I'm playing in a regional open pairs with a partner
with whom bidding is sometimes an adventure. He is
famous for reaching slams on 3-0, 4-2, and other
somewhat inadequate trump suits. I pick up a useful
KJ10987 KJ10 K84 7
RHO is the dealer and bids 1. I have an easy
1 overcall. After this start, we have the auction
to ourselves. Partner cues 2. We play this promises
a spade fit and at least limit raise values, but with four
trumps and a limit raise, partner could bid 3. I
assume, therefore, he has either only three spades or a
hand better than a limit raise. Obviously, we should be
in game, but these are not particularly slammish cards.
I am not a big believer in fast arrival, but this is a
situation in which it is reasonable, so I bid the obvious
4, expecting to end the auction. Nope. Partner
is still there with 5. Huh? My first reaction is,
"what is he doing now?" Upon reflection, however, partner's
hand is unlimited, so he could have a slam try opposite my
hand. He could even have a slam force, I suppose. In that
case, I guess partner's bid must be asking about heart control.
Maybe RHO psyched and partner has a total mountain. Maybe he's
being an optimist. Maybe he has a long suit and some aces.
I guess he could really have his bid, so I think I ought not
break discipline and pass, much as I want to. Confused auctions
in the slam zone in this partnership nearly always end in
disaster. I guess I shouldn't pass this time; what's one more
What ought I bid if I don't pass? That's easy. 5NT shows
the guarded K, which is what I have. If partner has
a huge hand, perhaps 6NT is best, so I might as well let
him know about my hearts. So I bid 5NT.
Partner bids 6. Not again. I need to figure
out what partner is doing. Let's see...he could have
nearly independent diamonds and not really have spade
support, being afraid to bid a forcing 3 the
first time, and is offering a choice of trump suits...is
that possible with my holding Kxx?
He could have some sort of grand-slam
try...no, that's not possible, since we have to be
off a heart winner. He could be trying to make me
choose between 6 and 6NT...no, 6 would
do that quite clearly. He could have pulled the wrong
card out of the bidding box...he probably would have
noticed that by now, as I've been pondering this for
at least two minutes. Or he could have lost his mind.
Great. If he's suggesting diamonds as a trump suit,
he'll have only three (or two?) spades and I may need
to find the trump queen in spades. On the other hand,
6 would likely be cold. If that's true, I should
probably pass; 6NT is likely to need spades on a club
lead...but they'll never find it, of course. I suppose
partner could be void in clubs...nah. If my guess as
to what he's doing, however, is wrong, 6 will be
a ludicrous contract. Ding! That's easy. I've learned
how to play with this partner. Never pass any slam bid
that could be a ludicrous contract, so passing 6
is out. That leaves 6 or 6NT. I have no idea
on what to make that decision. Maybe I ought to put
the ball back in partner's court with 6? No chance.
When the auction has gone out of control, NEVER let him
guess; he may be on a completely different wavelength.
He might think I've found the A after all and bid
the grand. Hmmm...maybe that's what he's thinking with
6...letting me cue the A, even though I've
already denied it. Yikes. This is going nowhere. I think
we are probably quite high enough already, so if any slam
makes, we'll get a good result, so I give up and bid 6.
I don't really expect it to make; down two is probably what
will happen. Partner passes 6. Phew.
The opening lead is the J.
Dummy is a surprise. Or maybe not. I don't
think I can be any more surprised than I already am.
6 isn't cold. Wait a sec...what the heck was 6?
This is one of the hands I visualized for partner, except that
he would have bid 6 with it. If he'd done that, I'd've
thought long and hard between 6 and 6NT, deciding between
whether I think we would need to ruff out the clubs or whether
clubs would supply enough tricks to make 6NT without having to
find the Q. I probably would have got it wrong. In fact,
6NT is better, as I need only one of the black suits to run.
In spades, I have lots of tricks, but I may
lose two if I don't find the Q.
I see two lines of play. We are missing only 12 HCP (11 after
the lead), so I can finesse the opening bidder for the Q.
Or I can cash the two high spades and hope the person with Qxx
has three clubs so I can dispose of all my hearts. I look at their
convention card. No help there. I don't know my opponents, so
I have no idea if RHO is prone to psyching. I'm pretty sure she
has the A from the lead. Their high cards are so crummy
that LHO wouldn't think of doubling even if RHO psyched. I'll
start by cashing the A. Maybe my problem will go away.
Nope. I might as well try another spade from dummy. If RHO
shows out or plays the Q, it'll be easy. Lucky for me,
the Q appears, so I claim thirteen tricks when clubs break.
6NT would have been better, I guess, but I'm sure +1460 is a fine
It turns out that RHO didn't really psych; she just opened light
on a ten-count with six hearts. If she'd had a third spade and
one fewer heart, either line would have worked, as she was 2623.
For once, a slam-bidding adventure seems to have worked out well.
Copyright © 2002 Jeff Goldsmith