A Minor Goal

For a few years, I've had the minor ambition of scoring 100 masterpoints at a regional tournament. I've come close, but not quite reached that mark. This year, in Reno, I'm at 94 and change going into the last day's Swiss teams. We need to finish fifth or better for me to reach 100. We were third at the break, but suffered a reversal in the fifth match, and are now back in the pack. Since there are only seven matches today, we need to win both remaining matches. Nothing much has occurred in the sixth match, when at unfavorable vulnerability, I am dealt
 S:AK93 H:AQ10984 D:3 C:83.
I am third to speak. Partner passes and RHO opens 3NT. No skip bid warning, no alert. I wait about ten seconds, then ask if 3NT is 25-27 balanced. "No, of course not, it's a solid suit with no outside Aces or Kings." We play Ripstra in this position, but I'm sure my partner doesn't remember this agreement, so I try 4H:. LHO passes quickly and partner huddles. And huddles. And huddles. Out comes 6H:! That's a surprise; a non-opening bid can raise a pressured overcall to slam? Perhaps she has a club void and the D:A so she knows that RHO has clubs. That'd make her 4450 probably or she'd've opened. Could happen. While I'm contemplating this, RHO doubles. I'm certainly not running to 7H:, and redoubling seems wrong, so I pass, as does everyone else. I await the lead and dummy with some trepidation.

LHO finds the lead of the beer card (the D:7), and I see this layout:

S: 6
H: KJ62
D: 106
C: AQ9652
S: AK93
H: AQ10984
D: 3
C: 83

Partner's leap to slam was rather bold. Other adjectives might be more appropriate, but less complimentary. She remarks, "I didn't know how to make a slam try." 5H: wouldn't do? 6H: is a good contract, however, and it deserves more attention than I am paying it, so I shift gears and concentrate.

What's going on? Obviously, RHO's suit is diamonds. He must have a void somewhere, probably in clubs. The danger on this hand is a club ruff; we are lucky to have escaped a club lead. To avoid any problems, I carefully cover the opening lead. I don't want him to be able to play the D:2 on this trick. He wins the D:J and shrugs and continues with another diamond. I ruff high, draw trumps, and take the marked club finesse. RHO shows out as expected.

While the opponents argue about the lead, I write down 1660 happily. That has to be a good result.

After the match, I find that our teammates are +100 on the board. Surely they mean +200, so I inquire. My teammate sheepishly admits that he didn't double 6H:, but he played the D:2 under the uncovered beer lead, so his partner found the club shift. I mention that this nice play was unavailable at my table.

18 IMPs wins the match big enough that we are back in contention. We win the last match by a little and manage second overall. That's enough to achieve my goal. I've had a great week.

Jeff Goldsmith, jeff@tintin.jpl.nasa.gov, Jan. 2nd, 1998