By Ken Masson


Herself and myself recently played this very interesting hand against Beverly and her partner, Ian Morris. I was sitting West and when I sorted my hand the first thought that occurred to me was: “how many spades will I bid this to?” You can imagine my surprise when Beverly, who was the dealer on my right, opened the proceedings with a bid of 2 Spades. In the early days of bridge, any opening bid at the two level showed a very strong hand but in the modern game, most people play 2 Diamonds, 2 Hearts and 2 Spades as “weak 2’s”, ostensibly showing 6 to 10 high card points and a reasonably good 6-card suit. South certainly had the prescribed number of spades and points, but the quality of her suit might have been questioned by some sticklers.

I had to do some quick thinking when this unexpected bid hit the table. Although I had 18 high card points of my own, I was really stymied when it came to finding a bid. I would love to have been able to make a penalty double but that just wasn’t in the cards, as double in this seat would have shown a totally different type of hand, one that was short in spades but with support for the other suits. The only possible bid available to me would have been 2 No Trump, showing 15 to 18 high-card points but the “shape” of my hand was not ideal. After a few seconds for thought, I judged to pass.

A not inconsequential part of my decision-making was the desire not to place too much pressure on my partner. Had I gone into the tank for 30 seconds or more and then passed it would have been patently obvious to herself that I must have a lot of spades but no clear bid and if she had a borderline bid of her own, my hesitation could have caused her an ethical problem. In any event, my fairly in-tempo pass coupled with East’s absymally poor hand meant that Beverly had bought the contract of 2 spades.

Now I had to choose my opening lead in very rare circumstances. Fortunately, my sequence in the trump suit made the spade King an almost automatic choice, as I wanted to cut down on the number of trump tricks declarer could make by taking ruffs in her own hand. There really wasn’t too much declarer could do in the circumstances and, when the dust had settled, the defense had taken five spade tricks, one heart and one diamond, defeating the contract by two tricks and giving East West a better score than we could have achieved by playing the contract ourselves (+200).

As we put the cards back into their boards, declarer turned to me and asked: “Does this mean I am going to be written up?” Yes, it does, Beverly, it certainly does!

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