Playing in a regional knockout, we are in a three-way match
against a very good team and a not-so-good team. We start
against the weak team, and things are off to a bad start. I
"steal" the board for -150 against their game. Or at least
they would have had a game if either our suit had not broken
2-2 or their key finesse had worked. Luckily, it was white,
so I pencil in lose five. Then we diagonose that our heart
stopper for 3NT is 10xx vs. xx and stop in 4. Soft defense
lets us make overtricks (everyone knew we didn't have any cards in
hearts, yet they didn't lead the suit...at either table), and, of course,
it turns out that hearts were 4-4 and the Q was onside. This
one was red, so this is a sure lose ten. But they miss
an easy red game and let partner steal a partscore, so we're
back up to even.
No one vulnerable, partner deals and I hold
10864 AJ862 98 J3
Partner opens a 12-14 NT. I'm about to embark on Garbage
Stayman when RHO does it first. He overcalls 2 for
the majors. That shuts me up in a hurry. Things get even better.
LHO bids 2, and everyone (especially yours truly) is content.
Partner finds a small trump lead (rah!) and I see
Declarer plays the K from dummy.
Partner's lead suggests he has some spade cards. Since
I strongly suspect declarer to have only two hearts, he
is also short in spades. He has to have an entry, so if
I duck this, he'll cross to hand, take a spade finesse,
and ruff a spade. On the other hand, if I win this and
return a trump, he'll make his 9 anyway (or worse
if I return the J). I think I'll be better placed
by ducking now and leaving a trump in partner's hand, so
As expected, declarer crosses to the K, takes a
winning spade finesse, cashes the A, and ruffs a
spade with the 9. I drop the 10 on the
third round of spades, and partner drops the K.
Declarer plays a diamond to the ace and a small diamond
off dummy. The hand is more or less an open book now,
so let's reconstruct it. Partner's spades were KJx. His
hearts were two small. If he had either the AK or
KQ, he probably would have led them, so he has
the AQ. He needs the Q to get to 12 HCP,
and he probably has the J as well or declarer
may have considered taking a diamond finesse. I don't
know the minor suit shapes, but it doesn't matter; the
hand is roughly as follows, and I know we can get the
I have no losers left, but having more trumps than dummy
is a liability, so I ruff partner's winning
diamond. He looks a little confused, but the light dawns
when I cash the 8. Now I shift to the 3.
Not the JI don't want declarer to duck and
for partner carelessly to let me win the trick. Partner
wins the Q and plays a trump. I win and play
back my club. Declarer is good enough to duck that,
but partner is playing double-dummy now, too, so he
wins the A, and I claim the last two tricks
with high trumps over dummy. Down two for all of 100
Having to ruff partner's winner makes this a Grand Coup.
They come up from time to time, but this is the first one
I've had on defense.
It turns out that winning the first trick would have been
better, but that wasn't obvious, and this was fun.
As expected, this was a small gain. The second half goes
well, and we beat this team handily. Unfortunately, they
beat the good team by enough that we are out on quotient.
This is not my lucky day. The good team came by to apologize
for losing their other match. They even managed mostly to
suppress a grin.
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Goldsmith