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What is Partner Doing ??????


by Bernard Marcoux, Ste-Adèle, Québec

 

      

Everybody vul, partner opens 1 and you have: A 10 x x x  A K x x x  J 9

 

You think immediately of slam, of course.

 

Partner         RHO               You                LHO

1                  2                 ?

 

But… there is always a But, no?  Life would be too easy without buts.  So RHO decides to invite himself into the conversation with a 2 preempt.  What do you do?  You pass in tempo, silently calculating the astronomical number you will get when Partner will reopen with a double and you will pass, of course.  Partner thinks and thinks and you get that uneasy feeling something will go wrong.  She finally puts her hand into the bid box and, from across the table, you can see it will no be the x card.  What is she doing to me???

 

Partner         RHO               You                LHO

1                  2                Pass               Pass

3                  Pass                ?

 

She puts 3 on the table.  What is partner doing?

 

RHO passes and you have to think.  Why would she bid 3?  If she had the right distribution, she would double.  If she had a powerful 5-5 or 6-5, with a heart void, she would bid her second suit.  If she had a balanced 18-19 with a heart stopper, she would bid 2NT.  She doesn't have that obviously. 

 

So what can she have? 

 

She is practically forcing you to game and you didn't promise anything.  You could have very few points.  So what does she want from me?

 

She is asking for a heart stopper.  She is saying: if you have a heart stopper, partner, please bid 3NT.  Why does she want me to bid 3NT when I didn't show any points?

 

Because she has tricks, many tricks.  Where?  In clubs.  She has solid clubs.  Her 3 says: partner, please bid 3NT if you have a stopper in hearts, I have at least 7 tricks in my hand. 

 

So do you bid 3NT? 

 

If you bid 3NT, you are not doing a simple math operation.  If partner has 7-8 tricks in her hand, how many do you have?  You have 4, plus J 9.  This J 9 is gold.  Slam is definitely in the picture.  But (remember: there is always a BUT) now you have a 2nd problem: how can you ask for keycards?  The more you think, the more you come to recognize you never discussed that with partner.  If you invent something on the spot, you might confuse her and you will end up in a ridiculous contract.  You sit there and think for 2-3 minutes: what can I do?

 

Eventually you realize that you have to decide all by yourself, you have to place the contract alone, you have to jump to slam.  3rd problem: do you jump to 6 or 7?  A grand slam is very likely.  How can you decide?  Think about other conditions.  What other conditions?  There are laws at bridge : second hand low, third hand high, an honour covers an honour, LTC, etc.  But (here we go again), the one and only important law at bridge is the situation in front of your eyes.  THAT situation is THE LAW.  What is the law here?

 

Are you playing in a national event against top players?  No.  Are you playing in a world championship?  No.  You are playing in your local club, THAT is the LAW at the moment.  So be practical: if you bid a small slam, you should get probably at least 10 on a top of 12.   So you jump to 6, partner makes 7 and you get 10,5.

 

Partner   You

S K x x

x

Q x

A K Q x x x x

S A

A 10 x x x

A K x x x

J 9

 

Next case. Your receive: x   A x x x  A x x  K Q J x x  and you open 1.

  

You                LHO                Partner                     RHO

1                  2                  2                           Pass

2NT                 Pass                 4????????

 

What is partner doing to me?  Think.  You said you had a stopper in their suit and he goes past 3NT.  What can he have?  Does he have a fit in clubs?  Maybe he would first cuebid 3 and then bid 4, making it clear he has slam ideas in clubs.  Why jump to 4?  It has to be a splinter.  But for which suit?  For spades, obviously.  Partner is telling you: spades is trumps, I have long and strong spades (most probably 7 solid, you could have none), don’t worry.  What do you bid?

 

You                LHO                Partner                     RHO

1                  2                  2                           Pass

2NT                Pass                 4                            Pass

4                 Pass                 4NT                           Pass

5                 Pass                 5NT                           Pass

??

 

Cuebid 4.  Partner now bids 4NT  RKC.  You respond 5, 2, no trump queen (don’t worry, partner has it).  Then partner bids 5NT, asking for specific kings.  This 5NT is asking, but it is also telling.  What is partner telling you?  He says: WE have all 6 keycards, so I have the club Ace.

 

Do you bid 6 showing the King?  Before you pull the 6 card from the bid box, stop and… just add.  Partner says he has 7 solid spades, plus the ace of clubs.  That is 8 tricks.  How many do you have?  You have 5.  So partner and you have at least 13 tricks.  Don’t just show the King of clubs, that would be lazy.  This 5NT is asking for specific kings, but it is mainly asking you to think first.  Do you have a source of tricks partner is not aware of?  Yes clubs.  So jump.  Jump again?????  Yes jump to 7NT.

 

Partner   You

S x

A x x x

A x x

K Q J x x

S A K Q J x x x

x x x

x

A x

 

This time you get the absolute TOP.