A Little Push

It's early Friday evening, and I just finished a small project. Shall I start another one or not? Let's see who is playing OKbridge. Lucky me---an internationalist I know is there; I must go chat with him for a moment. Luckier still, he needs a partner for a little while, so work takes a back seat and I play a few hands of bridge.

The bridge isn't going so well; we seem to pick the wrong choice whenever there can be one. Our best board so far is when we doubled them in 5H: and they made it. Most of the field doubled them in four.

I'm a little discouraged, but enjoying the game, when I pick up  S:J1073 H:KJ763 D:Q3 C:K3 as dealer. This doesn't come up to my standards for an opening bid, so I pass as does the next player. My partner opens 1C: and I respond 1H:. LHO overcalls 1S:, partner passes, and RHO raises to 2S:. It's not obvious what to do here, but it sounds as if partner has a real opening bid, not a 3rd seat special, because he has spade shortness. I try doubling, and partner, of course, bids 3H:. He's probably 1-3-4-5. With that shape, he shouldn't open junk in 3rd chair, but he didn't raise his last turn. I suppose I ought to pass, but the hands look to fit well, so I try bidding game. It's been an eventful auction:


I have a pretty good feeling that dummy is going to be a disappointment, and it is. LHO leads a small spade and I buy:

S: A
H: 1052
D: K742
C: A10652
S: J1073
H: KJ763
D: Q3
C: K3
I get the lead of a small spade to dummy's Ace. I wonder what partner would have bid if I had responded 1S:, but that's not important now. I lead a small diamond off the dummy towards my D:Q. RHO thinks for a second (maybe I have stiff D:Q?) but plays low. My D:Q wins, and I ruff a spade. Club to the King, and another spade ruffed. I cash the C:A and RHO follows with the C:J. It must be safe to ruff a club to hand, so I do as RHO pitches a diamond. The last spade gets ruffed with the H:10. RHO overruffs with the H:Q and continues with the H:9. I cover with the King, losing to the H:A. On this trick, I carefully pitch a small club from dummy. This allows LHO to exit with his C:Q without seeming to give me a trick (not that I have any entries to dummy, but appearances matter). In fact, it does give me a trick, because I get to ruff the C:Q with my H:6. When I exit with a diamond, RHO has to win the Ace. He continues with an innocent look and the H:4. I double-check; RHO has shown up with three spades, four diamonds, and two clubs, so he probably has four hearts. I insert the H:7, which holds as expected, and claim ten tricks.

Partner was impressed. I think the most important play was the club discard, giving LHO a gentle push down the slippery slope.

Jeff Goldsmith, jeff@tintin.jpl.nasa.gov, June 6, 1997