The First Board
For some reason, the first round of a tournament often sets the
tone for the whole day. Sometimes, I am not yet concentrating and
suffer a lapse on the first round. The only round worse is the last.
Better discipline would help, I imagine. Or more sleep.
Today, I am playing with a very good partner on a strong team in
an 8-round regional Swiss. As usual, I draw the strongest team
in the field in the first round. I am on a long streak of doing
that. The good news is that this isn't a knockout for a change.
Drawing this team in a KO is a good way to get the evening off.
On the very first board, I am faced with problems. I deal at
favorable and hold
AJ843 Q107 K2 QJ4.
I open 1 and LHO overcalls 2. Partner bids 2,
which we play as fairly strong. RHO raises to 3, and I have
an easy call: 3. LHO is quiet and partner bids 3, which
means he has three spades and five hearts and a game forcing hand.
Even though partner is a masterful player of the dummy, I choose to
play with spades as trump to protect my K from the lead, so
I finish the auction with 4. West leads the Q, and
I see that this hand is not cold.
| 1095 |
| AJ843 |
East wins the first trick with the A and thinks for quite
some time, as do I. I have four potential losers: two spades, one
diamond, and a club. It appears as if the spades are offside, and
the club is onside, since after the A is seen to be in
the East, there are only 9 high-card points left for the vulnerable
overcaller to have without the K. East must have raised on
just a good diamond fit. East eventually returns the 6.
This is odd. Why would he do that? Wanting an entry to dummy, I
play small on this trick and West contributes the seven with a
look of disgust on his face. For a pair of pros, these guys are not
acting very confident. I win the club with the Ten and track the 10.
There's no good reason not to duck this, so I let West win the Queen.
He quickly puts the 3 on the table and I have to decide between
two lines of play. I can take the club finesse and draw trumps or
I can play for a heart discard of my third club. The count suggests
to me that I ought to take the finesse, but these guys' table action
has convinced me otherwise. I am certain that the club finesse is not
working, so I fly with the Ace, cash the trump Ace (nothing good
happens) and play hearts. West ruffs the third heart (uh, oh) and
continues with...a diamond. Good news! I ruff my good diamond,
and cash a fourth heart, shedding my last club and claim the contract.
Every card was offside, yet I still managed to make the hand.
West is not happy with East. His initial salvo begins something like,
``you idiot, can't you shift to a spade like a human being?" Hopefully,
neither will trust the other for the rest of the match, but it was not
to be. They calm down and play very well for the rest of the match,
and we lose the first match 32-2. We shall have to do very well indeed
for the rest of the day to win this event. Almost---we manage second,
although not to this team! I wonder what happened to them.
When I got back to our teammates' table, I hear them discussing this
hand. The ``discussion'' begins ``you moron, can't you shift to a spade
like a human being?" I guess it must have been a difficult hand to
Copyright © 1995 Jeff Goldsmith