Playing in the last match of a regional Swiss, we are
four victory points behind the leaders and in third place.
That's what we get for losing the last match. On the first
board, everyone's vulnerable, and in third chair, I pick up
J8752 A10 AK QJ94
Some would open a strong notrump, but 5-4 is a suit shape,
so I open 1. Partner bids Drury, and now I have to
come up with the best way to get partner to judge between
4 and 3NT. I could show my clubs, but I think the
best approach is simply to bid 3NT. We may have a 2-2 fit
in a red suit, but on the other hand, we may have nine top
tricks anyway. If partner passes 3NT, I suspect it will be
the best contract. He does and maybe it is, maybe it isn't.
The opening lead is the 2. Since my bidding was
not entirely obvious, my first thought is that 4
is not much of a contract. Not only does it need 3-2 spades,
we'll need to pick up clubs or find the Q and a club-heart
squeeze. On the other hand, 3NT isn't much of a contract either.
I need either four club tricks or four heart tricks. Worse still,
if 3NT goes down, it'll go down a lot. Vulnerable.
I win the first trick with the A. That tells the opponents
that I have the ace-king. I want them to know that; maybe they'll
switch to something more promising if they get in. That's not too
likely, but it can't hurt to try. The next order of business is
to play clubs. Do I want LHO to cover the first club honor? I
don't know. Either way, I'll have a guess, so I might as well
advance the Q. That loses to RHO who returns a diamond.
I win as LHO unblocks the J.
The good news is that 4 looks hopeless. The bad news is
that 3NT doesn't look so hot, either. I'll need three club
tricks and four heart tricks to make. If I lose a heart trick,
they'll take three diamonds, three spades, a club and a heart.
Down four. I could cash out for down two. That'll probably only
lose three IMPs. It'd be seven if I get hearts wrong. On the
other hand, if I get them right, I either break even or win 12.
We're a little behind, so I think I need to go for it.
Who has the Q? The only information I have so far is that
LHO appears to have four diamonds and RHO five. LHO didn't lead
a heart, but preferred a weak diamond suit, knowing that declarer
had a long suit he could set up if he had time. That suggests
RHO has the Q. Good...especially since to get four heart
tricks, I need either to play RHO for three hearts to the queen,
or LHO for three hearts to the queen and nine.
Entries are a problem, so I can't afford to take the best line in
clubs. They are going to have to be 3-2. I lead the 9 to
the ace in dummy and play a low heart, finessing the 10.
Good news, it holds! When I play off the A, RHO drops
the six. Maybe he has only three of them...could this be my
lucky day? I cash the J and lead the carefully-preserved
4 to dummy's six to cash the K. The queen comes
tumbling down, and I claim nine tricks.
Partner congratulates me on making game, and says, "I bet you
thought it was pretty unlucky to find the doubleton diamond
queen opposite your ace-king doubleton!" I reply, "after making
3NT on those cards, I can't feel even slightly unlucky!"
We finish the match before our teammates. The captain of the
team who was in the lead comes by to ask how we did. We admit
that we don't know. He tells us that we need to win by 8 IMPs
to tie with him for the win, or to win by 11 to win the event
outright. Turns out we win 12 IMPs on this board and win the
match by 8.
Copyright © 2006 Jeff Goldsmith