Hand of the Month for June 2005

This month's hand occurred some time ago in a club pairs game. It's the first hand of the session. You are playing Standard in a first-time partnership. Partner (a good player - definitely no palooka) deals and opens 1♣. You are looking at this collection:

♠ K Q 9
♥ A Q 10 9 8
♦ 7 3
♣ Q 9 8

Well, that's a pretty good hand. You have a normal enough 1♥ response, and you duly make it.

The opponents are silent, and partner leaps to 4♥. Back over to you.

Those two small diamonds are certainly annoying. Blackwood (you're playing plain vanilla Blackwood, not key-card) is not going to help. Even if partner has all three missing aces, the grand is probably a poor bet (else he'd have opened 2♣ or possibly 2NT). If he has two, you could be off the first two diamond tricks.
And annoyingly enough, you don't have any first-round controls to cue bid. If you bid 4♠, partner might suddenly hate his hand if he's looking at the ♠A, thinking you are void. 5♥ would ask about trump quality, which you already know, since unless partner has flipped he has not less than ♥K x x x. What to do, what to do? Decide before you read on.

OK, made your choice? At the table, you leaped to 6♥, certain you could just see S.J. Simon nodding his approval ("Bid what you think you can make!"). Partner frowned (which, being an ethical player, you Did Not See) and called 7♥. The opening lead was the ♦A. Too bad. You have 13 tricks if any other suit is led, because partner puts down:

♠ A J 5
♥ K 7 4 3
♦ 4
♣ A K J 9 4

One down. Partner said he couldn't construct a hand consistent with your 6♦ call that didn't include the A♦.

When you check the final results, it turns out that everyone else in the room was in 4♥, making 6.

Any ideas on how this hand SHOULD have been bid? Send your comments to the webmaster and we'll tally them up.