Playing in a regional pairs event with a new and strong
partner, we qualify for the barometer final with a tiny
carryover. Going into the last round, we are one-half of
a matchpoint out of first place and a pack is breathing
down our neck. Jill Meyers and Kay Schulle arrive at our
table. The first board is a pretty flat 3NT, but we can
make a minor suit slam and would even get there if they
did not preempt. The last board is this:
| K1065 |
| J2 |
| 873 |
| AQ94 |
Kay, West, leads the J and I draw trumps in three rounds,
ending in dummy, West beginning with a doubleton. On the
third round of spades, West contributes the 5, which,
in their methods, is encouraging in hearts. Being agreeable,
I play a heart to the Jack, which loses to the King. She returns
a heart and I play a third round, East showing out this time and
playing the 5, requesting a club shift. Being agreeable,
I cash the A and play another club. East wins this with the
Jack. West followed with the Nine and Ten on the first two rounds.
After a little thought (half a second is an eternity for this pair,)
Jill exits with the Q. I ruff in dummy, pitching a diamond
from hand while West plays the King. This looks to be a true card,
especially considering the previous spots. I continue with a diamond
to the Queen, which holds, and the 10, which gets the last
small diamond from West.
The whole hand is now known except for two cards. Who has the
A, and who has the J? What clues are there?
How about the bidding? I check their convention card. Voila!
They are playing 10-12 1NT openings. I doublecheck about this and
find that they only play those not vulnerable, otherwise, they play
15-17 and 2 Over 1 Game Force. So much for that. How about the
opening lead? The J is a very dangerous lead. (I always ask
for unsupported trump honor leads, but this time I wish they hadn't.)
This suggests that she had a dangerous holding in the side suits from
which to lead. Jxx and Axx are both terrible leads into a strong
notrump, so that is inconclusive. Additionally, after we have possibly
struggled into game on a 4-4 fit, a trump lead is often best, so I
don't know how much inference I can draw from this. What about the
defense so far? They have defended well, I am afraid, and it would
have been a masterstroke to duck the Q from Axx, but trivial from
Jxx. Grumble. I wish that I did not have this problem with the event
on the line.
Finally, I decide that perhaps West would have bid with an 11-count
and a five-card major, and run the Ten. Wrong. Down one. We end
up fifth. If I play the King, we win the event. Nice defense.
Copyright © 1992 Jeff Goldsmith