Playing in the last match of a Flight A Swiss teams,
we have a lead of 15 victory points. We draw a very
good team who has made a surge towards the lead after
dinner. They have no client, so perhaps they are just
not morning people. They need to beat us 18-2 to win
the event. That means we can afford to lose by 19 IMPs.
20 would not be good enough. No one else has a chance.
While 19 IMPs seems like a good cushion, we need to play
tough. Every IMP counts.
Not much has happened at our table
when the first likely swing hand appears. I'm East, holding
2 was strong, forcing, and artificial, 2
was waiting, 2NT showed 22-24, 3 was a transfer,
and 4NT was natural and invitational. To bid Blackwood,
responder transfers at the four level (Texas) and bids 4NT.
Partner leads the 3 and everyone stops to take stock.
Declarer wins the K in dummy (I signal encouragement)
and leads the 8. I play the 3 (a Smith Echo).
Declarer plays low and partner shows out, pitching a spade.
Curious. Declarer has AQ1095 and didn't accept a
slam invitation. He must have 20 or 21 HCP. With 22,
he'd probably have bid 6, so I assume he was stretching
already. Declarer continues by running the J and a third
club to his Q. Partner pitches a spade and a diamond.
Declarer then runs the 10 to my J.
I can reconstruct the whole hand now. Declarer has
ace doubleton in hearts. If he had three, he would have bid
differently. In any case, he'll claim shortly if he has three.
Partner pitched the 2 so declarer is 3-2-3-5 exactly.
His high cards are also marked, so the whole hand must be
I think with his hand, I'd've tried 6 over 4NT.
If partner has three clubs, there's a ruff, plus the
hearts may ruff out. If partner is 3-5-3-2, there's still
a reasonable chance that one or both of the long suits
will run. Those rounded tens are big cards. In fact,
I'm sure my teammates will be in slam, probably 6.
I don't like the Hawaiian (5-0) trump break, but upon reflection,
I don't see how 6 can go down, so I suspect we are winning
a lot of IMPs on this board.
In any case, my job is to take the most tricks on defense
on this hand. It's possible that we have lost 19 IMPs on
the other hands, so if I blow an IMP on defense, I could
cost the event. I don't think it's likely, but making
errors while playing double-dummy insults my pride. Back
to 4NT. Declarer has four clubs, three diamonds, two hearts,
and two spades for 11 tricks. Does it matter what I do now?
Yes, it does! If I return a red suit (a club would be silly),
declarer will win, cash the A, the A, then three
diamonds ending in dummy. We will be caught in a non-simultaneous
double squeeze around spades:
On the lead of the last diamond, partner will have to let go
a spade in order to guard hearts. Then the K will finish
me in the black suits. How embarrassing! Fortunately, I can
continue spades to break up the entries for the squeeze. I do.
Declarer asks how hearts are and claims 11 tricks when we tell
him they are 4-2. I've saved a trick, but probably no IMPs.
Note, by the way, the play in the club suit. Running the 8
is the best way to take three finesses without an extra entry.
It turned out that declarer held the J as well; he had
22 HCP after all. Not surprisingly, the auction began the same
at our teammates' table. My teammate bid 6, but as the
partnership had not played together in 20 years, his partner
corrected to 6NT. I don't know how the play went, but I assume
the defense attacked spades as he went down one. Fortunately,
they were not vulnerable, so -460 and -50 only lost 11. My
defense to hold them to five didn't matter even one IMP. Since
we lost "only" 7 IMPs on the rest of the boards, we held on
to win the event by one victory point. It was a close call,
only two IMPs to spare.
Copyright © 2000 Jeff Goldsmith