Back to Basics
Playing in the Life Master pairs, I'm in second seat
with none vulnerable. I hold
AK743 Q1087 AK10 J
RHO passes, so I get to open 1. Partner responds
a forcing notrump, and I bid 2. This isn't quite
good enough for a direct 3, but I plan to bid again if
partner doesn't pass. Surprisingly, LHO chimes in with 2NT,
obviously for the minors. Partner passes, and RHO bids 3.
We play most doubles in positions like this for takeout, but
partner has a theory that if an opponent thinks his hand is
not good enough to enter on the first round of the auction,
he probably doesn't belong there on the second, so our doubles
are penalty when that happens. I've bid two other suits, so
I can't really have a trump stack, but partner expects more
than a singleton, so I'm afraid he'd pass too often if I double.
I really don't want to defend 3 undoubled when they are white;
I expect we have a plus score available in two of a major. If
I can't double, I guess I have to bid 3, the same thing
I would have if they'd passed. I really don't want to do that,
but I've taken long enough that partner will feel constrained
to pass my double. Yuck. Oh, wellI bid 3 and hope
I've not blown it too badly. I wish I'd've just followed my
instincts and doubled in tempo.
Partner shrugs and bids 3, as expected, and everyone
gets off. When I see dummy, I am still not sure if I've done
the right thing.
LHO starts with two high clubs, and I ruff. I can
always generate four trump tricks by ruffing another
club, and I have AK, A outside. So I need two more
tricks from hearts. One will have to be a high card,
and the other should just be a ruff in the short hand.
I'm inclined to play RHO for the J rather than
the K, since LHO bid, but most likely he has
both. The problem with that approach, however, is that
LHO might ruff my heart winner if RHO has four hearts to
the king. But that will be OK as long as he does not
do it with a singleton trump. So I cash the trump ace
and play a heart to the ace and a heart off dummy. RHO
plays low without a flicker, so I continue my plan and
insert the 10. It holds, and LHO follows. That's
good. I can't afford to play another trump yet, so I
continue with the Q, trying to look like someone
with KQ10x. What the heck, LHO might
ruff it with the Q.
After some study, LHO does ruff the Q, but with
a low trump. He gets a scowl from his partner, but it
didn't matter. He exits with a high diamond (rats! If
he had played a club, I'd've made an overtrick!). I
draw one more round of trumps, ruff a heart, and claim
nine tricks for what I assume is a normal 140.
The defenders start at each other. RHO complains that
his partner ruffed his winner, and LHO "suggests" that
if the K was taken, they might take a few more
tricks. Normally, I try not to get involved in such
discussions, but this time I say, "nothing mattered; I was
taking at least nine tricks all the time." I explain that
if RHO wins the K and gives his partner a ruff, I
get to finesse a second time, then win the return, discard
a diamond from dummy on the Q, and ruff a diamond.
They'll get one heart, one ruff, the Q, and the A,
but nothing more. And the ruff of the Q was irrelevant
as long as LHO didn't make the mistake of returning a club. If
he did that, I'd cash a trump, both high diamonds, ruff a heart,
and then make my last trump en passant. When he
returned a diamond, he got back to even, so their defense
essentially didn't matter. It looked pretty dismal, but
it broke even.
As we are going over the hands at dinner, I find that each other
pair with us played the hand in spades, but no one else made
more than eight tricks. One player went so far as to claim
that taking more required a defensive error. I was baffled.
All this hand requires is to ruff a loser in the short hand,
yet several good players didn't see that and relied on the
heart spots for their ninth trick, which doesn't work.
When we come back, I'm curious enough to check the scores
on this board. No one in our section managed +140, and we
got a 90% score for it. How odd. The play does not seem
complicated at all.
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Goldsmith