Trust Thy Partner

I'm playing in the finals of a compact knockout with one of my favorite partners. There was only one other strong team in the event; we dispatched them handily in the semifinals. We are winning the finals as well.

At favorable vulnerability, in fourth seat, I pick up

 S:A2 H:AQ876 D:92 C:AK93
Pretty good hand. LHO opens 1D: and there are two passes to me. With a hand this strong, I have to double, which the next two players pass. RHO runs to 1H:. He's in trouble. I double in tempo. Amazingly, LHO runs to 2H:! Not surprisingly, that's passed around to me. Of course, I double again. It looks like I have about six tricks in my hand and partner is not broke.

LHO passes 2H: and partner goes into the tank. She eventually emerges with 3D:, passed to me. The bidding has gone:

LHO Partner RHO Me
1D: Pass Pass Dbl
Pass Pass 1H: Dbl
2H: Pass Pass Dbl
Pass 3D: Pass ?

Rats. They were getting creamed. My natural reaction is to bid 3NT out of pique, but is that right? No, I'm sure it is not. Partner has nothing but diamonds, and if she had the D:A, she would have bid 3H: in order to reach 3NT from my side. If she had anything outside of diamonds, she would surely have left in the double. Upon reflection, I'm sure it is right to pass. We might make 5D:, but we rate to lose a spade and a couple of diamond tricks, so we are high enough now. I'm glad I didn't react simply due to testosterone; I'm sure that I've done the right thing by passing.

It turns out to be true. Partner has  S:Jxxx H:D:KQJ1087x C:xx. 3D: is quite high enough, although the opponents misdefend by never leading trumps, so partner makes eleven tricks.

At the other table, my hand was in a vaguely similar position and bid 3NT. He went down a bunch, so we obtained a moderate pickup.

I knew partner couldn't have much more than just diamonds, because I knew my partner. I think, however, that she might have bid 3D: directly over 2H:. Once I doubled 1H:, we were in a forcing auction, so to bid 3D: immediately should show a weaker hand than to pass and then pull my double of 2H:. On the other hand, I could have had one more quick trick, and then 5D: would have made, so maybe the stronger of the two sequences was justified.

Copyright © 2001 Jeff Goldsmith