A Weird Decision
Playing in the second round of the Grand National Pairs
(sorry, "North American Open Pairs" doesn't have the same
ring to it, and, yes, I know "national" is a misnomer
because Canadians can enter), we are vulnerable against not.
In third seat, I hold
A763 8654 KQJ94
Partner opens 2, and RHO passes. Partner's weak
two bids are pretty down-the-middle. He always has a
six-card suit and a decent hand, so the vulnerability is
not that important. My decision here, however, is
obvious; I bid 4. It might make, it might have
no play, and there's no way I can find out about heart
shortness, so looking for slam is pretty silly.
The bidding doesn't end there. LHO bids 5. I
have no idea if he's bidding to make or saving, and I
bet neither does he. Unless partner doubles, I plan to
go on to 5. I also won't know if I'm saving or
bidding to make.
Surprise! Partner bids 5! RHO passes. What
do I make of this? This partner is not one to bid the
same cards twice and he long ago learned not to preempt
and bid again. So he must have some sort of twist to
his hand. That pretty much has to be a heart void.
Really? If so, he needs only the KQ for us to make
a 15-HCP slam! If he doesn't have the heart void, my
bidding on will look pretty stupid. After lots of
reflection, I decide to trust partner and bid 6.
Partner turns up with
KJ10982 A 1097432
When spades are 2-1 and the 10 falls, he makes
a somewhat surprising overtrick.
After the hand, LHO laments that he could have let us
play 4. Yes, and we would have had half a
matchpoint. It could have been worse. At one table,
someone in his seat took the profitable 7 save.
When my hand heard a forcing pass, he bid the grand!
Ought I have considered trying for seven? I could
have cue-bid 6. I would have heard 6
and would have known that we have no top losers.
Might I bid the grand then? For it to be cold, I'd
need partner to have KQxxxx, a heart void,
and the A. Add in even one black jack and
partner would open 1, not 2.
With a heart void, partner should have
enough diamonds for the suit to be likely to run
(his actual shape would never occur to me), but
he'd still have a fair number of clubs not to have
any face cards among them. If partner only has the
KJ10 (as he did), then we need 2-1 trumps or
3-0 on my left (very unlikely), because we can't
draw trumps and ruff two clubs (6 spades plus 5
diamonds means we need two ruffs) without taking
a first-round trump finesse. That isn't a good
play, and today would blow to a stiff queen. Even
with everything else perfect, a first-round diamond
ruff wouldn't be a big surprise.
So I think, no, I ought not try for a grand.
Our auction was weird enough.
Copyright © 2007 Jeff Goldsmith