Play it, Sam

Our eponymous ex-columnist Sam Dinkin recently played in the trials to select the United States' World Junior Team. It was a three-day event held in Toronto during the end of July. Due to an amalgam of circumstance, he and his partner, Mike Shuster of UCLA were the third-place American finisher, conferring upon them selection to the team. Their success was greatly aided by this grand slam.

Non-vulnerable at IMP pairs:

S: AK93
H: AKJ84
D: 75
C: 32
S: 4
H: 96532
D: J82
C: KJ84
S: QJ8652
H: Q107
D: 63
C: 105
S: 107
H: ---
D: AKQ1094
C: AQ976
The bidding started naturally, with Mike overbidding his hand by a bit. 3C: was Fourth Suit Forcing and artificial and did not show clubs, but when Sam bid 4C:, he came out of the bushes and showed his real two-suiter. At this point, Mike should try hard to slow down the bidding, but his 4H: call was interpreted as a cue-bid in support of clubs, which does not make much sense since he had already shown nine major suit cards and taken a preference to diamonds earlier. The diamond preference was also a clear error, because it convinced Sam that he was facing a 4-5-3-1 good hand, which means that he has no club losers. After the three Key Card reply to 4NT, Sam ought to realize that rot has set in and give up with 6D: or 6NT, but he could not tell which error his partner had made, so he just went for the grand. He knew that they needed a big score to qualify for the team, so the grand was a reasonable shot regardless.

Before dummy came down, Sam's Left Hand Opponent committed a cardinal sin and table talked his way into the history books. He said, ``I'll be sick if you make this.'' When dummy was shown, Sam managed to choke out a very untruthful, ``Thank you, partner,'' and went to work.

The opening lead was the S:4. Without the table talk, at least three lines of play make sense and turn out to be pretty close in likelihood. The two best ones, however, require the club finesse, and LHO's comment must include the C:K, unless he has Jack-fourth of trumps, in which case the slam is doomed. Sam chose a different line, therefore, assuming that the club finesse was off. He won the first trick and ruffed a heart in hand. He drew trumps and ran all the trumps squeezing LHO in hearts and clubs because the heart queen comes down. Nicely played, Sam.

Copyright © 1992 Jeff Goldsmith