Torturing Partner

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 08/06/2007
Level: Intermediate

Torturing Partner(David)

How much do you trust your partner? Do you hate your partner? Would you like to torture him in the auction? All of these thoughts ran through my mind when I picked up:

?K Q 10 4
?A Q 9 8
?K Q 10 2

Playing in the 2007 Arlington Heights, IL regional, my partner, David Berkowitz, opened 1NT showing 14-16 balanced. What should I do with my 20-count?

This depends on methods. I had available a bid of 3? to show a "three-suiter" with short spades (0-1) and a game force. I had a lot in reserve, but this seemed a reasonable way to start. After my 3?, David bid 3NT.

This meant he had some spade cards. I knew we had 34-36 HCP, so surely we would get to at least a small slam. The only question was whether or not we could bid seven. Opposite spade wastage, was there still a chance? I thought so. I made a further try by bidding 4?. This presumably showed first-round control (a void or singleton ace).

David bid 5?. He admitted to a suit. If he had long spades and no other 4-card suit, he would have tried to sign off in 4NT. Now that he had clubs, I was interested in reaching 7?. What next?

I tortured him again with 5?! I had bid 3?, 4?, and 5?. Was I afraid he would think we were having a mix-up? No. This must be a try for seven (since we were pretty much committed by now to a small slam).

David bid 5NT. I wasn't sure what this meant. Maybe he was trying to sign off in 5NT? Maybe he meant it as "pick-a-slam"? This is the most common use of 5NT in such auctions. Maybe he meant it as forward-going? I didn't know for sure.

But, I couldn't resist making the "master bid". You guessed it. I bid 6?! This must be a try for 7?. If he wasn't interested he could play 6NT. This is the ultimate trust (and torture) for partner. I had bid 3?, 4?, 5? and 6? with a singleton! I still wasn't worried.

David bid 7? and we played there:

David Larry
1N 3?
3N 4?
5? 5?
5N 6?
7? Pass


?K Q 10 4
?A Q 9 8
?K Q 10 2
?J 9 8 7 2
?8 7
?J 10 6 5
?8 6
  ?Q 10 5 3
?J 6 3 2
?7 4
?J 5 3
  ?K 6 4
?A 9 5
?K 3 2
?A 9 7 4


After a trump lead, David drew 3 rounds and claimed (ruffing a spade in dummy for the 13th trick). Sorry, partner for the torture in the auction. Thanks for keeping the faith!