Several years ago, a frequent partner told me about
a hand he played against Lew Stansby. Lew had a
side suit of Ax opposite Qxx. At trick two, he
led small towards the queen. Partner, with Kxxxx,
ducked, not imagining this position. That was the
key trick, so Lew made an impossible contract.
Tonight, I'm playing a home team game against mixed
opposition. Neither side is vulnerable when
I pick up KJ9 K42 8632 A54. RHO deals
and passes. This isn't up to my opening
standards (too bad a 10-12 NT isn't available), so I pass.
LHO opens 1, partner passes, and RHO bids 1.
I pass again, as does LHO. Partner reopens with a double.
My choices seem to be 2 and 1NT. I suspect we have
the bulk of the high card, so with 4333 shape, I choose 1NT.
Tomorrow, perhaps, I might bid 2. All pass, but RHO
thinks about this for a little while before passing. I suspect
he's not considering doubling; he's either considering bidding
2 or 2. I get the 3 lead and buy a so-so
I play the J from dummy, but RHO covers with the queen.
Looks like he was thinking about 2, not 2. Also,
I think 1NT looks better than 2. 2 has four top
losers, no way to get rid of a second heart loser, and two finesses
to take. I can probably avoid one of the finesses, but it doesn't
look like a favorite. Then again 1NT looks ugly, too. If I guess
spades, I have four spades, one heart, and one club off the top.
I don't have time to set up diamonds before they take at least
three hearts, two diamonds, and a club, probably two clubs, so
I want an alternative. If I have four spade tricks, all I need
is two club tricks. Lew's play comes to mind. Perhaps if I
lead a small club from hand, LHO will duck, imagining that I
have stronger hearts needing to be led through. It's pretty
specious, but it looks like my best chance. By the time they
cash their hearts, maybe I'll have a clue about spades anyway.
So I lead a low club to the queen. It holds. Cool.
Who has the Q? Looks to me like LHO is balanced, therefore
having 12-14 HCP. If RHO was thinking about bidding clubs,
he must have four. Why didn't LHO raise hearts? He must have
only three. If RHO has nine cards in the rounded suits, then
I ought to play LHO for the Q. Is that possible? He could
have Qxxx Axx Axx Kxx. That's 13. Looks about right.
I'm going to play him for the Q. I cross to my hand
with the K and run the J. LHO covers this, so
I win in dummy. No one has contributed the 8, so I
don't know how they break. I can't afford, however, to exit
with a heart; they may take four hearts and three diamonds
before I get back in. So I cash the 10. All follow,
so I claim 7 tricks for +90.
That turned out to be a good result. Our teammates also played
1NT making one for +90.
Copyright © 2002 Jeff Goldsmith