Just Another Push

Playing in the first round of a regional Swiss, I get dealt a pretty good hand.
S: Q7
H: J93
D: J94
C: KQ1087
S: A82
H: AK108
D: 52
C: AJ93
The bidding is uneventful, but the final contract is far from cold. The opening lead of the D:3 is good news and bad news. The bad news is that they have found my weak spot immediately. The good news is that diamonds appear to be 4-4.

RHO wins the D:K and returns the D:6 to his partner's queen. LHO cashes the D:A and leads his fourth diamond to RHO's D:10. I have discarded one heart from dummy and two clubs from my hand.

RHO continues with a small heart. I could finesse now, but there's no rush. I win the H:A, unblocking the H:J from dummy, cash the S:A (a Vienna Coup), and run the clubs. Nothing exciting happens, so we come down to

S: Q
H: 9
H: A10
Now I can either finesse the H:10 or play someone for having been squeezed by starting with the S:K and H:Q. Which shall I try? I think it is pretty clear to drop the H:Q. RHO didn't know I have the H:10, so he'd surely not play a heart away from the queen unless he was going to be squeezed anyway. I lead a heart to my H:A and win the last two tricks; LHO started with both the S:K and the H:Q.

When we return to our teammates to compare scores, they seem pretty happy. They say they were very good except that they let a game make on the last board by leading a heart. Obviously, they mean this hand (why didn't my opponent lead a heart from Qxxx instead of a diamond from AQxx?), so I reply, "I got a diamond lead, but it is just another push."

The defense could have beaten 3NT by shifting to a spade at trick two. That is far from obvious. I didn't play the D:J from dummy at trick one, so once RHO played a second diamond, they no longer had any chance to prevail.

Copyright © 2006 Jeff Goldsmith