Can't Win 'Em All
Playing in a sectional Swiss, we've won our first
two matches and are vying for the lead. Halfway
through the third match, partner deals me
A72 8 K4 AQ109753
Partner opens 1, I respond 2, and
he rebids 2NT. We play a 3 rebid is not forcing,
so I try 3. Partner thrumps (he bids 3NT). Am
I worth a try for slam? Partner has shown a balanced
minimum with wastage in hearts, but we open 10-12 NTs,
so partner probably has 13 or 14 HCP. I think it is
worth one try, so I trot out 4. Partner bids 5.
I have no idea what he means by that, but a grand is not in
the picture, so I retreat to 6 which becomes the final
contract. The opening lead is the J and I see:
I still don't know what 5 was, but that's not important.
6 looks adequate, but it's not cold. If I can pick up
the trumps without loss, I'm home. If not, the most likely
chance is the heart finesse.
The first order of business is trumps. I win the diamond in
dummy. With no information, the normal play in clubs is to
finesse the queen, and if it loses, to cash the ace. So I
take the trump finesse. It wins, but on the second round,
LHO shows out, pitching a small spade. I may be able to
generate a squeeze, so I cash the K and exit with a
trump, pitching a heart from dummy. On the second round of
diamonds, LHO contributes the nine. It looks as if he has
J109 alone. When RHO wins his trump trick, he continues with
a low diamond. I ruff, and LHO confirms my opinion of the
diamond suit by playing his ten. Unless they are playing a
very deep game, RHO has the remaining diamond. Of course,
I have unblocked the 8 just in case a beer is lurking.
Good things have happened. If the heart finesse is on, I
don't need to take it, so I might as well try to ruff down
the doubleton king offside. It doesn't come down, so I run
all my trumps, reaching this end position, assuming the
K is onside.
On the last trump, LHO pitches a spade. I'm done with
the Q. Perforce, RHO also pitches a spade. I lead
the 7 to dummy, cross back to the A, and claim
the last trick with the 2 to make my slam. The heart
finesse was winning all the time, but sometimes those extra
chances pay off.
Our teammates led a heart against 3NT played from the other
side. Lickety-split, declarer ran the 8, picked up
the whole suit, and claimed all the tricks. We won 9 IMPs
and the match on the board anyway. Not good enough! Despite
winning all our matches, we ended up second, because another
team won most of their matches by more than we did. Oh, well,
You can't win 'em all...
Copyright © 2003 Jeff Goldsmith