No Kidding!

Playing in a sectional Swiss, we draw the only other decent team in the first match. We beat them, but only by a little. But thereafter, while we don't give up many IMPs, we don't score many either; the boards are just flat, and they are blitzing ahead of us. We have almost no chance to win, but second is a lock.

In the last match, we draw another very weak team. RHO decides to be rude early on. I doubt that had anything to do with it, but the cards turned interesting and we are slaughtering them when I pick up, white on red

 S:QJ104 H:D:Q4 C:K1087432
I'm in first seat, and while I like to preempt, this hand looks too flawed, so I pass. LHO opens 1D: and partner bids Michaels. RHO chimes it with 2H:. This guy has been out to lunch the whole match, and whether he means it as a cue bid or natural, I don't care and don't ask. In any case, I can bid 4S:. I don't know if it is to make, to save, or whatever. I don't care. All pass. Huh? Maybe I'm going to get a decent dummy for a change! The opening lead is the H:A and believe it or not, dummy has less in high card than I do:
S: 86532
H: KJ432
D: K32
S: QJ104
D: Q4
C: K1087432
4S:All Pass
Nice spots, pard. It's hard to believe I'm not doubled. There is no way I will make this, and it doesn't matter for a host of reasons, so at 50 per trick, I just start playing. I ruff the first trick and try a pseudo-Morton's Fork Coup by leading a small diamond. It seems to LHO that if she doesn't take her ace, the diamond will go away on the H:K, but I'm really short of tricks, and one loser's going away isn't a big deal. But she flies with her D:A anyway. That's good. I'm up seven tricks or so. She shrugs and exits with a diamond, and I win. I ruff a club, cash the H:K, and ruff a heart. Interesting...the H:Q falls on my left. So 2H: was natural. Did I mention, "nice spots, partner?" Yeah, I did. There's not much to do but ruff a club, so I do it. The C:J falls on my left, and it looks as if clubs are 3-3.

I can somewhat reconstruct the hand now. It looks as if LHO is 2353. She has the H:AQ, the D:AJ, and the C:AJ. She must have precisely the S:K. With the S:A, she'd have a 2NT opener. Could she have  S:K H:AQx D:AJxxx C:AQJx? That's 21 HCP, and she'd surely bid something over 4S:. At the least, she'd double. How about no C:A? No, that's a strong NT. Or she falsecarded in clubs without the C:Q...I doubt that. All in all, it looks like the layout is this

S: 865
H: J4
D: K
S: Kx
D: Jxx
C: A
S: Ax
H: 109
D: x
C: Q
C: K1087
Wait a sec...I have a chance to make this! No kidding...checking... I'm going to need a little luck with the trump spots, but if I ruff the low heart before cashing the D:K, LHO can win her trump, but won't be able to hurt me. But if I cash the D:K now, she can overruff the heart and play another diamond. I think that'll get me. So I ruff the low heart, and LHO overruffs with her S:K. She shrugs and plays the C:A. I ruff as RHO follows. Cool. Now I can cash the D:K, leaving this position:
S: 86
H: J
S: x
D: Jx
S: Ax
H: 10
S: J
C: K10
I play my small trump from dummy, and RHO follows low. My S:J holds as LHO contributes the S:9. No way! I have nine tricks in, and there's nothing RHO can do to stop my taking a tenth. In fact, I can claim. Without stating a line of play. Because I can play any card from either hand! It simply doesn't matter which cards I play! I can cash a high club and pitch the winning heart. Then RHO can ruff, and dummy's trump is good. Or I can ruff the winning club. RHO has the choice of overruffing and conceding the last trick to the H:J or not overruffing and conceding the tenth trick right then. How curious.

The result is a fair bit surprising, and I chalk up +420. At the other table, teammates bid and made 4H:. While that contract appears to have only three losers, the Hawaiian (5-0) trump break looks tough to overcome. Maybe RHO was on the right track, after all.

Copyright © 2011 Jeff Goldsmith