Gambit Accepted

In bridge, a gambit is a play in which one loses a trick unnecessarily (my partners claim I'm very good at that!), in order to gain more than one trick in exchange (but not so good at that part!). They are very rare plays. The only time I've successfully performed one was for zero matchpoints. I played the hand great, but we were so much too high (and doubled), that nothing could help our score.

Playing in the finals of the Life Master Pairs, it looks as if I have found a second one. But there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.

In fourth chair, I pick up a fair duke.

 S:H:AJ87 D:AKQJ10 C:A1095
This hand is not going to be easy to bid, and it gets even harder when RHO opens 3H: in third chair. I guess it is not so hard after all; there's nothing to do but bid 3NT. OK, not hard, but not very accurate, either. LHO passes, and partner goes into the tank. I suspect he's trying to remember our methods here. Oddly, we play that 4D: is a transfer to spades (that's probably silly), and 4H: is not defined. After a minute or so, partner bids the not unexpected 4H:. That has to be a transfer to spades, regardless of agreement. I'm not having any of that, so I bid 4NT. That's not a superaccept or Blackwood, but a "fahgeddaboutit" bid. High level notrump overcalls can often be offshape, so rebidding notrump utterly rejects the transfer. If partner wants to play opposite a small singleton or void, he can try again, but that's his problem. Anyway, after a fair bit more thought, partner passes. The opening lead is Roberto (the C:2), and as partner displays the dummy, he says, "that's your suit!" Not exactly.
S: AKQ103
H: 632
D: 98742
H: AJ87
C: A1095
All Pass
I wish I were in 6D: or even 7D: from my side, but if I can't bid my 150 honors, why am I thinking partner might have bid his five small?

Anyway, 4NT is not much of a contract. I have seven tricks. But if I could get to dummy...

I pitch a useless heart from dummy and win RHO's C:J with the C:A. I note that they play fourth-best leads, so if that is honest, RHO is 6-5! Or at least I assume he has six hearts. After all, his partner didn't lead them. There's nothing to do for now but run the diamonds. RHO shows out on the first diamond trick and pitches four small clubs(!) and a heart. LHO easily lets go of two spades. I have to admit that I've not been paying enough attention; I don't know which clubs LHO has left, but I hope none are below the five. I'd like to cash the H:A to put pressure on LHO, but I really need to keep my hearts intact for an endgame against RHO, so I exit with the C:10. As expected, LHO wins the queen, and RHO pitches a heart. LHO shrugs and cashes her other high club, and I unblock the C:9, hoping to leave her on lead so that she has to play a spade to dummy. She seems a little surprised to see the C:9 drop, so she cashes her other club, the four. Argh! Why could not RHO have been dealt that card! I calmly win the trick with the five, planning to exit with a small heart to RHO to endplay him for down one, when LHO says, "too bad, I have nothing but spades left," and thinking she won the club trick, flips the S:7 on the table! I hasten to accept the lead out of turn and claim the remainder. Sometimes a gambit works even when it doesn't.

Copyright © 2009 Jeff Goldsmith