Just in Case

Playing in the national two-day open Swiss, entering the last match, both we and our opponents have already qualified. We are playing for carryover. The opponents have had some rather enterprising auctions and the play has been interesting, but we have had the better of it going into the last hand of the match.

S: Q8
H: A7532
D: 105
C: KQ75
S: 10532
H: K94
D: K984
C: 43
More surprising bidding. Sounds like declarer is 6-6.

Partner leads the C:J, and declarer wins the C:A. That's a pretty good dummy. I don't like my chances. Declarer plays a spade to the dummy's queen and another back to his ace. Partner follows with the S:J9. That's pretty surprising. I have a trump trick. Declarer can't pick up my diamonds, so it looks as if he was overbidding again. That's a big surprise. Declarer cashes the other high trump, pitching a heart from dummy, and partner sheds the C:6. Declarer is obviously not happy at this development. I, on the other hand, think quite highly of it.

Declarer goes into a tank for about two minutes and plays a fourth spade to me. Dummy and partner discard small hearts.

I'm using that tank time, too. Partner's club discard clearly shows at least five cards in the suit, and we play upside-down, so he appers to have exactly five clubs and is encouraging in hearts. It looks pretty clear that declarer has  S:AKxxx H:? D:AQJxx C:Ax. That gives him four spade tricks, one heart, three diamonds with a finesse, and three clubs for eleven tricks. Is there any way he can come to twelve? Yes! If I don't return a heart right now, he has a double squeeze. Partner has to guard clubs, I have to guard diamonds, and neither of us will be able to hold onto hearts. I don't know if this declarer is up to finding the double squeeze, but I don't want to know. Just in case declarer's heart is the queen (I doubt it is—with J1086, partner is likely to have pitched the H:J, not the H:6), I exit with the H:K. My H:9 will cover the suit so that partner can't be squeezed in hearts and clubs.

Declarer grimaces and produces the H:10, so it looks as if he knows that his goose is cooked, but he tries the diamond finesse, hoping the suit is 3-3 with the king onside. It is not to be, and he eventually concedes down one.

Copyright © 2009 Jeff Goldsmith