Do You Trust Partner?


Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 05/09/2007
Level: Intermediate

This deal is from the 2007 Gatlinburg Regional, where my teammate, Bob Hampton, set the record for most masterpoints won at a regional (230.18).

Try it yourself. This was the hand I held, neither vulnerable, in a knockout final:

South
?A K 7
?J 10 8 7
?J 9 8
?K J 10

The dealer on your left opens 1? and RHO responds 1?. And you?

I believe in getting in early. I'd rather not pass and try to guess later. So, I made a takeout double. Yes, my shape was not perfect, but these days, the opponents open light and respond light. If you just sit there and collect 50 a trick, you will often find you have a game your way. For example, if partner has, say,

?Q x x
?x x
?A x x
?A 9 x x x

your side could have an easy 3NT.

Anyway, whether or not you double, the auction continues 1? on your left, 1? on your right*. So much for a game your way. You pass and LHO raises to 2? and RHO jumps to 4?, pass--pass--pass.

Your lead?

YouLHOPartnerRHO
-- 1? Pass 1?
Double 1? Pass 1?
Pass 2? Pass 4?
Pass Pass Pass  

 

I had my fingers on the ?J, but took them off. RHO rated to have long diamonds and 4 spades. He probably had a few losers in hearts/clubs, and if I led a heart, dummy might have good enough hearts to allow declarer to throw club losers.

So, I changed my mind and laid down the trump king to have a look at dummy. This lead was unlikely to cost a trick. This is what I saw:

Vul: None
Dlr: South
?J 10 4 3
?A K Q 2
?4 3
?Q 4 3

♠A K 7
?J 10 8 7
?J 9 8
?K J 10

 

I could see 25 HCP between my hand and dummy. Declarer jumped to game, so that didn't leave much for partner. On the first trick, partner played the spade deuce, declarer the five.

 

What next?

Do you trust your partner? Surely from the bidding he has another spade. If it is the queen, he had to play the deuce, but more likely, he had a choice from two low spot cards.

Why would he select the deuce? Good defenders signal suit preference with the trump spots. When opening leader sees the lowest outstanding spot, it should be read as showing a club card. Without a club card, looking at this dummy, third-hand should never play the ?2. He could play any other spade spot and expect his partner to "defend normally." When the deuce is played, though, he can expect his partner will shift to clubs. (For example, if third hand held five small clubs, he'd play his medium spade, and expect his partner not to shift to clubs.)

I trusted my partner. David Berkowitz is very careful with his spot cards. If he had played the ?2 without the ?A, I'd have had a talk with him later. I shifted to clubs (which club you shift to is another story), and was pleased to find that the full deal was:

Vul: None
Dlr: South
?J 10 4 3
?A K Q 2
?4 3
?Q 4 3
 
?A K 7
?J 10 8 7
?J 9 8
?K J 10
  ?6 2
?9 5 4 3
?5 2
?A 8 7 6 5
  ?Q 9 8 5
?6
?A K Q 10 7 6
?9 2
 

Sure enough, partner had the ?A and we cashed our tricks for down one. Had partner lacked the ?A, he would have played the ?6 at trick 1. At the other table, the ?J was led and declarer had no trouble scoring up his game. Thank you partner--you have retained my trust.

* Some pairs use 1? in this auction as artificial -- "4th-suit forcing."