Just as I was falling asleep one night, a hand from Jimmy Kauder's Creative Card Play, aka The Bridge Philosopher spurred a strange and devious thought. Kauder's book, by the way, is spectacular.
S: AQJ103
H: 932
D: 96
C: 983
S: K72
H: AK54
D: 754
C: 642
I am sitting (sleeping?) East and the opponents hop to game. Declarer is a well-known professional, one of the best; dummy is immaterial. Partner leads the H:J, which I win, picking up declarer's Queen. I cash a second high heart and everyone follows.

The hand is counted out, now. Declarer should be 1-2-5-5. If partner has a minor suit King, we have this beaten, but can I beat this hand if he has less? Maybe, by a terrific swindle.

Let's imagine that I had C:Jxxx. Could I beat it then? If I return a heart, declarer will ruff and draw two rounds of trump, partner outshowing on the second round. He'll then cross to dummy with the S:A and hook back and claim if his diamonds are as good as AKQ, which they almost certainly are. To avert that, I can return a spade, taking out dummy's entry before trumps are tested. The problem with that play is that it is entirely too suspicious. Declarer is easily good enough to figure out why I played a spade into the AQ and take a first round club hook.

Therefore, if I do that without the C:J, maybe declarer will work it out and take the club hook, losing to partner's Jack. Imagine the look of surprise on partner's face to take that trick!

So I return a spade into dummy. Without a sideways glance, declarer draws trumps, dropping partner's doubleton Jack smoothly, and claims. Oh well, maybe it was a nightmare after all.

Copyright © 1993 Jeff Goldsmith