For Naught

Playing in a regional Flight A Swiss, we lose the first match when an opponent passed an artificial forcing bid out of confusion. It was very right. Her partner yelled at her for the rest of the match. On the first board of the second match, I hold
 S:Axxxx H:Axx D:xx C:Qxx
LHO deals and opens 5D:. Partner passes, and RHO bids 6D:. They are probably going down, but it seems much more likely they'll make than go down two, so I see no reason to double. And I'd like partner to make his normal lead.

It is the H:Q. Dummy says, "we're probably off two aces," as he puts down

S: K
H: Kxxx
C: AK10xxx
S: Axxxx
H: Axx
D: xx
C: Qxx

This looks good. I wish I had doubled. Declarer plays low, and before I play, I stop to think about the hand. If declarer has eight diamonds, which seems likely, then unless he has three clubs, he'll have all the tricks when he gets on lead. That means I need to give partner count. But if he has five hearts, how does he know whether I have three hearts or two? He won't, and he'll not know I have the S:A. After all, I didn't double, so he will probably try to cash a second heart. That could be a disaster. So after double checking my calculations, I rise with the H:A, knowing that I may blow the second undertrick. But at least we won't let declarer make when he should go down. I suppose declarer could be 0292, but that is far less likely than partner's misguessing at trick two.

Nope. Declarer ruffs, cashes the C:A and ruffs a club high, crosses to a high diamond, ruffs another club high, and crosses to dummy with a trump. Partner shows out. Declarer now has 13 tricks, eight diamonds, four clubs, and the H:K. He goes into the tank. After a minute, I finally interrupt him, "just claim." He thinks for another 20 seconds and claims 12 tricks. He didn't realize his H:K was good. I gnash my teeth, and, holding in my annoyance, I apologize for pressuring him to claim and tell him he made seven for 1390.

Of course, the overtrick is irrelevant; our teammates are in 5D: making six to lose 13 IMPs and the match. It's just not our day.

Copyright © 2010 Jeff Goldsmith