Picked 'em Clean

Playing in a regional Flight A Swiss teams, we are leading at halftime with 60 VPs (out of 80). We have a moderate lead and expect to play one of the better teams in the field after dinner.

It's not to happen. We draw a team who is considerably less experienced than we are. My teammates are jubilant; they haven't won a regional event together in about 20 years. Lots individually, but not as partners.

We are having a good set when I pick up  S:653 H:A4 D:Q1086 C:AJ53 at favorable vulnerability. Partner opens 1NT in first chair, which we play as 10-12 HCP. Looks like it will be a boring hand, but perhaps not. RHO overcalls 2D:. I take a second to wait for a possible alert. It's forthcoming, so I ask. "My partner has the majors." We play that a double here shows at least one of the majors nutted; a delayed double shows a good balanced hand. It's penalty-oriented, but typically has exactly three trumps. There doesn't seem to be much danger of their playing 2D:, so I pass in tempo. LHO surprises me. "2NT," she cries. "Alert!" says RHO. Partner asks, and he explains, "ten or more HCP." Presumably that means artificial and forcing. Hmmm... does everyone at the table have ten or more HCP? Partner passes, and RHO bids 3H:. I don't expect he's going to make this, but I don't think the auction is over, so I pass. It's not. LHO leaps to 4S:. Pass, pass, and the ride stops with a double. Our original agreement is helpful here; partner probably can tell that I have a good balanced hand with a little something in the majors, rather than a trump stack.

Evidentally, she remembers this and leads a trump. Good! Dummy hits and I see:

S: AQ94
H: J8632
D: J9
C: 42
S: 653
H: A4
D: Q1086
C: AJ53
Pass PassDblAll Pass
Declarer plays low and wins the S:8 in her hand. I contribute my highest trump to give partner count. She'll feel much better to know I have three trumps. Declarer continues with the H:10. Partner considers this, then wins with the H:Q and plays a second trump. Declarer again wins in her hand to lead a heart towards the table. Partner plays low and declarer inserts the H:8, won by my stiff ace. I get to lead the third round of trumps. This is going to be a total massacre. Declarer no longer has the trumps to set up and cash the fifth heart, as partner has H:K9 left. She's going to get five trump tricks and whatever she can manage in high cards, which looks like very little.

It turns out that declarer's other six HCP (she had four in trumps) are the D:A and the C:Q. The former scores her sixth trick, but we get the rest for sticks and wheels. 1100 on a hand that is likely to be passed out at the other table is sure to be 14 or 15 IMPs.

When we compare with teammates, they say, "we have a couple of pickups." One was a grand slam they defeated which we didn't bid when we determined it to be on a finesse and a little change. Luckily, the finesse lost. The other was this hand. One of my teammates opened 1S: in fourth chair with the lady's ten-count, to "create some action." He was raised to 2S: and on soft defense was allowed to make it for +110. He might as well have passed it out for the same 15 IMPs.

We end up winning the event by one victory point.

Copyright © 2000 Jeff Goldsmith