No Argument

I'm playing a regional Swiss with a new partner. He's a good player, but tough to get along with. I'm definitely regretting my choice. Not only are we not getting along, we are getting massacred. Pretty much, at this point, we are only playing for pride. My primary goal today was to decide if I wanted to play with this fellow in the future. I already know that I don't.

Partner deals me my normal number of aces and kings for the day:

 S:QJ10972 H:2 D:QJ42 C:63
He opens 1H: and RHO doubles. I don't need to get involved in this, particularly since we play that 2S: shows a different hand than this, but I'm fond of 6-4 hands, so I bid 1S:. The opponents are silent after this; they've seen us in action and know we can produce a competitive auction on our own. Partner rebids 2C:, and I have an easy 2S: rebid. Partner now bids 2NT. He could have many different shapes, but he rates to be either 2524 or 1534 with about 17-18 HCP. I suppose he could be 2533 as well. Is game possible? Just barely, I think, so signing off in 3S: is too conservative. Bidding game is too much, so I make a descriptive game try with 3D:. Partner thinks about this for about a minute, which is normally time for him to play two full hands. He eventually bids 4S:, which, of course, becomes the final contract.

The opening lead is the C:J and I see

S: K4
H: AJ753
D: K5
C: AQ94
S: QJ10972
H: 2
D: QJ42
C: 63
Pass4S:All Pass
4S: was a good choice. Switch his aces with his kings and he should sign off in 3S:. And know we are too high already. With most of his stuff working, however, game should have play. I assume he was trying to decide whether to trust me or not.

Anyway, while I like the bidding, the contract is not cold. We have two aces to lose, I'm not real hopeful about the club finesse, and there's the fourth round of diamonds to handle. It can probably go on the C:9; the lead is probably from the C:J10, but that's by no means a sure thing. LHO might be leading a doubleton. Probably not—trumps are probably 1-4, but RHO could be 3145. Come to think of it, I'm glad I bid 1S:. I suspect that 1H: doubled would not be a pretty sight.

The lead isn't a singleton, so I might as well try the club finesse. Not surprisingly, it loses. Also not surprisingly, a small trump comes back. They had time for that, but it does seem like the normal defense. Just in case RHO is 3154, I win the S:Q in hand. Fortunately, LHO follows...spades could have gone Hawaiian. We'd probably have been doubled if so. Just as it is obvious for the defense to prevent diamond ruffs in the dummy, it is obvious for me to force them to do it. I lead a diamond to the king and ace. Another small trump comes back. Odd. The S:K wins in dummy as LHO pitches a heart. So spades are 1-4.

I'm still not willing to bank on the club finesse, and I see a way around it. I cash the H:A and ruff a heart to hand. RHO pitches a diamond on the second heart! I'm really glad I didn't pass my first time. Next, I knock out the trump ace. RHO thinks about this for a while and exits with a diamond. I draw the last trump, pitching a heart from dummy, and cash the last high diamond. LHO shows out, so I have a claim. Even though I know the club finesse is a near lock, with RHO's being dealt 4153, there's a double squeeze. Since I enjoy claiming on double squeezes, I do. Partner disputes my claim! RHO wants me to play it out. Technically, I'm not supposed to, but I do just for show. I cash my last trump and LHO is glaring at everyone. The position is

H: 7
C: A9
H: K
C: 108
D: 9
C: 75
S: 7
D: 4
C: 3
Finally LHO just folds her cards. Partner is informing everyone that RHO could have had the C:10 and then my claim is busted, but it was very unlikely. I have learned not to argue with him.
Copyright © 2004 Jeff Goldsmith