Trusting the Opponents

I am playing in the finals of a national open pairs with a partner who thinks negative doubles should show high card values rather than shape. I don't think that's the right way to play, but we are playing his way.

My RHO passes and I am dealt

 S:AK872 H:632 D:KQ5 C:Q10
I open 1S:, LHO overcalls 2C:, and partner doubles. With some partners, I'd bid 2H:, figuring that a 4-3 heart fit should play OK, but playing with this partner, there is a strong danger that he'll have only three hearts and think the same way. So I have to bid 2S:. Partner raises to 3S:, and while I have some extra high cards, the C:Q isn't pulling its full weight, so I pass. 3S: is quite high enough, as LHO leads the C:A and I see:
S: Q64
H: KQ10
D: J972
C: J54
S: AK872
H: 632
D: KQ5
C: Q10

Pass3S:All Pass

I was right to bid 2S:, as we would be playing a 3-3 fit if I had bid 2H:. I have no idea why he raised, but if everything sits well, we should be able to make nine tricks. Come to think of it, I have no idea why partner didn't just bid 2S: the first time. Whatever.

LHO cashes two high clubs. RHO high-lows to show a doubleton, so LHO continues with another club. RHO discards a small heart on this trick, as I pitch a heart. That's worrisome. At least he didn't ruff with a high spade from, say, S:Jx. Then I'd be down immediately. Why didn't he ruff anyway? He doesn't know that I don't need a discard. RHO appears to be a good player; this is the finals of a national event, after all. I think he has four trumps and doesn't want to give up a likely trump trick. In fact, I'm sure of it. I cash the S:Q in dummy and LHO contributes the S:9. I trust my opponents to be honest and not jobbing me, so I try a spade to the S:8. As I hoped, it holds, as LHO shows out. That's one hurdle.

There's one other problem with the hand. If LHO has both red aces and I draw trumps now, he'll tap me out and I'll never manage a heart trick. So I need to play a heart now while dummy still has a trump to stop the tap. When dummy's H:K holds the next trick, I draw trumps and play on diamonds to make nine tricks for a fine score.

Copyright © 2001 Jeff Goldsmith