ACES ON BRIDGE
If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in doing so thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
— Romans 12:20
On this hand from the 1995 World Junior Championships, the two instructive themes are that you should try to cherish your partner, and that you may be able to protect him from the consequences of his error if you do not allow emotion to get in the way.
When West led the club eight (third-highest from three or four cards), Andrew Moss, as East, won with his queen and had to decide what to do next.
He saw that if the defense could play three rounds of spades, it would promote a trump trick for the defense. So Moss switched to the spade queen; when he followed up with the spade king, he made it easy for his partner to decide to overtake and play a third spade.
Arguably, this is no more than routine good technique. But what if (as happened at some tables) your partner, having overdone the Sunday lunch, supinely plays low on the second spade?
As East, you know declarer has all the top redsuit cards, and that he cannot ruff any spades in dummy. Since you can see at least two club tricks for him, declarer must have a 4-5-2-2 shape for the play so far to make any sense. Switch back to a club now, to break up a squeeze on your partner in the black suits.
If you play back a diamond, for example, declarer takes his seven red-suit winners, and the last trump forces your partner to concede. By breaking up a squeeze on your partner, you should earn plenty of Brownie points.
ANSWER: In third seat, this hand surely qualifies for an opening bid. There are some hands where you would bid the major, planning to pass the response, but here, since neither a one-club nor a one-heart opener stops the opponents from bidding spades, I would open my best suit and thus bid one club. I’d plan to rebid one no-trump if my partner responds one spade — this is not a hand to be ashamed of.