A few years ago I got corralled into playing a midnight Knockout team game when I really wanted to sleep. The bribe was almost sufficient until I found out that if we won, I'd have to do it again the next night. We did win, but fortunately, lost a close match the second night (against the McKenney winner). Happily thinking that this nonsense was over, I found out that the number of teams entered required a playoff for third place in order for a third team to make the overalls. When informed by the powers that be that this match was optional, acceptance was the furthest thing from my mind. It turned out, however, that our opponents-to-be were competing for the McKenney also, and felt strongly about the seven and a half masterpoints available to the winner of our match. I agreed to play under the following conditions: 1) The match was to be held between sessions (right now) 2) It was to be short, say seven boards, and 3) winner pays the entry fees. Their captain readily agreed to these conditions, and since he could only find six boards, shortened the match further. We lost and everyone was happy. The next day, the captain of the opposing team, Grant Baze, came up to one of us and explained that he was so grateful that we were willing to play and that the conditions suited him so well that he had intended to take us out to dinner. Since he was leaving town early that day, he gave one of my teammates $100 to buy dinner for us instead. We decided to spend the money on pizza and ice cream for about 20 students and called the gift, of course, our Pizza Grant. This year, Grant came to the Caltech-UCLA pro-am and I was able to play one hand with him. At IMP scoring, we were defending 1NT on the following hand:
S: Q6
H: J9765
D: A976
C: A3
S: J8754
H: 2
D: KQ83
C: KQ7
S: 93
H: AK104
D: 542
C: J964
S: AK102
H: Q83
D: J10
C: 10852
1S:Pass1NTAll Pass
I found the unimaginative lead of a small club, and the seven held in dummy. Grant won the second club and shifted to hearts. Declarer won this with the Ace and cashed the C:Q. He exited with a spade to his nine and my ten. Not yet knowing about the location of the S:Q or D:9, I continued with the H:Q, since we needed a seventh trick from somewhere as far as I could tell. Declarer happily grabbed this in hand, pitching a diamond from dummy. He then cashed his club trick, pitching the fifth spade, and led a diamond to the Jack, King and Ace. When Grant cashed the H:J, dummy was squeezed. If he pitched a spade, my spades would be good and I could overtake partner's Queen and run the suit. We would get four spades, one heart, and two minor suit aces. Instead, declarer threw a diamond from dummy, so Grant cashed the S:Q and continued with a diamond, forcing dummy to give me the last two tricks with my S:AK. A defensive steppingstone squeeze!
Copyright © 1995 Jeff Goldsmith