Jim Leary's Cat's Grandmother

Bridge players sometimes say, "that contract was so cold that my grandmother would have made it." Probably when the phrase began, said grandmothers had died before Contract was invented, which I suppose is the point. Jim Leary used to say that his cat could have made it, and, of course, his cat had been dead for ten years. This hand is so easy to make that Leary's cat's grandmother would have made it. But I didn't.

Playing in a regional Swiss, we have started slowly, so we need some good results to get back into the hunt. At favorable vulnerability, I pick up a pretty normal strong notrump and get to a routine 4S: contract.

S: AQ10972
H: K
D: 8752
C: 109
S: KJ86
H: J53
D: AQ94
4S:All Pass
The first double was DONT, showing some single-suiter. 4H: was a transfer, and the second double was lead-directing. A heart lead might be bad, but a minor suit lead through my hand might be worse, so I elect to play the game from my side.

I get a not-very-suprising H:10 lead. RHO wins and returns the C:8. It seems likely that clubs is LHO's suit, so I win the C:A and ruff a heart. I cross to hand with a middle spade, and RHO shows out, pitching a low club. As I ruff my last heart, LHO shows out, pitching a club. I draw the last two rounds of trumps ending in dummy. It's time to reconstruct the hand. LHO clearly has six or seven clubs, three spades, and two hearts. He has, therefore, one or two diamonds. I exit with a club to find out which; RHO follows to this. That means LHO has 3-2-2-6 shape exactly. After a little thought, he exits with a club, giving me a ruff and discard. This is the position:

S: 7
D: 8752
S: 8
D: AQ94
I ruff in dummy and discard a diamond. All I need to do to make 4S: is to avoid two diamond losers. The obvious plan is to finesse the D:Q, but LHO has shown up with exactly 4 HCP so far. He is vulnerable, has a moth-eaten suit, and has no singleton. He has to have the D:K; even that makes his intervention a bit on the ridiculous side, but a 4-count seems impossible. So I lead a low diamond and insert the D:9. It loses to the D:10, and another club comes back. I ruff and confidently cash the D:A, picking up a small one and the D:J on my right. I have to lose the last trick for down one.

Not surprisingly, we lose 10 IMPs on this board. We never gain any momentum and slowly fade from the race.

Copyright © 2010 Jeff Goldsmith