Four Tops

I have a few quirky ideas about bidding, to say the least. One such idea is that even playing a five-card major system, one ought to open some four-card majors. The conditions have to be just right, but it happens once in awhile. One cannot do it too often or partner starts to cater to the possibility, which is not the point.

Playing in a sectional open pairs, I deal myself

 S:K875 H:AKQ8 D:KQ5 C:75
with both sides vulnerable. This hand meets one set of my conditions for opening a four-card major, so I open 1H:. I know this is not the field choice, so I am probably shooting for a top or a bottom on the board; they'll all open 1NT.

The bidding goes my way. LHO passes and partner bids 2H:. Most likely, I have a top available now, as we have found hearts while the rest of the room is in 1NT. I bet hearts will play at least a trick better, so we probably have a very good result coming.

It gets better. RHO doubles 2H:. This was not the right time for him to pre-balance; he's getting creamed. I redouble, of course. We are about to get a top board. LHO bids 3C:, but partner bids a studious 3H:. Rats. I infer from his bid that he doesn't have anything in clubs (with even Jxx, he'd pass it around to me) and has at least four hearts. He should have a minimum (passing 3C: and pulling to 3H: when I double is stronger), but I'm sure he doesn't know that. Playing 3H: is probably sufficient to get a good score, but I think 4H: is going to make. With nothing in clubs, partner needs to cover one or two of my other losers. Since all the finesses rate to work, only a very unlucky lie of the cards will set 4H:. So, knowing that I'm not getting good matchpoint odds by my choice, I bid 4H:. All Pass.

The whole hand turns out to be

S: Q102
H: 10974
D: 63
C: A943
S: 93
H: 52
D: J1087
C: QJ1062
S: AJ64
H: J63
D: A942
C: K8
S: K875
D: KQ5
C: 75
4H:All Pass
4H: turns out to be cold and on the S:9 lead, trivially easy to make. The defense slips, and I make five for +650.

+650 is a cold top, of course. But so was +620, as no one else got to game. And so was +500, what we would have collected from 3C: doubled. (Why didn't partner saw off 3C:?) And so was +170, as no one got to hearts. That's four tops on the board.

Copyright © 2001 Jeff Goldsmith