A Reverse

Playing in a KO match with a strong partner and not so strong opposition, I deal myself
 S:AQ10 H:AK92 D:4 C:AQJ95
Some would open this hand 2C:, but in my opinion, there may well not be a 3-4-1-5 hand which can open 2C:. I suppose 3-4-5-1 is even worse. In any case, this one isn't close, so I open 1C:.

LHO leaps to 2D:, and partner finds a negative double. RHO pushes to 3D:. I have an easy 4D: bid. Partner's negative double doesn't guarantee four cards in each major, and he could have a very good hand.

Not altogether surprisingly, partner chooses 4S:. Now what? It seems natural to bid 5D:, but is that best? It ought to be ambiguous about strain, but maybe partner will think I'm confirming spades and looking for slam. He oughtn't; I should bid 5S: to confirm spades and invite slam, but many players will think that denies a diamond control whereas 5D: is the same thing, but with a control. Regardless, 5D: isn't a bad bid. Is there something better?

I think so, yes. What about 5H:? Is that forcing? Yes, it has to be, because it's technically a reverse. In order for partner to take a preference to my first bid suit, he has to raise the level. That's the definition of reverse, and that's what he has to do. So 5H: is forcing. Will it tell me what I need to know? I think so. If partner has four hearts, he'll raise hearts. If he has five decent spades, he'll bid spades. If he has three good clubs, he'll bid clubs. 5H: doesn't help me decide about level, but unless I commit to spades, I can't stop below slam anyway, and, frankly, I'm OK with that.

So I bid 5H:. Partner goes into the tank, as well he might. He thinks and he thinks. And thinks some more. And emerges with 5NT. Cool! That's obviously pick a slam, and I know which to pick, 6C:. Everyone passes that. Partner turns out to have

S: J9532
H: Q63
D: A10
C: 1076
S: AQ10
H: AK92
D: 4
C: AQJ95
It looks like 6C: is the best slam; a 4-1 trump break is not too hard to handle, but that could be real trouble in spades.

In practice, 6C: makes easily, but 4S: (Yes, 4! Teammates said, "don't ask.") goes down at the other table! This is the only big swing board in the match, so we win it easily.

Copyright © 2007 Jeff Goldsmith