This deal is from the 2016 North American Bridge Championships in Orlando where I temporarily revived my partnership with Marty Bergen. Enough years have gone by to publish this embarrassing deal from my notes. In a team game, with neither side vulnerable, I dealt as South with:
♠Q J 10 9 2 ♥K 10 9 ♦A 5 4 3 ♣8.
With that good five-card suit and the beautiful 10–9s, I opened 1♠. LHO overcalled with a strong notrump, and Marty jumped to 3NT.
What’s that? If he wanted to be in 3NT, he would have doubled. So, this must be some sort of raise? What page of the notes was this on, I wondered. I must have had a very confused look on my face. I retreated to 4♠ and everyone passed. A high club was led, and dummy surprised me:
Huh? It seems a penalty double wasn’t available to Marty; it must have been on one of those pages of notes I hadn’t fully comprehended. He had no forcing bids available, so he bid what he thought he could make.
Had I been on the same page (pun intended), I would have passed and nothing good would have happened. The defense would have led clubs and we’d have no chance, losing four clubs and the &spade;A.
How about 4♠ with fewer trumps than our opponents? Let’s take a look at the Real Deal:
West led a high club. What next? He tried another high club, which was as good a defense as any. I ruffed and played a spade to the king which held. I came to the ♥10 and drove out the ♠A. West played a club to dummy’s queen, but I came to my hand and drew trumps, happy to find them 4–3. I had 10 tricks without the diamonds – four in each major and one in each minor. Had West never continued clubs, I would make my 10 tricks by losing only the black aces and the ♦K. 4♠ was undefeatable.
Bidding accidents usually lead to poor results, but in this case, luck was on our side. The 5–1 major-suit game was cold! Note: The more prosaic 4–3 heart fit would also have produced a makeable game.