Playing a sectional Swiss with a competant but
unimaginative partner, I pick up a pretty good
10 A962 AK105 AKQ2
I'm in third seat at unfavorable vulnerability,
wondering how I'm going to handle this hand if
RHO doesn't open 3 when, to my surprise,
partner opens 1.
Partner insists that 2/1s promise either a five-card
suit or trump support. In his methods, a forcing 1NT
is the systemic call with this hand. There is no
way I'm bidding 1NT. If partner bids anything but
2, my next call will have to be 6NT. Bidding
1NT is planning to perpetrate a stupid auction, so I
bid an anti-systemic 2. If worse comes to worst,
I can always bid 6NT later. The opponents stay silent
(rats!), and partner rebids 2. This doesn't
promise six spades; it's how he'll continue on many
minimum hands. I still want to know more about his
hand and have no way to show mine, so I bid a semi-artificial
and game forcing 2NT. It's semi-artificial because 3
isn't forcing, so I have to bid 2NT on some single-suited
game forcing club hands.
Interestingly, partner now bids 3. Sounds like
he has Jxx and a minimum hand. The minimum is no
I have no idea what to do now. I think I'll just bid
slowly without a plan. I'd like to judge between 6
and 6NT; I don't see a good way to tell which is better,
so I'll see what I can milk out of partner. So I bid 3.
Partner bids 3NT. That suggests that he's 5323 or 5233, probably
the former. If he had a sixth spade, he'd probably rebid them
now. He could be 6313 with good hearts, but I doubt it; he
might have raised clubs directly with a singleton. With a
real dog, he'd've opened 2. No, I'm
pretty sure he's balanced. I have some forcing bids left,
so I try 4. Partner thinks about this a bit, as well
he might, and emerges with 4. He has the A.
Good. Can we make a grand? If he has AKxxx KQx xx Jxx,
which is more or less what he is likely to have, how's the
grand? Not good. More importantly, 6NT is not cold, either;
6 is much better. All in all, it looks to me like
6NT is going down and 6 is a favorite. Even if 7
is making, I suspect making six will produce a huge swing, so
I end the auction by jumping to 6.
LHO has no problem leading the Q and dummy hits:
Hmm...I didn't guess partner's hand very well. 6NT has
play, but it is more or less on 3-3 spades or very good
luck in the minors. 6 is definitely better.
The play has some catches. If trumps are 3-3, it's easy,
but if not, I need to ruff two red cards in dummy. Entries
will be a problem, so I can't afford even one round of trumps;
after I have ruffed two red cards, how do I get back to hand?
I'll need that third trump as an entry to hand.
Moreover, I may have a problem in the end if I don't cash the
spades immediately, so the first order of business is to win
the K and cash two spades pitching a heart. That carries
off fine. LHO drops the Q on the second spade, but
he's seen me show out, so that doesn't mean anything.
I need to ruff my losers next. I cross to the A
and play a third heart. LHO plays the J on the third
round. Since he doesn't know who has the heart spots, it looks
safe to ruff low, but I might as well use the 8, which holds
as RHO follows. Now the Q and another
diamond to hand. I lead my 10 and LHO shows out, pitching
a spade. There's no reason to ruff high, so I win the 4. Maybe
I'll make seven after all. I lead the carefully-preserved last
trump from dummy and draw three rounds of trump. LHO turns
out to have four to the J, so at trick 12, I cash the
K and claim twelve tricks.
The whole hand was
6NT went down at the other table, so we win 16 IMPs on the
board. 6NT could have been made, but the winning line is
hardly indicated. In practice, declarer just ducked a spade
and when the suit didn't break, went down one. On a heart
lead, pretty much declarer needs to risk an early diamond
finesse to make, which doesn't seem likely.
Why did the spades have to be cashed early in 6?
If LHO had 3424 shape, in the four-card endposition:
If I cash the K, LHO can ruff and
cash a heart. If I cash the spades, I can't get back
to hand; if I ruff a spade, LHO overruffs and cashes
a heart, because I'm out of trumps. As the cards lay,
however, two early rounds of spades were not necessary,
because I can cash two spades and ruff a
spade, eloping with my 2 at trick 12.
Copyright © 2005 Jeff Goldsmith