Declarer has many weapons to cause his opponents to do the wrong thing. Some plays which fool opponents are well-known and categorized, such as pseudo-squeezes and falsecards. Some don't fall into any category; I like to call those plays "fictions." I'm creating a fictional scenario and hoping that an opponent buys into it.

In second chair, all red at IMPs, RHO opens 1C:, and I hold  S:AQ54 H:KJ1098 D:3 C:1098. I overcall 1H:, LHO passes, partner bids 2H:, and all pass. The opening lead is the C:7 and I see

S: 62
H: 642
D: 1064
C: AKJ64
S: AQ64
H: KJ1098
D: 3
C: 1098
All Pass
The opening lead looks like a singleton, but I can afford a club ruff, and I don't have a lot of dummy entries, so I win and take a spade finesse. It loses, and LHO continues with a small club. I win, of course, and take stock.

LHO has at least six diamonds. He doesn't have four spades, since he surely has enough values for a negative double, which means he's apparently 3262. His diamonds are probably AQ or KJ, or he might have led one or shifted to them instead of playing a second club. With D:AQ and the S:K, I can't imagine he'd pass throughout. But that gives RHO 4333 exactly with about 15 HCP, and he didn't open 1NT. So the S:J or H:Q is in the short hand. I'm inclined to guess that the H:Q is offsides, because LHO didn't balance. If he had  S:KJx H:xx D:KJxxxx C:xx, I think he'd be more likely to bid 3D: than if he had  S:Kxx H:Qx D:KJxxxx C:xx, since the H:Q will pull more weight on defense than on offense.

I can make 2H: even if I lose two trump tricks, provided that I can ruff both my low spades in dummy. I may need the H:7 on my right to avoid a trump promotion at some point, but if I play a trump now, they can stop the spade ruffs. I'm going to need another way back to my hand, too, so I need to get a diamond played before I touch trump. I could lead a diamond now, but I think that if I play a club, RHO will attack diamonds. If I play diamonds, he'll almost certainly attack trumps, which I don't want to have happen. So I exit with a club. After a little thought, RHO plays the D:A and the D:Q. I ruff with the H:9, preserving the eight.

Next, I cash the S:A and ruff a spade. Both follow, and the S:J doesn't appear. So RHO is roughly  S:J10xx H:??? D:AQx C:Qxx. He has to have H:Axx. With AQx, he'd open a strong notrump; without the H:A, he'd probably pass as dealer. That means I'm cold now. Even if LHO has H:Q7 tight, all he can do is ruff the fourth spade and play a diamond. His partner can ruff high, but he's down to all trumps, so I can drop the H:Q. Check? Check.

I ruff a diamond with the H:10 and play the fourth spade. LHO ruffs with the H:7. And plays the H:5! What's this? RHO downgraded his 15-count. Uh, oh. I'm doomed now. The position is

H: 64
C: J
H: 5
H: AQ3
H: KJ8
There's one chance left. My order of the trump spots may have left some doubt in RHO's mind about my exact trump holding. I go up with dummy's H:6, trying to look like a man who has a trump smaller than the H:6. If that's the case, RHO's only hope is to win the H:A and play a small one, giving me the problem to judge whether he opened 1C: with a 4243 13-count or a 4333 15. That's not hard, but RHO doesn't have much time, and if he's not been keeping keen track, he might get this wrong.

He does! In a flash, he flies with the H:A and continues with a low one. I hook and make my contract.

Nearly the same problem arrises for RHO if his partner exits with a diamond. I ruff hight in dummy, making RHO think that I'm about to underruff and pick up his trumps. That's sort of a pseudo-underuffing grand coup, except that dummy has a trump left, not that it needs one.

At the other table, RHO opened 1NT, LHO transfered to diamonds, and our teammates were +110 to win six IMPs.

Copyright © 2011 Jeff Goldsmith