Good Lead

Playing in a regional KO, everyone is vulnerable, and I pick up an unexciting hand.
 S:Q73 H:83 D:AQ1063 C:Q73
Pretty good Chinese Poker hand. Partner, in first chair, opens 1C:, RHO passes, and I bid 1D:. LHO passes, partner bids 1H:, and RHO somewhat surprisingly now bids 1S:. I wonder why RHO didn't bid over 1C: but did over 1H:. I can't think of a good reason, and outguessing opponents on things like this is the way to madness. Anyway, I assume she has some sort of spade overcall, but what now? I suppose I could bid 1NT. That seems a little wimpy, plus my spade stopper isn't exactly robust. I'd really prefer to have the notrump played by partner in case he has S:Kx. If I don't bid NT, what's left? I suppose I could bid 2C:, but what's that going to do for us? OK, I've talked myself into an overbid. I try 3C:. Maybe RHO didn't bid spades the first time because she has AKxx or something. ("Stop! Don't go there!") Anyway, the opponents don't bid anymore, but partner wheels out 3S:. I can't do anything but retreat to 3NT, though not with great conviction.

LHO thinks for about 3 minutes about his opening lead. He finds the S:K. That doesn't look so good until dummy appears.

S: A
H: A942
D: K92
C: K10865
S: Q73
H: 83
D: AQ1063
C: Q73
3S:Pass3NTAll Pass
That looks like a real good lead. For us. Assuming diamonds come home, I have two spades, one heart, and five diamonds. It's easy to generate a club trick, so at trick two, I lead a low club from dummy. RHO shows out, pitching a spade. That's odd. But I'm making a lot of tricks now. LHO wins his C:A and goes back into the tank. He emerges with the S:10. I pitch a heart from dummy, and when RHO overtakes with the jack, I suspect this lead is not from a sequence. I win the S:Q and advance the C:7. After a little thought, this is covered, so I win. I cash the D:K and D:A, and LHO shows out on the second round. This is easy now. I take another club hook, cash the C:K, and run diamonds with a finesse to reach this position:
H: A2
C: 10
S: 7
H: 8
D: 3
On the last diamond, LHO has to keep the C:J, so when he pitches a heart, I pitch dummy's club. RHO knows it's hopeless to pitch a heart, so she tries tossing her S:9, but to no avail. I saw her pitch the S:8 already, so I just cash my spade and claim twelve tricks.

This wasn't such a hard hand to play; all the finesses sort of take themselves, and the defense did more to set up the double squeeze than declarer did, but it was a lot of fun.

Copyright © 2007 Jeff Goldsmith