Playing in a Regional matchpoint event, I sit down with a
good player on my right and his red-haired girlfriend on my left.
Partner is competent, but not very imaginative. With no one
vulnerable, the redhead
deals and opens 2, a weak two-bid. Partner passes, and after a long
hesitation, RHO bids 4. I am looking at the best
hand I'll hold all day:
AK53 AK1042 --- AK43
I have an easy takeout double, she passes, partner bids 5,
and RHO passes in tempo this time. Now I have a bidding problem.
What is going on? Can I deduce anything about partner's shape?
Obviously, he doesn't have a four card major, or he would have bid
it. The opponents probably have ten diamonds, so he probably has
three. That means he has either 3-3-3-4 shape or he
has five clubs. If he were 3-3-3-4, he would either pass the
double or bid 4, so I am confident that he has five clubs.
Can I deduce anything from the wiggle on my right? I don't know,
but he's been here before, so he would put maximum pressure on me
if he could. Bidding 4 is sort of like kissing your
grandmother; if they have a major suit game, they'll bid it and
you've gained very little. I suspect that either he thinks he has
some defense against four of a major or that he has not enough
shape to go to the five-level. He is not normally faint-hearted,
but this is not the right venue to go for 500 vs. a game,
so in either case I suspect that he has a fairly balanced hand.
If he has any shortness, it rates to be in clubs. If he had a
semi-balanced hand with only four diamonds, I suspect that he
would pass and not tell us about their fit, so I am guessing that
he has 5-3-3-2 with five diamonds. That would,
at least, explain the long decision. I cannot be sure of this,
but I think that is what is going on.
What does this mean about our chances? Unlike most auctions in
which they have preempted us, this time I think the suits are
breaking in a civilized fashion. I know that we have a nine
card club fit and that (of course) partner does not have very
much. But I do. If we have nine trumps, then my diamond void
means that we are playing with a 30-point deck. I have the best
21, so we do not need much for game or slam. Slam might well
roll if partner has a 3-2-3-5 Yarborough! I don't know that
he has more than that, but if he does, can I find out? All I
need for a grand is for him to hold a hand like
xxx Qxx xx QJ10xx. How can I get him to cooperate
in a grand slam venture? Probably not at all; he thinks he has
garbage, and he is going to be no help at all in a grand slam
search. I could probe for seven with a delicate 5 bid,
which must be forcing, but since we rate to get a good score
for reaching a 23 or 24-point slam in the first place, I do not
feel the need to take any chances and just bid 6. If my
estimation of the distribution is correct, the opponents have
preempted on a 5-5 diamond fit, which will likely not happen
at other tables. I can easily imagine other bidding going
Pass-Pass-Pass-1-All Pass. Maybe five is good enough?
Perhaps, but if 4 is making, we need to be in slam, and
I am confident that slam is cold, so I bid it ending the
J109 87 543 QJ1086.
6 was easy when each opponent was found to be 3-3-5-2,
which was my guess during the bidding. +920 was a cold matchpoint
top, beating a large number of +170s, and a few +420s.
Copyright © 1995 Jeff Goldsmith