Book Play

Some plays are very common in books but never seem to happen at the table. I don't know if that's because they really are rare or if players just don't find them. The first explanation seems likely for most of the really esoteric squeezes and such, but others seem as if they ought to come up from time to time.

Playing against unknown opponents in a regional Swiss, I am dealt a fairly unusual hand,

 S:AJ986 H:D:AK9543 C:J9
When RHO opens 1D:, I have a minor problem. Having my six-card suit bid by an opponent is not a good thing. If LHO has spades stacked, getting into the auction could prove disastrous, but that seems unduly pessimistic, so I overcall 1S:. Partner cue-bids 2D:, showing a limit raise or better. Unless partner has a real mountain, I don't want to play a slam; I know diamonds are not breaking, so I just bid game. The opening lead is the D:2, and I see
S: Q4
H: AQ32
D: 76
C: K6432
S: AJ986
D: AK9543
C: J9
All Pass
What I really wanted was real trump support; this is not a good time for partner to have stretched. I don't know why he didn't bid 2C:, which we play as forcing; then a preference to spades would communicate his hand and values reasonably well. But that's neither here nor there; my current problem is to make 4S:.

RHO inserts the D:10, and I must win; a club shift is likely to be embarrassing. I need to set up the diamonds, but they appear to be 4-1. I'm going to have to ruff a diamond or I shall lose two diamonds, the C:A, and a trump trick. The problem is that I can't afford to have my D:K ruffed off. The answer seems obvious, I guess, but for some reason, it looks very strange. I just duck a diamond. RHO wins, sees his partner show out, and looks at me a bit strangely. He shrugs and continues with other diamond. I ruff it high in dummy, cash the H:A pitching a club, take the trump finesse, and play two more rounds of trumps. It turns out trumps were 3-3, which is lucky; if LHO had had four, he could have won the third round of trumps, crossed to his partner in clubs, and received a diamond ruff. Anyway, trumps are drawn, so I just claim ten tricks.

Ducking a trick in a suit in which you have control so as to ruff a later trick is a common theme in books, but to the best of my recollection, this is the first time I have seen it at the table. I wonder if that's just because we miss the play when it comes up.

Copyright © 2005 Jeff Goldsmith