Missed Another One

Playing in a regional Swiss against good opposition, I deal and pick up  S:7 H:AK8763 D:42 C:AK53. I open 1H: and partner bids a forcing 1NT. It's IMPs, so I rebid 2C:. (At matchpoints, I'd seriously consider underbidding a little with 2H: just in case partner is about to pass. The major rates to score more than clubs.) Partner takes a preference to 2H:, so I raise to 3H:. He should be able to figure out when game is good, so it's worth the small risk of going minus in 3H: to allow partner an intelligent decision. He passes quickly (uh, oh!), and equally quickly, LHO fires out a small spade. I see
S: AJ32
H: J9
D: J8753
C: 86
S: 7
H: AK8763
D: 42
C: AK53
We play Flannery, which is why partner didn't bid 1S:. But it looks as if we have missed an excellent game here. Who didn't bid enough?

I win the spade and plan to ruff two clubs in dummy. If all goes well, I could make five. So I cash two clubs in hand, and everyone follows. I lead a third club, LHO follows, and partner reaches for the H:9. "Hold it. Ruff high, please." I'm not in game, so I want to make extra sure I make my nine tricks; if RHO has two clubs and H:10x and I ruff low, he can overruff and return a trump and I'll lose five tricks. In practice, RHO follows. (Oh, well.) I ruff a spade, then lead the last club. LHO ruffs with the ten (did I blow a trick?), and exits with the S:K. Yes, he underled S:KQxx for whatever reason. I ruff and draw trumps, which are now 2-2, so I make ten tricks. The safety play didn't cost a trick. Whew.

At the other table, my counterpart bid 4H: after a similar start, 1H:-1S:; 2C:-2H:, and also made ten tricks. Maybe I didn't bid enough. K&R says my hand is worth 19 points, but my sequence seems pretty sensible to me.

Copyright © 2013 Jeff Goldsmith