E Pluribus Plurum

Playing in an extended team match against a team that is giving us a run for our money, I deal and pick up
 S:9762 H:Q32 D:K4 C:AK108
I make this a marginal opening bid, but since I can open my best suit and hope for a lead there, I open 1C:. Partner bids 1H:, and I rebid 1S:. (``Nice suit.'' ``Why thank you.'') Partner raises to 3S: and I should pass, but we need some IMPs, so I shoot the game. When dummy hits, this does not look too bad on the lead of the D:3, the unbid suit.
H: KJ94
D: 1083
C: J4
S: 9762
H: Q32
D: K4
C: AK108
East wins the D:A and shifts to a small club. With three Aces to lose, I need trumps breaking and I shall have to pick up a trick in the wash, either through hearts breaking or from clubs. It is too early to commit to the club finesse, so I win, unblocking the Jack from dummy in order to preserve as many options in the suit as possible. I continue with a low trump. West hops up with the Ace and continues the suit, both following, but the Ten does not drop. Too bad; I shall have to draw the last trump with the Jack. West discards a small diamond on this.

What do I know about the hand? The opening lead was the unbid suit and appears to be from four, though it could be three. That club shift seems odd. Why not continue diamonds? Or shift to trumps? Each ought to be safe and possibly productive. Perhaps she has no further entries and is trying to prevent an endplay against partner's C:KQ? I guess that makes sense; she doesn't know that partner has two Aces. For that to make sense, she must not have the C:Q or the H:A. Maybe she didn't continue diamonds because she had five of them. But why not play trumps? In any case, I think that she would never play a club holding the Queen, but I may have no other play, so I shall reserve judgement for the moment.

Now, clearly, I need to knock out the H:A. I play a heart to the Queen and West's Ace (see!) and a heart comes back. They have defended this altogether too well, but I have a myriad of lines available now. I can cash hearts and take the club finesse. I can try to ruff out the club. I can try to get a count on the hand and get hearts right. The C:8 might be useful. Maybe there is a squeeze. Here is the position:

S: K
H: K9
D: 108
C: 4
S: 9
H: 2
D: K
C: K108
The ways that I can gain another trick are: hearts 3-3, a heart finesse, a club finesse, the club Queen dropping, pinning the club nine, or a club-heart squeeze. I think that the best combined chance now is to try to get hearts right with the bonuses of the club Queen third and a squeeze if the C:Q is with the long hearts. In order to get hearts right, I need a count on the hand, so I play a diamond to the King, cash a club, ruff a club, and ruff a diamond. On this trick, West pitches the C:Q, which makes life easy. It seems that she had four hearts as well, so the squeeze chance worked. If she had had four diamonds, she would have had to follow and I would have had to guess hearts. I think playing her for the club is best, so hearts must be 3-3. On the other hand, about that C:8....
Copyright © 1992 Jeff Goldsmith