Force de Tour

Playing in an open Swiss with a decent team and outmatched opponents, I pick up:
 S:K653 H:AKJ4 D:10972 C:4
This meets our standards for an opening bid; since we play five card majors, I open 1D:. Partner responds 2C:, which we play does not promise a rebid. I am supposed to rebid my diamonds, but that does not seem right, so I rebid 2NT, which is not forcing, but shows a doubleton club at least. Partner cheerfully bids 3NT, West leads the S:2, and I see that this contract is not cold.
S: AQ9
H: 97
D: 64
C: AJ10653
S: K653
D: 10972
C: 4
If all goes well, I can get, in theory, four spades, three hearts, and two clubs. The technical line requires spades 3-3 or the lead from J10xx, the heart finesse, and honor doubleton or both honors in clubs onside. I also need some sort of blockage in diamonds, or they get four diamonds and a club. All this seems a bit unlikely, so I think I shall play for defensive errors, instead.

First, I play the S:9 from dummy, just in case, but East covers with the Ten and I win in hand. Since I do not want them shifting to diamonds at any time, I must attack them myself. Who knows, perhaps a diamond trick is out there lurking. I cross to the S:Q and float a low diamond. East plays low, and I insert the Ten in tempo. To pause here would be unethical, so I have planned my play in advance. West wins this with the Jack and continues spades, which I am happy to see break 3-3. One hurdle established. Since I now have no technical play at all with the dummy entry removed, I continue diamonds. East hops Ace to play a low heart. Perhaps I should run this around to the Nine, but I do not think that will work, and I still have my hopes to get them to play clubs for me. The heart finesse works giving me eight tricks. I cash the last spade, West pitching a heart, East pitching a club. More diamonds. I continue with the seven, covered with the eight and won with the King. East is 3-4-3-3. It looks as if they have discarded well, purely by accident. I expect him to continue with a heart, which is likely to set me, but he shifts to the C:Q. I doubt that this is good for me, since I need all the tricks but one, but I win the Ace and start cashing hearts. On the third heart, West throws a club and East drops the Queen. I do not know who he thinks he is fooling by this, but perhaps his partner will not be awake. I continue with the H:6, and West is caught in a submarine memory squeeze. Clearly, he does not know if the six is master and since he holds the C:K and the D:Q, he does not know which to keep. Obviously, if the heart is high, I have nine tricks, so it is foolish to worry about it, but in the end he believes the fall of the H:Q, and discards his winning club. East wins the H:8 and disgustedly concedes to my good C:J on the table. No overtricks.

Copyright © 1992 Jeff Goldsmith