In Earnest

We were in Memphis. It had already become humid and the ACBL had invited Caltech to play for the Intercollegiate Bridge Championship, while, down the road, the real fight was happening, the fight to select the United States bridge team. It was the first session and we were playing against RPI, my alma mater and the co-favorites with us, when I dealt this hand, a good one, but not the kind of hand that lends itself to action, at least not at first.
 S:AQJ52 H:J542 D:--- C:10762
I had to pass and leave the fight to the others, though I hoped to get in it again someday and fully expected them to be waiting for me.

``1NT,'' LHO said.

``How many?"

``10-13,'' he answered.

When the board got back to me, partner had passed and RHO had bid 2C:.


I chose not to act, and was happy about it when LHO bid 2S:. Partner passed and RHO bid 2NT, which was too high for me. Evidently, it was too high for all of us, and we played there.

Partner led the H:3. Looking restless, dummy placed his hand on the table. I liked the looks of that one. I'd've bid 3NT and hoped to make a vulnerable game, something worth the effort.

S: K9
H: Q86
D: KQ10753
C: K3
S: AQJ52
H: J542
D: ---
C: 10762
Declarer played low. But not without a bit of thought. He played as if he thought he were being fooled, and he was. I played the Jack and it won. What is going on? Partner must have the H:AK and declarer has gone wrong at trick one. We can beat this hand. We have four heart tricks and three spade tricks, but we have to take them. And take them fast, because diamonds will run since partner can't have that Ace. Will it be that easy? No. Partner can't tell what to do after he wins four heart tricks and I have to help him. I do. I play the H:5, and play the Four under his third heart. When I played the 2 under partner's fourth heart, he sat up and looked around; they were all watching him. He smiled. The S:10 hit the brown table with the confidence of a young man in Paris. He had read my heart card order as suit-preference, what he needed to know. It worked. We had seven tricks before they did and we scored 200.

Our teammates came back, scorecard clutched in hand, worrying that there was little chance that we would triumph. On this hand, they won 660 for our side by reaching 3NT from our dummy's point of view. The defense had the cards to prevail, but they couldn't find their way. 860 was 13 IMPs on the way to a first-round lead in Memphis in May. It would not be enough.

Copyright © 1992 Jeff Goldsmith