A Greek Gift

Sometimes nothing you can do will allow you to make a trick, but often it is possible to enlist the enemy. I once knew an opponent nicknamed ``Endplay Joe,'' because he frequently found the only line for declarer to make an extra trick. Not putting him on lead when there was a chance to go wrong was tantamount to giving up an extra chance.

Playing in a local duplicate against unimaginative opposition, I held the South hand and jumped to 3NT opposite partner's Flannery opening bid.

S: AK103
H: A9863
D: 63
C: 43
S: 6
H: 104
D: AQJ1082
C: AK52
(2D: = Flannery: 4S:+5H:+11-15 HCP)

West leads the S:4. Since dummy is known to have four spades, it is very likely that she has both the Queen and Jack, so I might well insert the Ten, but if it were to lose and a heart come back, the two hands would be severed, making the play not much fun, so I win the King at trick one. Obviously, I need to go after diamonds, and since I hope the finesse loses (I'll have ten top tricks then, but a problem if it wins. Do I repeat it?) I play a low diamond to the Queen. Happily, West wins the King and fires back the S:Q. Oh, well, I should have finessed at trick one; I'd be playing for six now. I have ten top tricks, though, and they have one. The only realistic chance I see for an eleventh is a squeeze. If someone has sole control of either rounded suit, I have some squeeze if I can read the discards. The problem is to rectify the count. I need to duck a trick, but which? If I duck a club or a heart, they can cash a spade, holding me to ten tricks. What about ducking this trick? If I duck it, dummy will remain with a major tenace and West will not continue the suit. If she continues with a club, I might be OK, but she will probably switch to a heart, which will mess things up. What can I do about this? Aha! I have the answer. I play the spade Ten under West's Queen and let her hold the trick, discarding a club from hand. She looks at this suspiciously, as well she might, but shrugs and continues spades. After all, it sets up her suit.

On the run of the diamonds, West shows up with four (!) and East high-lows in hearts. On the fifth diamond, West throws a spade and on the sixth the H:Q. When I cross to the H:A, she squirms a minute and pitches a club. Since East has the H:K left and West has the S:J, I can claim with three good clubs in my hand. Making five for a very good matchpoint score. It would have been much easier if I had just hooked the spade Ten at trick one. Heck, I could have made six.

Even though the defender could not expect to see the squeeze so early in the hand (my bidding was not very revealing) she ought to get this one right via a simple logical inference. Obviously, she would not continue spades if I did not play the Ten. Therefore, I must want her to continue spades for some reason. If it is good for me, it is bad for her, so she must do something else. A little thought would have led to the heart {shift}.

Copyright © 1995 Jeff Goldsmith