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A Lighter Look


That’s right! Partner knows best. You lay down the rules and partner agrees with you. All fine in theory.

Let’s tune in to two sides of the bridge table, North…. and their partner who is by some strange twist of fate in the South seat. We have installed special listening devices so that we can hear their thinking as the board develops. Now, would that be a really good idea, to be able to listen into partner’s thinking pattern? We could understand so much more about their thoughts and improve our partnership. Maybe New Zealand Bridge will be supplying these free of charge? Have a listen (neither opponent speaks):

North, who is next to speak after West’s initial pass, and playing 5 card major openings holds:

Spade-small K8  Heart-small J7632  Diamond-small 94  Club-small AK96

I really do not want to open the bidding…such a great lead directional IHeart-small opening but:

  1. I have a hand that subscribes to the Law of 20 for opening bids
  2. It’s a bidders’ world. Be in there. Safer to open 1Heart-small than 2Heart-small, hearts and a minor, less than an opener. (True.)

South with a potentially mighty collection:

Spade-small AQT6       Heart-small AKQ        Diamond-small 52  Club-small QJT5

“Love it. I will be launching off to Blackwood soon. Partner will be fretting about their heart honours. They will really thank me for this dummy! I had better be good, though, and just let them bid their hand out. Maybe they will jump in hearts!”  1Spade-small.


At least I can now bid a suit about which I am not embarrassed.” 2Club-small.


“Love it even more now. Choice of trump suits. I suppose I will have to make it hearts as we are playing Pairs. Yet, partner could have Spade-smallHeart-small Jxxxxx Diamond-small Ax  Club-smallAKxx and now we can bid and make 7Club-small…wonderful. Let’s check partner out with a game forcing 4th suit forcing call”.    2Diamond-small.


“Which idiot started this sequence? Oh, me! Well, I cannot help partner with a diamond hold….only a couple of spades…nothing much to say. Please end this agony soon, partner.”     2Heart-small


North                   South

1Heart-small                        1Spade-small

2Club-small                        2Diamond-small  (forcing to game)



“Not so sure about the grand slam. Actually, I am wondering about slam at all. Say partner had two or three small diamonds. Let’s start bidding our outside aces and kings. Time to set trumps. I’m listening, partner.”      3Heart-small.


Phew…finally a bid I can pass. We are probably too high already. No thought required about this bid.”     Pass.


No website would allow to be printed the first few words that rushed through South’s mind. However, the censor did allow the following:

“East, your bid….and that means a real bid…no passing, please.” East either did not hear South’s plea or did not act on it. Merely pulled the Diamond-smallJ from their hand and laid it (face down, of course) on the table.

There are ways you lay down your dummy in such situations.

Maybe lose the top two hearts, showing only the singleton queen.

Ask partner if they would like a coffee in advance so that their attention did not focus on the 13 cards you displayed.

At the very least, tell partner that making three should not be a problem.

It was not…but making 4 or 5 or 6…well:

Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
K 8
J 7 6 3 2
9 4
A K 9 6
9 7 2
10 9
A Q 3
8 7 4 3 2
W   E
J 5 4 3
8 5 4
K J 10 8 7 6
A Q 10 6
5 2
Q J 10 5
West North East South
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 2  Pass 3 
All pass      


West won with the ace and had a perfect count of the club suit. Club-small2 at trick 2 for East to ruff, requesting the lower suit (diamonds) returned and a trusting under-lead of the Diamond-smallK to West’s queen…. for a second ruff. That, as they say, was the end of the defence…making 9 tricks!


Imagine North had passed (no great hand) and South had either opened 1NT (15-18 ish) and North had transferred or South had opened 1Club-small and North bid 1Diamond-small showing hearts (an increasingly popular trend).  With South declarer, not even 3Heart-small is safe since East can score three club ruffs!


“I never doubted your judgment for a minute.” South was heard to say sweetly. Not even for a few seconds?!

Richard Solomon

Staying in part-score was alas worth only 30% of the available match-points. Having a partner who shows impeccable judgment is fine. Unfortunately, other pairs' defences are just not up to it as heart slams and games were bid and made with overtricks as well. Maybe the defenders would like to acquire the listening devices referred to above?

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