Lucky You

Playing in a local duplicate against unknown opponents with a partner who is a good defender, but is famous for torturing partners, I pick up:
 S:843 H:AK4 D:106 C:KQJ43
LHO opens 1S:; partner passes; RHO bids 1NT, which is alerted as forcing for one round. I have an easy 2C: call, which ought to get partner off to the best lead for our side, and might help him compete to the 3-level. LHO bids 2S:, and no one has any more to say. Partner leads the C:8 (good bid) and dummy appears:
S: 43
H: J86
D: AQJ83
C: 975
S: 765
H: AK4
D: 106
C: KQJ43
The first few tricks go quickly. I play the C:J at trick one, won by declarer with the Ace. He plays the D:7 to the Ace, partner supplying the 2. I drop the 10, trying to create an illusion of a singleton, just out of habit. Declarer leads a low trump off the table and finesses the Queen, losing to the King. Partner returns the C:2, which I win with the Queen. I cash the King and partner pitches the H:7. What does this mean? I cannot tell. It looks like a middle heart, since partner probably has length. Obviously, he does not know that I have the H:AK, so he cannot encourage in hearts, but if he has the Queen, he does not want to discourage, either. Probably, he is just trying to torture me. Fortunately, it is obvious to cash the H:K, so I do. Declarer follows with the 3 and partner goes into the tank for about 15 seconds. What is he thinking about? Let's try to count out the hand. Declarer has six spades from the bidding, three clubs from the play, and certainly has the D:K. With this thin a dummy, he could not afford to reject the diamond hook. If he has the King, he must have three diamonds, otherwise he has blocked the suit, which seems like an odd play. Declarer has followed to the heart, so he is marked with 6-1-3-3 shape. The H:A will not cash. I know what partner is going to do! He is thinking about playing the Queen to make me shift to a club to give him a trump promotion. Before I act on this, I must check if I have used the information that partner is thinking. Am I entitled to know that partner has more than two hearts? Yes, of course. If he had Qx, then declarer would have concealed a five card heart suit, which would give him 4-5-1-3 shape. No way. Partner finally emerges with the expected H:Q. In order to elicit some measure of revenge, I intentionally wait about 20 seconds before continuing with the C:4. Partner deserves a little torture himself; if I had not had a count, I would have had to figure out what he was doing with that Queen of hearts. Declarer ruffs the club with the ten, overruffed with the Jack. Partner continues with a diamond (maybe I can ruff), but when I follow declarer claims, making two for -110, not a bad result, but we are cold for 3H:. Partner apologizes for taking so long on the heart play and for not bidding 3H:, but he did not like that two-thirds of his points were in declarer's suit.

After the round, I mention to partner that I was going to give him a club ruff, but when he tanked before that Queen, I had to review my ethical situation. He catches the faintest glimmer of a grin, and replies, ``Rubbish, you were just trying to make me sweat.''

Copyright © 1992 Jeff Goldsmith