How Many Tricks?

How many tricks do you think declarer will take on this layout?

I am playing in the Spingold and am heavily behind before playing a board. This is in stark contrast to yesterday's match, where we were 12 IMPs up before any of us touched a card. One of the opponents' cell phones went off. We could use about five of those right now.

To my left is an obnoxious but very good young pro; to my right is a client. I have very little (Edgar Kaplan would have said, "no aces, no kings, no singletons, no voids equals nothing"), but am constrained to bid once and buy it there.

S: A983
H: K72
D: AK82
C: 97
S: Q42
H: Q653
D: Q54
C: 832
All Pass
When I asked the first question above to a group of friends, I got answers from six to eleven. Eleven seems a bit much, but I forgot to state that there were no revokes. The median seemed to be about nine, which seems pretty hard to reach to me. Of course, they weren't assuming things had gone badly.

The opening lead is the D:9. I win the D:A and take a club "finesse." RHO wins the C:Q and continues with a second diamond. I win with the D:Q and LHO follows. I probably won't be in my hand very many more times, so I take the opportunity to lead a heart to the H:K. If RHO gets in, she'll probably give her partner a ruff rather than play a trump, and that'll be just fine for me. The H:K holds, so I try clubs again. RHO hops up again, this time with the C:K, and without much thought, gives her partner the expected diamond ruff. This does not bother me at all, as I still have the king for later. LHO cashes the H:A and goes into the tank. Cool. Hearts are 3-3 or there'd be another heart on the table lickety-split. It looks as if LHO is roughly  S:Kxxx H:A10x D:9x C:AJxx. I'm going to make this! I have one spade, three hearts, three diamonds, and a club ruff for eight tricks. I wouldn't have bet on coming close when the hand started.

After a 2-minute delay, LHO exits with a small spade. He has to have the S:K for his opening, right? Checking her hand: that'd give her the S:K, H:J, D:J, and C:KQ at least. Ten points and she might not bid 2C:, particularly with only four of them. I'll play for the overtrick. I duck in dummy, and as expected, my S:Q scores. I ruff a club, cash the D:K and S:A as RHO follows, and claim with two trumps (carefully stating that I know RHO has the last trump).

So the group was more or less on target.

Copyright © 2011 Jeff Goldsmith