K 10 7 3 2
A 10 8
A 9 5
Q 7 4 2
J 3 2
9 8 5 4
A 9 8 6
K Q 10 6 4
K J 6 3
A K Q 3 2
Today we feature Captain Gee and Seaman Lall, a partnership already well-known to our readers, in another scientific slam auction.
The trouble begins when Gee opens 1C instead of 1NT. Although hands with two doubletons often don’t play well in notrump, if you begin with 1C you have no adequate rebid over a 1S response, and it is a law of bridge that if there’s one response you can’t handle that’s the response you get.
In accordance with this principle the Seaman bids 1S. East overcalls 2D, and our hero has a problem. Lacking three spades he can’t double for support. Pass understates his hand. 3C overstates his clubs slightly but may be the least of the evils. Then there is 2H, the actual, forcing bid, suggesting 5-5 and a powerful hand.
North is happy to hear the 2H bid, with his excellent heart support and opening values, and cues his diamond ace. East doubles for a diamond lead, and our hero is again in a quandary. Can’t bid notrump with two dead diamonds. A belated spade raise is too risky; North might play the hand. Pass is possible, but where’s the fun in that? Now 3H, that’s a fun bid.
At this point Gee has opened clubs, rebid hearts, declined to support spades, declined to bid notrump, and showed a strong hand. So North knows he’s 5-5 at least, probably with something like Ax KQJxx x AQ10xx. He cues diamonds again to show first round control, Gee answers with 5C (what else can he bid by now?), and the Seaman, handling his unaccustomed role of captain with aplomb, confidently jumps to 6H.
Well. 6H does make double dummy on anything but a diamond lead. There are only two hitches: declarer isn’t playing double dummy, and West, as instructed, leads a diamond. Gee misguesses trump and winds up down 3, not that he had any hope of success on any line. The Seaman maintains a discreet silence after the hand. There are severe penalties for insubordination on the high seas.