A Secret

Playing in a matchpoint Unit game against a bad client on my right and a self-declared ``pro'' on my left, I pick up the South cards in second position. East (the client) wiggles very briefly before passing as dealer at unfavorable and we bid briskly to 4H:.
S: A4
H: KJ653
D: K2
C: 10975
S: Q3
H: Q92
D: QJ98
West leads the D:7, I duck in dummy, and East, after a moment's thought, plays the Ace. I win the diamond return and play a small trump to my Queen, which holds. A second trump to the King also holds, East showing out, pitching a small spade.

I shall need to get back to my hand to lead trumps to dummy and then get back to the table to draw them. I have enough entries, but if clubs are 4-1, I might have some problems with timing, so I cross to the C:A and pitch a spade on the D:Q, which is probably a mistake, but both follow to this trick. It cannot hurt to cash the other diamond now and I might learn something useful, so I play the last diamond. West seems to have a problem and I can almost see the light bulb appear as he ruffs with the trump Ace and exits with his remaining trump to the dummy. That has solved the problem of drawing trumps, but it is a very curious play. It is clearly a bad one, too, since I was essentially able to draw trumps easily and get my discard on the good diamond. Will that matter? I still have to take the club finesse for eleven tricks.

Is that best? I do not have to commit to any line for at least one more trick, so I cash a trump, pitching a small club from my hand. East pitches yet another small spade and West throws the S:J. What is the count? East is known to have four diamonds and one heart. Aha! I know why she wiggled as dealer. She has six bad spades and was not sure whether or not to open a weak two because she was afraid of partner's wrath. If that is right, I can play the hand for a criss-cross squeeze. To do that, I'll have to give up the club finesse, perhaps risking the whole board. I am very confident of my conclusions here, so I cash the last trump, throwing the C:J from hand. East easily discards yet another spade and West fidgets a little before discarding a club. I cross to the C:K, felling the offside Queen, and criss back to the dummy with the S:A to take the last trick with the good club.

Just to be sure, I check West's hand and, yes, he had the S:K and was squeezed. What fun! While I'm happily enjoying this success, West is yelling at his partner for discarding so obviously as to be able to let me squeeze him. She is crestfallen. She could have defended better by shifting to a spade at trick two, but she fell for his lead falsecard, too. His defense was rather awful, but I do not tell them how I knew to play for the squeeze. That's my secret.

Copyright © 1995 Jeff Goldsmith