Playing matchpoints against questionable opponents, I
run into a tactic that I've never seen before. Fourth
to speak, red on white, I hold:
K6542 --- Q104 98765
My LHO opens 1NT, showing 15-17 HCP, and partner doubles.
We play Woolsey over strong notrumps, so partner is showing
a four-card major and a longer minor. This partner is very
creative about entering the auction over their strong notrump,
so he may have a hand that is unexpected, but for the moment,
I shall have to believe this description. RHO does not and
redoubles in a voice of thunder.
At this point, any suit bid by me would suggest it as a
place to play. If RHO had passed, 2 would have asked partner
to pass or correct if his minor were diamonds, but pass does
that job now. LHO passes, too, and partner bids 2.
That is a nice surprise, but something is fishy when RHO again
vehemently doubles. Well, I can live with this, so I pass again.
LHO does, too, and partner redoubles! RHO smirks and passes and
I have my first real problem of the auction.
What is going on? Partner is supposed to have a good hand to
enter at this vulnerability, but he cannot be intending to play
2 redoubled. If we were to make 2 doubled, we
would have all the matchpoints, so he would just pass. Besides,
RHO sounds like a man with a fistful of clubs and I have five
of them. If partner has clubs, there are 17 of them in the deck. The
redouble must be for takeout. That means he must have five
diamonds and 4-4 in the majors. He has a club void! The first
thing I know for sure is that I must act as if I am considering
passing. This partner deserves to sweat. Fortunately, it is not
clear what to do right now, so I can happily let him worry without
having to do anything untoward.
If partner is 4-4-5-0, what can we make and what can they make?
It seems obvious that they can make 4; they have nine hearts
and lots of high cards. No, if they reach 4, I shall be on
lead and I'll lead the 9, giving partner a ruff. Hopefully,
he'll have the A, underlead it to my King (the nine was suit
preference) and I can give him a second ruff. He must have another
trick somewhere (he's crazy, but not that crazy,) so we shall beat
4. That will be a good score.
What can we make? We have
nine spades and eight diamonds. The Law of Total Tricks suggests
that, since they can probably only make nine tricks in hearts (we
are finding the best defense,) then we can make nine tricks in
spades. Due to the double fits, more tricks should be available,
but I think the two defensive ruffs we have will counteract the
double fit; we can probably make around nine tricks in spades and
probably the same in diamonds. It is also clear that we shall not
be able to play this hand undoubled. Good! So my first priority
is to be allowed to play the hand at or below 3; otherwise,
I want to double and beat 4.
Usually, the best action is to bid as much as one thinks one can
make immediately. On this hand, that is 3. I think
that is a poor tactic now, though. I want to play the hand doubled.
Jumping the bidding might discourage them from doubling or even letting
us play it at all. That means I should probably bid 2.
If I bid 2, what will happen next? Can I reconstruct their hands?
Hearts are probably 4-5, with the five on my right. Clubs are
probably 3-5 or 4-4. Spades are either 2-2 or 3-1 and diamonds
are probably 3-2, though they might be 4-1. My guess is that
RHO is 2-5-2-4, giving the notrump opener 2-4-3-4 shape. No one
can double 2! LHO will pass, RHO will bid 3, and
we shall defend 4 doubled. Unless, horrors, LHO passes
3 out of confusion. She's clearly never been in this position
before. Bidding 2 seems as if it will work out poorly.
I have a better answer,
though. If I bid 2, LHO will double and RHO will sit it
out because he has a doubleton. 2 has to be easy to make,
so +180 should be a cold top unless we can beat 4 two tricks.
In that case, I shall probably make an overtrick and +380 is better
I bid 2, after a long pause. I am still hoping that partner
is worried about my passing, but he seems fairly nonchalant rather
than relieved. All else goes as planned, and I make 2
doubled with an overtrick for all the matchpoints. The whole hand
Partner's hand was rather thin for a red vs. white overcall,
but his continuation was thoughtful and very successful. Once he
had identified the club void to me, we were getting over 75% of the
matchpoints. The unusual tactical situation for me allowed us to
get the remainder as well. What is so odd about this hand is that
I had to play in our second-best fit in order to allow the opponents
to double us. Our best fit would be too hard for them to double. Odd.
Also note that RHO bid badly. He should start showing his suits,
rather than try to double us. If he were to do so, he would reach
4 from partner's side of the table, which would pose no
problems in the play.
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| QJ10 |
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| K6542 |
Copyright © 1994 Jeff Goldsmith