Say It With Feeling, Podner

I'm playing in a sectional Swiss with a capable partner who has somewhat unusual beliefs about competitive bidding. I am third to speak at favorable vulnerability, and pick up  S:Q96 H:98 D:AJ854 C:J32. Partner opens 1H: and RHO bids 2D:. I have nothing to contribute, so I pass, sort of hoping for partner to reopen with a double. Not so; LHO bids 2S: and partner bids 3C:. RHO passes, happy to be out of this, and I have to figure out who is joking. Odds are that it's partner, but to pass or bid 3H: seems like a pretty deep view with likely stoppers in both opponents' suits, so I shrug and bid 3NT. All pass and, yes, it was partner who was joking.
S: 1053
H: Q10732
D: K
S: Q96
H: 98
D: AJ854
C: J32
3C:Pass3NTAll Pass
They lead a middle diamond spot, and without thinking, I say, "thank you, partner," but 3NT looks pretty hopeless. I suppose I could cash out for down three, but probably they can't do better than down four, so let's see if I can do better.

I win the first trick in dummy of course and lead a small heart towards my hand. If RHO has the H:J, he'll never know to put it up. It might not help, but the alternative is to give up. It succeeds beyond my wildest dreams. The H:9 holds! Up to down two. If it worked once...I continue with the H:8. Obviously, I must try the H:Q from dummy. It wins, dropping the H:J! Cool. That means LHO started with the H:AK. RHO needs to have both spade honors to be close to his bid. I'm going to make this! I might as well continue hearts. RHO, as expected, shows out, pitching a diamond. LHO wins, shrugs, and shifts to a spade. RHO wins the top two spades and throws a club on the table. I win and cash the D:A. When the D:Q doesn't drop, I claim nine tricks—one spade, two hearts, two diamonds, and four clubs.

The anti-finesse position in hearts works surprisingly often. It is, of course, a desperation play, but sometimes that's all there is.

Partner laughed when I said, "thank you, partner;" I hadn't even seen the dummy yet. Of course, when I did, I realized he didn't have the semblance of his 3C: bid, but despite the hopeless situation, I didn't let the opponents know I was in trouble and good things happened. Perhaps I ought to have said, "thank you," with more feeling as his hand obviously was good enough!

Copyright © 2002 Jeff Goldsmith