Learn to Play Bridge Like a Boss

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About Me

H. Anthony Medley is an Attorney, an MPAA-accredited film critic, and author of Learn to Play Bridge Like A Boss,Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed, and UCLA Basketball: The Real Story. He is a Silver Life Master and an ACBL-accredited Director and the author of a bridge column for a Los Angeles newspaper.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Take Advantage of Opponent's Tell

Here's a hand where we got to slam only because of my partner's fine forcing bid.

                        ♠ JT95
                        ♥ 65
                        ♦ JT82
                        ♣ 943

West                                        East
♠ K                                           ♠ AQ632
♥ 872                                       ♥ AKJT43
♦ AKQ9                                     ♦ 4
♣ QT865                                   ♣ J

                        ♠ 874
                        ♥ Q9
                        ♦ 7653
                        ♣ AK72

West                North               East     South
1D                   P                      1H        P
2C                   P                      3S        P
6H                   P                      P          P

Opening Lead AC

Bidding Commentary: I opened 1D. This is the only time when you may open a shorter minor, when you have an opening hand but are 4-5 in diamonds and clubs. You aren't strong enough to reverse if you open 1C and then make a 2D call on your first rebid, so you don't really have a rebid if you open 1C and partner responds in a major. So here you open 1D and your first rebid is 2C, showing a minimum hand, even though partner will probably think your diamonds are longer or of equal length. Partner had a huge, 4 loser hand, so instead of just reversing by bidding 2S, which would show an opening hand as responder, she jumped to 3S, game-forcing and slam invitational. That gave me the opportunity to go to slam. However, since she jumped, I don't have a forcing bid. I can't bid 4N because that would require her to respond as if spades, the last bid suit, were trump, since trump had not been agreed upon. If I bid 4H, she will just pass. We have never discussed what 5H would be here, so I couldn't do that. I took a chance, trusted her, and placed the contract in 6H, even though I had a bare opening bid with three of my points a singleton King (but it was in her second bid suit).
Play commentary: There are only two things partner had to do to make six. First, she had to trump one spade after getting rid of the singleton king on the board before cashing her Ace and Queen and before drawing trump. So she took the King, led a trump to her Ace and trumped a low Spade, because she could only discard two losing spades on the diamonds, and she had three losing spades in her hand. She then led her remaining trump on the board to her hand where she held the K-J. Her RHO hesitated and then played low. My partner didn't hesitate or think. The odds are that four cards will split 3-1 50% of the time (they divide 2-2 41% of the time and 4-0 9% of the time). But because my partner had played against her RHO often and knew her to be a player of low bridge integrity (I hesitate to use the word "cheater"), knew that her hesitation was a ploy to make my partner think she was hesitating trying to decide whether or not to play the Queen. It's a really stupid way to cheat because there's no reason to even think about playing the queen, but my partner told me afterwards that the reason she didn't play the odds and take the finesse was because of her RHO's illegal hesitation. It is illegal because you must play in tempo. While it is OK to think if there's actually a decision to be made, it's not OK to appear to be thinking when there's nothing to think about, in order to mislead declarer. Because of my partner's knowledge of her RHO, she immediately recognized her hesitation as what they would call in poker a tell.
In a nine table game, only one other pair bid slam.

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