) so we picked up a swing. Even the two slam swings were not enough. I guess we needed more bad bidding!

Copyright © 2003 Jeff Goldsmith