Off to a Good Start

Playing a sectional Swiss, on the very first board, I hold a hand of some interest. Partner deals me
 S:K1098764 H:103 D:10 C:Q109
I note that I can't keep both the four tens and the straight flush at Chinese Poker while partner opens 1H:. I bid 1S:, and LHO overcalls 2C:. Partner bids 2D:. We play flexible support doubles, but partner is very likely to double here if he has three of them rather than bid 2D:. My hand was promising for awhile, but now I can do no more than retreat to 2S:. LHO contests with 3C:, and partner supports me to 3S:. That's just what I wanted to hear; my hand improves drastically with support, so I bid game. We're not vulnerable, but we ought to have reasonable play for ten tricks.

LHO leads the C:A and I see:

S: Q3
H: K8752
D: AK53
C: K2
S: K1098764
H: 103
D: 10
C: Q109
All Pass
On the C:A, I play small from dummy and RHO contributes the C:J. I follow with the C:9, but LHO continues the suit anyway. I win in dummy, RHO fortunately follows, and I drop the C:Q. Maybe LHO will think his partner has C:J10x.

It looks as if we have bid aggressively; we have three aces to lose, I have to find the trump jack, there's a potential heart finesse, and I have to worry about a third-round club ruff. What's the biggest danger? With clubs 6-2, I think the biggest danger on the hand is that LHO will win the S:A and give his partner a trump promotion with S:Jxx. Is this more of a problem than the possibility of the H:A's being offside? It's a tough call, but I think the H:A is onside for two reasons. One, RHO wouldn't be so fast to high-low in clubs if he had the H:A, fearing it might go away on diamonds, and two, LHO has bid to 3C: on a moth-eaten six-card suit. I'm pretty sure he has all three aces.

I have made my decision. I continue with two high diamonds, discarding my club winner, and ruff a diamond, as all follow. I continue with a small trump. LHO flies with the ace, probably a singleton, and continues with another diamond. RHO follows and I ruff. One minor trap is left. LHO is almost certain to be 1246, so I can't cash the S:K; instead I must lead a heart up now. I do; I play a heart towards the H:K. LHO wins the ace and continues another club. I ruff in hand, and cross to the S:Q in dummy as LHO shows out. The rest is easy: cash the heart, ruff a heart, draw trumps and claim, making four, +420.

The rest of the match is interesting, but we win it on this board. At the other table, they also reached game(!), but didn't find the sequence of plays to make. The ten IMPs we gained won the match.

We continue to win all our matches; the first one was one of the smaller wins. Last week, we won all 7 matches, but not by enough; we ended up 2nd. This time, we have the event sewn up before the 7th match starts. Just to make it fourteen matches in a row, we nearly blitz the opponents in the last match. This is the first time I've ever won a Swiss before the 7th match. I have won them several times before the 8th match starts, but never after six out of seven. It's amazing how often a good result on the first board leads to a good day.

Copyright © 2003 Jeff Goldsmith