Playing in a local pair game against unknown opposition, partner deals with our side vulnerable and opens 1H:. RHO passes and I have a decision to make early.
 S:K62 H:9542 D:1053 C:KJ7
With this partner, I have only two sensible options. I can bid a normal 2H:, or I can bid a forcing notrump and bid hearts later. Our rule on the choice is that 10-loser hands are supposed to bid 1NT, but this hand feels a little too good for that. Knowing that I am making a mild overbid, I bid 2H:. I'm glad that I supported partner because the auction suddenly gets competitive.
Partner's 3NT is natural, showing stoppers in both minor suits. She's either expecting to make it by running nine tricks off the top or she has solid stoppers in the minors without enough length to want to penalize them. That would mean a balanced hand in the 19 HCP and up range. This problem is actually very easy. Passing is clearcut. With 4-3-3-3 shape, some help in the minors, and subminimum values, 9 tricks looks easier than 10. There is very real danger of a ruff in 4H:, too, so I pass 3NT.

LHO isn't done yet. He bids 4C: and this gets passed around to me. Partner's pass is significant. She doesn't likely have the all offense hand or she'd've bid on to 4H:. She probably has exactly two clubs, likely A10 or AQ. Do I go on now?

I think not. I don't like my hand for offense at hearts, especially since now suits rate to be breaking badly. With 4/7 of my high card in their suit, it must be right to defend. I double, ending the auction. We collect 500 because partner is unwilling to lead or shift to trumps from AQ tight, but was that our best score available? The only way to know is to see if partner would have made 4H:. Let's see.

S: Q87
H: AQ1063
D: KQ4
S: K62
H: 9542
D: 1053
C: KJ7
The opening lead will be either a club or a diamond. If it is a club, partner will win and take a trump hook. Unless clubs are 7-1 or there are two trump losers, 4H: will probably make. What if they lead a diamond? Third hand must duck, which will set the hand if the opening leader has three hearts to the King. How should partner play it if the D:K is permitted to win the first trick? I'd cash the trump Ace and play a club to dummy to lead a trump towards the Q10. As long as trumps are 2-2 or the King is onside tripleton (unlikely) I'll make the hand. In real life, the 2NT bidder had  S:A H:J7 D:AJ862 C:109854 and 4H: was made about half the time. Partner would have had no problem. I'm happy with my average for +500, though.
Copyright © 1993 Jeff Goldsmith