Walkin' da Dawg
Playing in a club game with a sound but unimaginative
partner against opponents who are certainly not world
class, I pick up in second seat vulnerable against not
AJ876432 Q AJ52
As I look at my hand, a regular partner pulls up a
chair to kibitz. Turns out his client canceled at
the last minute, so he decided to watch a hand or two.
RHO opens 1. I like to play that 4 is
Namyats for one of the majors here, but partner would
not have any idea what I was doing. In any case, at
this vulnerability, I don't want to wave a red flag
in front of the opponents, so I simply bid 1.
LHO bids 2, partner raises to 2, and
RHO skip bids to 4. If the opponents have
all their stuff in the red suits, it looks like
partner may have black stuff, in which case, we
could easily have a slam. I could bid 5 as
a slam try or just bid 6, but is that a good
idea? I figure we can make 11 or 12 tricks in spades,
and they can make 11 or 12 tricks in hearts. If they
think we bid 6 with any degree of confidence,
they'll bid 7. +680 will be a much better
score than +100 or +300, so my real goal isn't to
find a slam, but to buy the hand in spades below
the seven level. Hmmm...even 7 might not
be ridiculous. Give partner king-fourth of spades
and king fifth of clubs, and on a heart lead, we
might make a grand slam. Still, since I don't
plan to bid a grand, I want to buy the hand, so I
shall walk the dog.
I study my hand for the required ten seconds, and
bid only 4. LHO takes perhaps a millisecond
and bids 5. If we had been bidding orally,
he'd've belted it out. Partner and RHO pass, and
I take about 3 seconds and bid 5. I think
one ought always pause a bit before acting in a
high-level auction, so I pause here to try and
maintain an even tempo. LHO thinks this time for
maybe five seconds, and bids 6. Again, this
is passed to me, and after the requisite three or
four seconds, I bid 6. LHO has much more of
a problem this time, and after 30 seconds he doubles,
ending the auction.
The opening lead is the K, and partner remarks,
"you are going to like my hand," as he lays down the
Indeed, I do like his hand. 6 isn't cold, but
it certainly has play. The opening bidder appears to
be 1453 or 1444. That leaves responder with 0742 or
0751. With the latter shape, he might well have leapt
to 6 instead of bidding 5. Or maybe he
was walking the dog, too.
If RHO is 1453, I'd like to avoid losing to a doubleton
Q offside. If I strip the majors and play a
diamond, RHO might be good enough to realize that I'm
4-4 in clubs and that a ruff and discard won't help me.
Oddly, in this case it will, because I can then
show-up squeeze him in the minors. So I ruff the first
trick, cross to the K, and ruff another heart.
I might as well lead a diamond from dummy; RHO's tempo
may tell me he does not have both diamond honors. Or
he may simply duck a diamond if he has only one of
them, which may be good for me.
I cross to a high trump, and play a small diamond.
RHO, without much thought, wins the K. So he
has both honors. I'm hoping he now plays a heart,
but after a fair bit of thought, he tries cashing
another diamond honor. I ruff and run all the
trumps but one. RHO pitches two diamonds. So there's
no reason to continue with the last trump. I lead
to the K. LHO plays the ten on this, not that
it matters much. When I cash the J, RHO
shows out, so he's marked with four clubs. I can
take the club finesse with confidence. +1660.
It turned out that RHO had 1444 shape. If he
had exited a club, I would have won the J
and squeezed him in the minors to make twelve
tricks. Since I was pretty sure that he had
at least three clubs and quite possibly four,
that was the play I was intending.
On the other hand, in that case, I would have
gone down if clubs were 3-2 with the queen
offside and the ten on my right, whereas playing
a low club then would ensure the contract.
Perhaps I ought to have left RHO with a heart
exit so that I didn't have to make this guess,
but I was really hoping for a "useless" ruff and
discard so that I didn't have to guess clubs at
all. I think a heart return was much more likely
than a club return, so against these folks, my
line was probably best.
Copyright © 2006 Jeff Goldsmith