A Matter of Trust
by Michael Shuster
I have an unusual agreement with my favorite partner. (He has an
excellent web site; perhaps you've seen it.) When there is extreme
distribution around the table, I get the very long suits, voids and
occasional multi-void hands and he gets dealt his normal 4-3-3-3 or
4-4-3-2 piece of cheese. He calls it the "eye of the storm," but
from my perspective, it is just business as usual.
In a recent sectional swiss, I held two hands with eight card suits,
each of which presented several interesting bidding decisions.
In second seat, all vulnerable, I pick up
xx Axx AQxxxxxx.
RHO passes as dealer and I face my first choice. I could pass
and hope to sneak up on the opponents, perhaps gaining useful
information in the process. Alternatively, I could open 5
to put maximum pressure on the bad guys. There are downsides to
each of these actions. If partner has a strong hand, a constructive
auction will be out of the question and 5 could be offering
our side up for a number against air, especially considering the
lack of texture in the club suitand the two acesuseful both
for defense and for slam purposes. All things considered, I think it
is best to take the middle of the road position, so I open 1 to
get the ball rolling.
LHO makes a takeout double and partner bids 1. RHO bids 2,
and it's back to me. 3 seems pretty straightforward and consistant
with my plan. Partner's bidding spades and RHO's not doubling him worries
me a little, so I'm not as keen on this hand as I was a moment ago.
LHO bids 3 and partner skips to 5, which is passed back
to LHO who bids 5. Partner doubles and RHO passes. The
auction to this point is now
I still lack a heart control, and partner just doubled diamonds,
my ace-third suit. What could be more obvious than passing?
RHO|| Me|| LHO|| Partner|
Pass|| 1|| Dbl|| 1|
2|| 3|| 3|| 5|
Pass|| Pass|| 5|| Dbl|
Let's see. As a matter of partnership style, the double of 5,
while for penalties, means that partner believes it is our hand.
And I trust my partner wouldn't make that call if he thought they
were making, so he must have some defense.
Partner doesn't have very many diamonds, probably exactly one if the
opponents are to be believed. So what can his defense be? His
RHO announced the red suits, and with nothing in diamonds he must
have at least one fast trick in hearts, as he would be worried about
QJxx's being the victim of a crossruff.
Come to think of it, partner's failure to redouble 1 is also
making it look like he is short in diamonds. If he had a sixth spade,
I think he would have made another try for 4 (bidding 4
over 3), so partner's shape is either 5-4-1-3 or 5-3-1-4.
With either of these shapes he wouldn't redouble for fear that we
could get blown out of our constructive auction by a diamond preempt.
I bid 6 with a fair bit of confidence. RHO doubles this on the
way out, and LHO gives this some consideration before finally passing.
The lead is the K and I buy
KQ108x AQ9x x 10xx.
I win the A, trump a diamond, and lead a club. RHO plays the
Jack and I finesse the Queen. This holds, so I trump my last diamond
and lead the K. RHO follows small. I'm pretty sure the heart
finesse is working, and the show-up squeeze is marked as well (but RHO
will never have the stiff king anyway) so I ruff, draw the last trump
and take the heart finesse. This wins, too, so I make seven.
My partner and I are each pretty good at knowing the score for various
doubled contracts, but this time we each reach to check at the same time
and eventually enter 1740 in the plus column.
A couple of matches later, I hold another eight-bagger, this time in spades.
1st Seat, all Vul
AKxxxxxx x AQxx
The choices are 2, 1, and 4. With so little
defense I believe 2 to be an error and 4, a preempt
when holding the best hand at the table, is beneath contempt.
I open 1, and hear LHO bid 2. Partner raises my eight
shooter with 2! RHO bids 3, and I now have a real problem.
I have two goals on this hand. My first goal is to get to 6
when partner holds the K. The second goal is to play the hand.
Since I will have to drive to the 5-level in order to solve the
problem of the K, the second goal ought to take care of itself.
I bid 4. My plan is to bid 5 over partner's expected
4 signoff if I get the chance. Now partner will have an
opportunity to bid 5 with the K and I'll bid to the
Over 4, LHO bids 4 and partner 4, RHO passes, and
it's my call again. The auction up to this point is:
As it turns out, I don't have to follow through with my initial plan.
Since 4D created a force through 4 or a double of the opponents,
our partnership agreements about when opponents bid in our forcing
competitive auction apply. With good defense, we double, with extra
values or a defensive minimum we pass (and then, with a good offensive
hand, pull partner's expected double). So partner's 4 bid shows
an offensive minimum. That has to be the diamond king, so I bid 6.
LHO doubles this and everyone passes.
The opening lead is the club ace and I buy
Qxxx Jx Kxx 10xxx.
Me|| LHO|| Partner|| RHO|
1|| 2|| 2|| 3|
4|| 4|| 4|| Pass|
I claim 12 tricks, and this time we know the score (1660).
In each of these cases, I was able to bid slam because I trusted my
partner's auction. I also confess that both times I had second
thoughts when I was doubled...until dummy hit with exactly
what I was expecting.
Copyright © 2003 Michael Shuster