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Terror at Mid-America Center

9AM. First board of a new knock-out. I am dealt a paucity of values:

Jxxx
K10x
J109xxx
--

With all vul, my partner opens 1. We play “Walsh” style – which means that with minimal values, diamonds are skipped to bid a major. Yet, with this kind of suit disparity, I’m a diamond bidder anyway.

Over my 1 call, partner skips the bidding to 2NT. I just do not see the values for game, so I judge to sign off in 3. We play transfers here, so I bid 3.

Partner fails to alert.

Immediately, I remember that we only play transfers when I respond a major to 1! With this auction, 3 is natural – and a sign-off. I see my life flashing before my eyes. How many could we go down in 3? 400? 500? Nothing like starting off a short match with -13 imps (or more) due to brain malfunction….

As I sit there, however, waiting for impending doom, I see that my partner is thinking. Although I sit quietly and don’t allow myself to show the slightest indication that I am about to commit hari-kari, I pray that – somehow – my partner is going to save me. Does he know I forgot? Is he considering some other action? My brain repeats, over and over: Bid, Bill; bid!

And he does! 3NT. Of course, I still do not think we can make game, but I can live with -100 or so.

The opening lead is made; a low heart. Bill’s hand is:

A10xx
AQJx
KQ
QJx

He wins a heart in his hand, then plays the KQ of diamonds, both winning. A low heart to my precious 10 allows a third round of diamonds to set up the suit. The opponents now shift to clubs – but – too late. We have a vulnerable game under our belt.

After our set ends, I ask him what compelled him to bid over my sign-off. “I had such a good hand and such good spots. I almost opened 2NT – and you know how I hate to miss vulnerable games.” Oh yes; not to mention that he hates to go minus in our 3-0 fit!

Once again, my partner is there for me. I just hope I haven’t used up all my luck for the month!

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