Oh, Cool!

Playing in an open pairs at a regional tournament, I get dealt my usual:
 S:10976 H:985 D:K76 C:J53.
This isn't the sort of hand which helps one win pairs events, but it could be worse. RHO deals and passes, as do I and LHO. Sadly, but not surprisingly, partner opens 1D: in fourth chair. RHO overcalls 2C:, and I get to pass. For now. LHO passes and partner, of course, reopens with a double. That leaves me with a problem. My choices seem to be 2S: and 2D:. Partner probably has diamonds, but I really don't want to be in a 3-3 fit, so I try 2S:. This has the additional benefit of concealing my weakness. Perhaps the opponents will not be able to defend well not knowing their combined assets. If I am to get doubled, however, I'd rather be in 2D: so that I could run to spades. Since partner rates to have a very good hand, however, the lash seems unlikely. I'm more afraid of partner's bidding again.

Not this time. LHO doubles very quickly. Perhaps I ought not have deliberated between my choices, but bid 2S: more confidently. Oh, well. She leads the C:4 and I see:

S: A43
H: AQ64
D: AJ109
C: 96
S: 10976
H: 985
D: K76
C: J53

DblAll Pass
I don't know why partner didn't open 1NT, but this isn't the time to worry about it. And 1NT rates not to do so well, either. It'll take guessing diamonds (there's really only one way) and the heart hook. That seems unlikely, but possible.

In 2S: doubled, East wins the first trick with the C:A and continues with the C:7. I'd like a red suit shift, so I play the C:5 and C:J under the first two tricks. West wins the second trick with the C:K and shifts to the H:2. It looks like East has AQxxx and West Kxx. The double places the spade honors on my left, so East should have one of the H:K and D:Q, but probably not both. If LHO were an expert, I'd consider ducking the heart to my nine, but few players would consider playing low from the J-10, so that probably won't work. Having an exit card might be helpful, too, so I try the H:Q, though without much hope. It loses to the king and a heart comes back. Neither defender knows who has the C:3, so I win the H:A and continue a third round, figuring they'll probably play diamonds or a fourth round of hearts. Hearts turn out to be 3-3 (she DID lead low from J102, rats!) and West considers her next play. She eventually exits with a diamond, dummy's D:J winning the trick. Diamonds look to be 3-3, too, now, as each defender played a low one. That makes spades 4-2 only. I think I see a plan.

I cross to the D:K and ruff my third club in dummy. The D:A stands up, so East is known to be 2-3-3-5 exactly. I don't have any real choice but to continue with a red winner. East ruffs this with the S:8. I'm glad he has that card. I overruff and get overruffed with the queen. That may or may not be a true card, but when West exits with a small trump (by force—a high one is hopeless), I exclaim, "oh, cool. I've never seen one of these before," and play low from dummy. East wins the S:J and I claim the last two tricks on my first smother play. The position was:

S: A4
D: 10
S: K52
S: J
C: Q2
S: 1076
East has to play a club and I ruff low. If West overruffs, I overruff with the S:A and win the last trick with my high trump. If he underruffs, I win the last trick with the trump ace.

Even though I could have felled the S:J by playing high at trick 11, that wasn't the right play. West could have held S:KQJ2, in which case, my spot would have won the trick.

I manage to get out for down one, -100. That doesn't look like a good score, but it turns out that with the red suit honors where they are, 1NT was going down two or more across the room and -100 was slightly above average!

Copyright © 2001 Jeff Goldsmith