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A Lighter Look


That’s your partner, there to help you out, in any way they can. Hopefully, they can do so within the rules….but sometimes the rules do prevent even your partner from saving you from utter disaster.

It’s Pairs, a 5A event, and only the opposition are vulnerable. Being not vulnerable offers a bit of flexibility in the bidding. “Flexibility”? That means when you reach a bad contract and the opposition fail to double you, you can go a couple off, maybe even more, and still get a good score.

So, with that in mind, as West, you see the following sequence:

West          North         East            South

                                      1NT            2Diamond-small

1NT is 12-14 and 2Diamond-small you are told is natural. You hold the following:

Spade-small J

Heart-small KQ62

Diamond-small 732

Club-small T8732

Hardly an inspiring collection. There is a good case for passing. Who knows where the spade suit has gone while if you made a take-out double, you do not need two guesses to know which suit partner will call. So, passing and leading that Spade-smallJ seems a wonderful idea.

You are bereft of such great plans and bid 2Heart-small. Everyone passes and North does the decent thing and leads Diamond-small10. Down goes dummy:

You                                             Dummy

Spade-small J                                             Spade-small QJ96

Heart-small KQ62                                     Heart-small J2

Diamond-small 732                                        Diamond-small KQJ4

Club-small T8732                                   Club-small Q52

Decorum dictates that you thank partner for that collection. You can see how the play will go. Cover the diamond. South wins and North will score a diamond ruff. South will regain the lead and you will incur another ruff. You will lose at least one spade, two ruffs, Heart-smallA, Diamond-smallA and at least two clubs, probably three including a club ruff. Great bid, that 2Heart-small!

Our Hero to the rescue


Wait a minute, though. South was muttering something to our partner about having some of their cards. You were too depressed to notice a certain duplication in the black suits with your own hand!

We never got further than the opening lead. Partner had saved the day by having red backed cards whereas everyone else had blue! Partner had of course retained the same 13 cards from the previous board where he had opened 1NT and had played it stoically to make 7 tricks! He enjoyed that hand!

Partner the hero had saved a really bad score by his retention of this hand.

Partner the villain condemned us to a 40% score for a fouled board….probably more, though, than I would have got for playing in 2Heart-small!


Have you ever held the same hands on two successive boards? No, partner has not, either, though these two must have seemed very similar!

For the record, the real East hand contained no less than 7 spades with a successful spade partial the likely result and South had a very legitimate 2Diamond-small overcall. Was partner the hero or the villain?

Richard Solomon


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