Maritha Pottenger

You hold: 943 J762 A1098 K. LHO passes. Partner passes. RHO opens 1 and you pass. LHO passes. Partner bids 2 and RHO doubles. (Do NOT panic; it is extremely unlikely that LHO can pass for penalties, having fewer than 6 HCP. Plus, you have an honor and partner might have six clubs.) You pass. LHO thinks a bit and bids 2 and everyone passes.

You lead the K and see this dummy: 72 984 K432 J954. (Incidentally, I totally agree with Dummy's bid. Dummy's partner's most likely shape is 5-3-3-2. Dummy does not want to play a likely 4-3, or even 4-2, fit in diamonds when he knows a 5-2 fit in spades is guaranteed. To pass for penalties with no sure tricks in suicidal. Opener would need about five tricks in his hand for a pass to be right, and the club bidder might still make it, finessing Dummy out of J9xx.

Partner plays the 8 (encouraging) and you have to find a shift. Neither spades nor diamonds can be right, so you must lead a heart. Normally the Q would be correct, but think about the bidding. Declarer should have at least three hearts on this auction and might have four hearts. If he has four hearts, your partner has a singleton. It may be a singleton honor. Even if partner does not have the A or K, the 10 would be enough. You shift to the 6 and partner produces the 10. Declarer duly false-cards with the A but you know he has the K as well. Declarer thinks a bit and plays the K. Your partner ruffs with the 6 and plays a top club. What do you play?

Your card should be the 10 (encouraging) or the 8 if you play upside down carding. Your partner needs to know how to get to you in so you can cash your good the Q. Partner will duly shift to a diamond. You will cash the Q and lead another heart (knowing Declarer started with four and hoping partner can overruff the lowly spade spots in Dummy). Partner duly overruffs with the 8 and plays another top club, but Declarer ruffs with the 10 and pulls trump. The party is over.

SLAMMING and the Power of Long Suits

You hold A 108732 AKQJ864 . You decide this hand is good enough to reverse on, so you open 1. Partner bids 1 and you reverse into 2. Partner bids 3. If you play Exclusion Blackwood (which only comes up once every five years), 5 would be Key Card Ask, telling partner NOT to count the A. Instead, you bid 4 and partner bids 4. You bid 4NT, having decided that you'll risk slam if partner shows you two Key Cards. Partner duly bids 5 and you bid 6. The K is led and Dummy hits with Q7543 AK64 10 964. When trumps are 2-2, you make seven. In a field of 20 pairs, only 5 bid the slam. Sadly, 3 pairs were not even in game: 2 languished in a diamond partial and one pair was in a heart partial, everyone making seven.


RHO passes. You hold Q10976 QJ1083 KQJ and decide to open 1 on the strength of your strong intermediate spot cards. (Otherwise, opening marginal hands with a spade void tends to be a losing proposition). LHO passes and partner bids (game-forcing) 2. RHO now chimes in with 2. You do not want to encourage partner with a club raise OR a diamond bid, so you pass to show a minimum hand, and partner doubles. This is not particularly penalty oriented; it shows cards and is a “Do Something Intelligent, Partner” Double. You bid 3, showing your support and partner bids 3NT. You don't believe your hand is suited for no trump, so you bid 4, completing your pattern. Partner considers torturing you with a 5NT “Pick A Slam” bid, but is merciful and merely bids 6.

A spade is led and you are looking at:

A54 AJ AK92 A1063

Q10976 QJ1083 KQJ

The heart finesse loses, so you only make 6—the safest slam. Two pairs are in 6NT and do not get the spade lead they deserve and actually make 6NT. Three pairs are going down (presumably in 6NT). Two pairs are in 6, making. RHO had a classic 2 opening, but did NOT do so at our table. If he opens, I will pass and my partner will make a re-opening double. I will jump to 4 and he will raise me gently to 6, making because of my great heart spots. Eight pairs were not in slam.