Trust Your Partner

Whether you play with one or more regular partners, the ability to be a good partner is probably the most important skill any bridge player can develop.

To be consistently successful in duplicate bridge, you have to have developed an unerring confidence in your partner – that he or she will not lie to you or deceive you and that you know exactly what his or her bids mean.

My partner Christine and I play together 95% of the time and we believe we have developed something close to that feeling of being in sync with each other.

At a recent (12/23/2015) club game at our home club, the Vero Beach Bridge Center, that total trust in her partner let Christine bid a Small Slam in 6 Diamonds – even though she was void in Diamonds herself.

It was a great bid on her part. The hand did make 6 Diamonds even against the best defense, but I had to play it very carefully to avoid going down – but she trusted me to do exactly that. No one else did find the Diamonds Slam.

The only reason we didn’t get a top on the board was that one pair of East-West opponents who for some unimaginable reason bid 5 Spades on the hand, got doubled and went Down 7 (!) for a plus-2,000 score for their lucky North-South opponents. We only got 920 for our non-vulnerable Slam, so we were a distant second.

We made a couple of mistakes on defense and wound up just under 50% for the whole game and got no points, but if it hadn’t been for that 2,000-point score to keep us out of a top, we might well have scratched.

The 6 Diamonds Slam hand was so unusual that no bridge book on bidding conventions would be likely to get you there. It was just a matter of common sense and trusting your partner.

Our being the only ones to get to the Slam should qualify the hand for a Bridge Burglar blog entry. We played the hand against our friends Max Hughes, with whom we have often formed teams at Regional tournaments, and Bart Mefort.

Max, who was pretty amazed to see us get to the Slam, will assume the role of Flustered Flo this time with the West hand, while Christine who made the courageous Slam bid, will become her nemesis, Smug Sam, with North. I’ll play the hand as the South Declarer, Sam’s partner Shy Shem.

South Dealer; East-West vulnerable

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

The bidding:

South West North East
4 Pass 4 NT Pass
5 * Pass 6 All Pass

*Indicating zero Aces in the straight Blackwood Slam try convention.

Opening lead: King of Spades

Can you ever raise your partner in his or her suit when you’re void in it?

Flustered Flo didn’t think you could, but then on the diagrammed deal at a recent game at her home club, she saw her nemesis, Smug Sam, do it without any qualms with the North hand – and get to a Slam that no other North-South pair was able to find.

Flo was surprised to see Sam go to 6 Diamonds even though his South partner, Shy Shem, had said he didn’t have any Aces. Flo knew she had one sure trick – the Ace of the trump suit – but with the suspected weird distributions, long suits and shortnesses all over the place, she couldn’t be sure of a second trick, so she just passed and refrained from doubling.

To put maximum pressure on her opponents, she led the King of Spades, hoping to collect her Queen as her second trick after Shem would have to let her in with the trump Ace.

However, Flo was alarmed when Shem left the trumps alone for quite a while and gave her no chance to get in. Shem took the Spade Ace on the opening trick, came to his hand with the Jack of Hearts, went back to dummy with the Club Ace and collected two top hearts to slough his two Spade losers.

Only then did he come to his hand by ruffing a Club and started the trumps. Flo took her Ace and immediately led the Queen of Spades, but it was too late – Shem had the rest of the tricks with his long trump suit to make his Small Slam.

“I couldn’t believe it when the dummy came down,” said Flo. “How did you actually dare bid 6 Diamonds when you didn’t have any yourself?” she asked Sam.

“He didn’t need my help in his trump suit,” said Sam, smug as always. “I knew he had eight Diamonds. I didn’t think he’d open at the 4 level without the King, so apart from the Diamond Ace, he had five other losers. And I knew my hand could pick up all five losers.”

“What if he’d said he had one Ace?” Flo asked.

“I would have put him in 7 Diamonds,” said Sam.

“So you would have bid a Grand Slam in Diamonds even with a Diamond void in your hand?” Flo asked.

“Absolutely,” said Sam. “You’ve got to trust your partner.”

“But you got lucky that the Hearts split 3-3 in our hands and that he could use his high Hearts to pitch his Spade losers,” Flo insisted. “It was more likely they would have split 4-2, allowing one of us to trump in.”

“Lady Luck always smiles at those brave enough to make bold bids,” said Sam. “At least that’s my experience.”

“She never smiles on me and my partner,” said Flo, rather wistfully. “And I think I’m getting pretty brave, sometimes, too.”

“There’s a fine line between being brave and just plain foolish, Flo,” said Sam.

“What are you insinuating?” asked Flo.

“Oh, nothing …,” said Sam.


  1. Our bidding on this hand would be:
    2NT. 4S
    6D. Pass

    2NT = strong self sufficient suit and usually headed by AKQ
    4S = 3 aces

    Ourresponses to 2NT are : 3x = ace of this suit
    3NT = zero aces
    4C = 2 aces same colour
    4D = 2 aces same rank
    4H = 2 odd aces
    4S = any 3 aces

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