A Claimer

Playing IMPs where overtricks do not count, I'm at favorable vulnerability in first seat and deal myself
 S:AKJ1072 H:J10 D:C:J10952
I'm sure the fellow at the other table will open 4S:, and that's reasonable enough, so I do. LHO passes and partner bids 5S:. I have no idea what he is asking about, but I suspect that whatever it is, I don't have it, so I pass.

LHO leads the D:K and dummy hits.

S: 654
H: AKQ932
D: 10832
S: AKJ1072
H: J10
C: J10952
I still don't know what 5S: is all about, but it looks as if we have underbid this one. I ruff the first trick and take stock. If trumps are 2-2 or the queen is singleton, I have 13 easy tricks. If trumps are 3-1, I can just draw two rounds and go about my business and make 12 tricks. But overtricks don't count, so what if trumps are 4-0? If I cash a high trump and continue with a middle one, LHO (assuming he has four) can duck. Then I'm going down unless clubs are blocked or something friendly happens. So I need to play a middle trump immediately. Will that work? Looks like it, and the only danger is 5-0 hearts, and even then, I'm probably OK. Maybe LHO will duck with Qx or Qxx if I start the 10, so I do. It holds as RHO shows out. Cool. 11 juicy ones, I hope. Carefully, I play the S:J next. LHO has to win and I can claim thereafter. +450.

At the other table, declarer played it better than I did. He was only in 4S: (no surprise), but his opponent found the killing heart lead. Even one round of trumps is fatal now. Declarer didn't need to worry about that. He just claimed 10 tricks, the opponents accepted, and everyone went on to the next hand.

Copyright © 2009 Jeff Goldsmith