Playing in a midnight swiss teams with a new, but strong, partner and woeful teammates, I pick up
 S:A H:K943 D:A765 C:AQJ3
Partner opens 1D:, I respond 1H:, and he raises to 2H:. I would like to bid 3S:, a splinter bid, but partner is not fond of artificial bids when a natural one will do, so I foolishly jump to 6H:. This goes down, but in the post-mortem I correct to 6NT, buy this dummy, and have a play problem:
S: KQ9
H: AJ72
D: Q432
C: 97
S: A
H: K943
D: A765
West leads a small spade and I find that I am in a bad contract. I have three spade tricks, two heart tricks, one diamond, and one club for a total of seven. Even if I bring in the hearts and the club hook is on, that is only eleven tricks, so I need either a diamond trick or a squeeze. I need to either rectify the count or play for a club-diamond strip squeeze, which, while possible, seems unlikely. It must be right to duck a diamond now, which will rectify the count and maybe even acquire my twelfth trick. If East has four clubs and the diamond King, ducking in both hands will work to rectify the count for a simple squeeze instead of the strip-squeeze, and I might drop the D:K doubleton, or West might rise with it.

I win the spade and play a low diamond. West flinches (this is a zip swiss, after all, and we have already lost a match) and hops up with the King. She exits with a spade, which I win, pitching a diamond. I take this opportunity to finesse clubs, which I am happy to see win, and cash the D:A. All follow, so I have eleven tricks without hearts. Given the quality of the defenders, running my tricks now is a huge favorite, so I am not willing to try the heart hook. After a few rounds of diamonds and spades, East is clearly under pressure and gives up a club, alleviating the need for a trick twelve decision which I would be sure to get right.

Now if only I had been able to impress partner with this at the table instead of the post-mortem....

Copyright © 1995 Jeff Goldsmith