It's been raining everyday during this tournament, and I've been foolish enough to spend a good deal of time outside. I seem to have caught a cold and I'm running a fever. We are playing in a knockout teams event, and are down 39 at the half, although we are a much better team than they are and we are not playing badly. They have just had a great deal of luck; all their errors have gained heavily for them.

Early in the second half, we have some chances to recover, but I'm feeling a little fuzzy. Both vulnerable, I pick up  S:K743 H:K1098 D:J C:K654. Partner deals and opens 1D: and RHO overcalls 1H:. This is a complex hand, and I start with a negative double to show my four spades. Partner rebids 2C: and I can bid 2NT. It is a little bit of an overbid, but my heart spots appear to be valuable. Partner happily bids the third, and when dummy appears, we seem to have landed in a shaky game. Perhaps raising clubs would have been better after all.

S: Q
H: J5
D: A109832
C: AQJ10
S: K743
H: K1098
D: J
C: K654
A couple of spade spots would make this a much better contract. LHO leads the H:7. I'd like to see RHO play the H:A on this trick, and since I need to unblock hearts, I play the Jack from dummy. RHO thinks for a little while and wins the H:A. This is probably not best for him, but he sees a promising line of defense, so he is eager to pursue it. He cashes the S:A and continues with the S:10. I duck this and win the third spade, pitching diamonds from dummy. Spades appear to be 5-3.

I have eight tricks assuming the heart finesse is on, which is pretty much a sure thing. There doesn't seem to be any simple line for a ninth, but where there's eight there's nine, so let's see if we can figure out how the hidden cards lie. Hearts appear to be 2-5 and spades 5-3. I take a club "finesse" and RHO appears to be starting an echo. If clubs are 3-2, then diamonds are 3-3, and I can't generate a trick in the suit by force. If clubs are 4-1, then diamonds are 2-4, and if LHO has an honor, I can finesse against it and drop it. I can, however, produce a possible elimination. I cash the C:A, and RHO completes an echo. I think (and hope!) that he has 3532 shape. If he is 3523, there's nothing I can do about it unless he has D:KQ alone, so I shall play him for 3532. I take a heart finesse, which holds, both following, and run the D:J. RHO wins and starts thinking. Obviously, he doesn't have another club, so he is endplayed. I show him my cards, and he concedes nine tricks.

The partial elimination is not hard to conceive, but the key play of cashing exactly two clubs before creating tenaces in the red suits is not exactly obvious, and this hand wins us 11 IMPs. That's not enough; we only recover 35 to lose the match by four. I'm not displeased. I'm looking forward to sleeping off this cold.

Jeff Goldsmith, jeff@tintin.jpl.nasa.gov, August 4, 1997