Matchpoints and Beer

Playing in the first session of a two-session regional pair game, I have a very good, but quirky hand,  S:K H:A D:Q987 C:AKQJ543. Being in fourth position isn't going to make this hand any easier, but to my surprise, it goes three passes to me. I could just open 3NT, but after three passes, I don't think preemption is critical, so I open 1C:. LHO overcalls 1H:, partner bids 1S:, and RHO raises to 2H:. A scientific 3D: might get us to a slam, but it is even more likely to get us past 3NT, and at matchpoints, that can be a disaster, so I just bid 3NT.

Everyone subsides, LHO leads the D:3, and I see

S: A10954
H: J104
D: A5
C: 1076
S: K
H: A
D: Q987
C: AKQJ543
Pass Pass Pass 1C:
1H: 1S: 2H: 3NT
All Pass
Oh, well. 6C: looks cold. Even if diamonds are 5-2 and clubs 0-3, that lovely C:10 in dummy will allow me to ruff a diamond high for 12 tricks. Ought I have bid more? How about partner? Beats me. But I'm in 3NT, which is where I suspect most of the field will be. I see no reason not to duck Trick 1, and RHO inserts the D:J, which I win and take stock. I have seven clubs, two spades, one heart, and two diamonds. That's 12 tricks; is there any chance of a 13th? It looks like LHO has the other top diamonds, so if he has the two top hearts, there might be a squeeze. That doesn't leave RHO much for his raise. The spades may produce a squeeze menace if they are 5-2, which could easily happen since LHO is probably at least 5-4 in the reds. I don't see anything useful to do with the spades, so I think I need to hope for LHO's having both top hearts.

I unblock the S:K and cross to the C:10. On the S:A, I pitch the D:9 (a curse avoidance and beer conservation play), and LHO drops the S:J. There's nothing to do but run the clubs. I do and come down to

S: 10
H: J10
D: A
C: ---
S: ---
H: A
D: 87
C: 3
LHO had one club and pitched the D:2, so it looks as if he was 2-5-5-1 and is about to be criss-cross squeezed on the last club. He thinks for a little while and tosses the D:K with a resigned air, so I lead the D:8 to the ace, cross back to the H:A, and triumphantly face the beer card for Trick 13.

Despite our missing a laydown slam, +520 scores very well, because nearly none of the field got to six. The overtrick was worth nearly a half board. And a beer.

Copyright © 2012 Jeff Goldsmith