Not Garozzo

Playing in a regional flight A pairs, we are having a great session (it will turn out to be 68%). I'm in second seat against stready performers and pick up a strong notrump. The bidding is simple and I see:
S: 92
H: K42
D: KQ4
C: Q10763
S: AK4
H: A763
D: J75
C: A52
The opening lead is the S:Q. Despite 26 HCP and a source of tricks, this hand is not cold. Since I don't expect to score more than ten tricks, I hold up at trick one. LHO continues with another high spade and I win. It seems obvious to attack clubs first, so I cash the C:A. LHO drops the C:K. That's interesting. It'd be a great play sometimes to drop the King from a doubleton, and in this case, it might convince me to attack another suit (it will), but LHO is not Garozzo, so I can assume that it is a true card. If so, I have eight tricks, two in each suit. For now, I need to avoid going down a bunch, so I must knock out the D:A. I play a diamond to the King, which holds. It looks like opening leader has the Ace. I want him to take it right away; I'd prefer not to have three rounds of diamonds played, so I continue with the D:Q from dummy. Surprisingly, RHO wins this (good), and continues with a third spade. It looks as if spades are 5-3, so I shall try to duck a heart to RHO. Maybe hearts are 3-3, so I'll have nine tricks. I lead the H:3 from hand. LHO contributes the H:5. Good! I duck from dummy, and RHO has to win. In practice, he wins the H:J. That looks a little dire; I doubt very much he has three hearts exactly anymore.

RHO pauses only briefly and continues with the H:Q. That looks like an error, but we shall see. At least it means spades are 5-3. It also means I'm going to make the hand. I win in dummy and continue with another heart. RHO now thinks longer and pitches a club. I win the H:A, duck a club (yes, the C:K was singleton) and claim nine tricks. He had no successful play at this point, as the cards were:

H: 4
D: 4
C: Q107
S: 108
H: 109
D: 10
D: 96
C: J98
H: A7
D: J
C: 52
On the heart lead, if he discards a diamond, I can simply cash the D:J and duck a club, endplaying RHO for my ninth trick. Discarding a club makes it simpler; I can duck a club immediately, setting up the suit.

The defense was not perfect, but I can always make the hand if I guess correctly. If the defense continues diamonds, I have to cash two high hearts and duck a club. RHO can cash the thirteenth diamond, but then has to give me a third club trick for my contract. The same can happen if they duck two rounds of diamonds. I don't know if I would have got it right or not if they had made it hard on me, but I might have. At the point at which I thought the heart continuation was an error, I am sure I would have got it right; the fall of the H:QJ strongly suggests the actual lie of the suit.

Copyright © 2001 Jeff Goldsmith