Playing in an early round of a national pair event,
I'm dealt a hand that looks interesting, A1075 A AKJ106 QJ4.
Partner opens 1! With this 19-count, we are going to play
a slam, but which one is far from clear. We play Walsh, so if
I start with 1 and then bid spades, we are in a game force.
That seems efficient, so I bid 1. Partner appears to be
unbalanced (and his hand, too), because he continues 1.
We play 1 natural and game forcing. Handy this time.
Partner doesn't alert, but LHO asks about 1. "Natural
and forcing to game. You see, we play 2 denies four spades
and is forcing to game." Anyway, he thinks for a bit and jumps
to 3. Cool. He should be 0445.
If he has the AK and the Q, we should be on a
grand. That's only 9 HCP; he surely has more than that.
Since there's no way he can have an opening bid with 0445
shape and not have a club honor, Blackwood is safe. Will
it tell me what I need to know to bid 7NT? I think so;
partner will show one key card. Then I can bid 5 and
he'll bid 6 to show the trump queen and K. I think
6 now can't ask about the K; I already know
he doesn't have it. It should be a choice between 7
and 7NT. He may not be able to get the decision right, but
I don't see a better way to try for 7NT. In any case, bidding
a cold 7 should be a pretty good result.
I've been thinking long enough. I trot out 4NT. Partner,
as expected, bids 5 to show one key card. I continue
5 as planned. Partner comes up with a surprise,
5! Huh? He can't have the K. Would he jump
in diamonds with only Qxx? He can't be 1444; we open
those 1. Shrug. I try 6, asking about the
K. I'm pretty sure he has it, but let's be sure.
He responds 6. Cool. So we have two spades, two
hearts, five diamonds, and four clubs. That's thirteen tops.
I leap to 7NT, ready to claim at trick one.
LHO goes into the tank about his opening lead. As well he
mightwe have bid all four suits and landed in 7NT. There's
no reason to torture him, so I tell him, "don't think too long,
we have thirteen tops." Partner says, "Fourteen. I have the
queen of hearts." And so it is.
After the round, I wonder why partner opened 1 instead
of 1. It worked out well, but what was he going to bid
if I responded 1? He's out of range for 1NT or 2NT. On the
other hand, opening 1 and rebidding 2 doesn't
look like a panacea, either. But he's strong enough to
continue 2 over 2 and that should get us to the
right strain at least. Truth to tell, I'd probably open his
hand 1NT. Maybe I've been playing too much with Marshall Miles.
Not knowing about the fourth club trick might be enough for us to be
forced to stop in 7.
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Goldsmith