Sometimes bad bidding is its own reward;
sometimes you have to work for it.
In the last match of a sectional Swiss, a
blitz might get us into the overalls. Not
a successful day.
Early in the match, I pick up
A862 AJ109863 J3
Vulnerable against not, partner opens a 15-17 notrump
in first chair. First order of business: hearts are
trump. If I need to ruff them good, I don't think my
hand will provide enough entries to make a high-level
spade contract superior. Second order of business:
how to investigate slam. I think I'll try transfering
to hearts and self-splintering in diamonds. If partner
doesn't cooperate, we'll stop in game. I've been thinking
about this for awhile, and RHO has already passed. I
bid 2, starting my plan. LHO doubles this and
two passes come around to me. That means partner has
exactly two hearts (or stiff King, I suppose) but not
length and strength in diamonds. I'll guess that LHO
has the minor diamond honors, so unless partner has a
total dog, I should have play for 6. Rather
than draw a roadmap of my hand, I'll just bid it.
The opening lead is the J and dummy is quite
My bidding wasn't a thing of beauty, but that dummy
was a terrible buy. The trumps are nice, but a minimum
with four points wasted in diamonds is unlucky. I have
play, so maybe 6 wasn't as silly as it seems right
I don't think LHO is giving me the works in spades;
his lead looks like a singleton. If so, I can pick
up spades and all I need to do is guess clubs to make.
Entries are a problem. It'd be nice if trumps were 2-2.
I could then take the spade finesse and not have to guess
clubs until trick 11. So I win in dummy and cash two trumps.
On the second round of trumps, RHO shows out, so I overtake
in hand and draw the last trump. RHO has echoed in clubs.
That's dire. If she's telling the truth, I may not be able
to guess clubs. Furthermore, if she has the A, I
have no play. I need not only a trick from the clubs, but
also an entry to dummy. LHO can foil that by ducking the
J or covering the 3 with the Q. He
doesn't know that yet, however, so I think I'll put him to
the test immediately.
On the lead of the 3, LHO follows low, without
apparent agony. If he had two aces, I think he'd've at
least thought about doubling. And led a trump. And RHO
might not have signalled as she did. And RHO might not
have been so ready to give up two clubs with the queen
rather than the ace. All my clues suggest inserting the
10. I do, and it loses to the A. Now all
that's left is to win a club and take a spade finesse.
It works, so I score up +1430. Rough going, but I'm sure
this will produce a healthy swing for us.
A few boards later I pick up in third hand
QJ2 AKQ86 KJ75 A
A pretty good mittful and I get to open after
two passes. 1 seems obvious. LHO passes,
and partner commits Drury, which RHO doubles.
With this partner, I have no idea what my bids
mean now; if RHO had passed, 2 would have
been artificial and more or less set up a game/slam
try auction. After the double, for all I know, he
might pass 2. Does 3 show length or
shortness? I don't know. No auction that starts
with that much doubt is going to be any good, so
I bid what I think I can make, 6.
The opening lead is the J and I see
Oh, well. Looks like 7 is cold and 7
is vey good. I have no idea how to bid either of them in this
partnership, so that's nothing to worry about. If
the opponents get there at the other table, kudos to
them. In the meantime, how do I play 6? It's not cold.
If trumps break, I have 13 easy tricks with a spade ruff.
If trumps are 5-0, I am probably cooked, so what about
a 4-1 break? If I duck a trump early, a club continuation
by RHO could prove awkward. Trying to ruff two spades in
dummy risks 7-1 clubs and 0-4 diamonds. (I know they
are not 4-0; RHO would have doubled 6 if so.) I don't think
diamonds are zip-splitting, but 7-1 clubs is a real possibility.
RHO's preempts are pretty solid, so she might have passed with
KQ-seventh. Or she might be 4-1-1-7 and not want to preempt
with Kxxx. I don't think there's a perfect solution,
so I shall take the line I like best. I win the first trick
perforce, cross to the A, and play a heart off dummy.
RHO plays a small one, so I cover it gently. LHO is quite
suprised to win this trick with the 9 and doesn't
know what to continue. Eventually he settles on a club.
(Rats. They were 6-2.) I ruff, ruff a spade, draw trumps
and claim. Trumps were 4-1, so the overtrick wasn't available,
but with diamonds 2-2 and clubs 2-6, I could have ruffed two spades in
dummy successfully in a couple of ways.
At the other table, they stopped in 3NT (that's a surprise!) so
we picked up a swing. Even the two slam swings were not enough.
I guess we needed more bad bidding!
Copyright © 2003 Jeff Goldsmith