Playing in the finals of the Life Master Pairs with an experienced but unfamiliar partner, I come to the table of an ex-partner. The first board is uneventful; they reach an easy game and we cash out to prevent overtricks. The second board is more interesting. I am South, with both vulnerable.
S: Q65
H: Q98
D: A94
C: AK103
S: 92
H: K43
D: Q105
C: J8762
S: AKJ1073
H: A10
D: 76
C: Q95
S: 84
H: J7652
D: KJ832
C: 4
1NT was 15-17 (?) and 2D: showed a single-suited hand with one of the majors.

Perhaps it is a bit agressive for me to compete to 3D: in front of partner, but with 5-5 shape and with our side's holding half the high cards, I can hope for a fit or at least not to be doubled. To some extent, my hopes were answered, although partner's alleged 15-17 1NT is a bit thin. I think I would have opened 1C:, intending to rebid 1NT.

In any case, 3H: is not a great contract, and it gets worse after the defense starts with three rounds of spades. I ruff the third one with the H:7. I have life once it holds, although I still need to manage to avoid a third trump loser and a diamond loser. At worst, down one won't be so bad, since 2S: will surely make, but down two will be a very poor score.

There's not much to do but to try to draw trumps. Since I know the location of the H:10, unless West is playing a deep game (in which case, I'm probably dead anyway,) I start with a heart to the Queen. East wins this and goes into a trance. I can't imagine what he's thinking about; my hand is an open book on the bidding, although I really ought to have had better suits. After a long tank, East wins the H:A and continues with a fourth spade.

What's this! It seemed obvious for him to continue trumps, but perhaps he knows that diamonds are running and is trying to set up a trump spot for partner. I don't believe this, but you never know. It won't help me to ruff in hand and discard a diamond from dummy; if I have a diamond loser, East will be able to overruff dummy anyway. So, I discard a winning diamond from hand and ruff in dummy. Since West is known to have at most five major suit cards, perhaps I can put some pressure on him during the run of the trumps, now that I have eight tricks in.

When I ruff, West discards a club. I continue with dummy's last trump and East follows with the H:10. I cover and West wins. He returns a club. I am pretty sure that clubs are breaking 5-3 or better, so I cash a second club, pitching another diamond, and ruff a club, to which both follow. When I cash my last trump, West slams his cards back into the board and very angrily accosts his partner. "You had to squeeze me? If you don't give him an eighth trick, there's no way he can get a ninth." I'm afraid he's right.

+140 turns out to be a very good score, but not enough to salvage our game. A little above average just doesn't quite reach the high overalls. Too bad, but at least this hand was fun.

Jeff Goldsmith,, August 4, 1997