Serves Him Right

Playing in a regional Swiss, our opponents are not normally slow, but this time, one is. My partner is second to speak and holds  S:x H:Axxxx D:J109x C:AJx. He hears his RHO open 1S:. We pass throughout, and LHO bids 2C:, natural and game forcing. The auction continues 2D: by opener, 2S: by responder, and 3D: by opener. Responder thinks for a second and bids 3NT, which they play as natural. Opener goes into the tank. A deep dark everlasting tank. Ten minutes goes by. Finally, he emerges with 4S:, and all pass. Now it is partner's turn to go into the tank. Out loud. He says, "dummy has five clubs, three spades, probably two diamonds and king-third of hearts. Hmmm...what should I lead?" He thinks some more. What was he doing during the ten-minute tank? I know I was deciding what I'd lead against 3NT in case opener passed. It seemed obvious that he was considering either passing or bidding 4S:. After another 30 seconds, partner emerges with the H:A.

Dummy hits with a not-particularly-suprising  S:AKx H:KJ9x D:x C:K109xx. Partner thinks a little more and cashes his C:A. I don't have two trump tricks, so declarer claims ten tricks quickly.

With ten minutes to think about his lead, I think partner ought to have been figuring out what to lead against 4S:. If he had spent that time fruitfully, he would have realized that I have four trumps. Declarer is thinking about 3NT vs. 4S: probably because he has a stiff heart. And partner already knew the H:K was in dummy. Hoping for my actual hand no longer seems that difficult; I had  S:Qxxx H:Q10x D:xxx C:xxx. A small heart lead in tempo (if you have ten minutes to think about your lead, you ought to be able to make it in tempo!) almost certainly would have fooled declarer. If so, I can win the H:Q and continue the suit. Declarer can get home after this start, but it's difficult and he probably will not. Partner will have to duck the first round of clubs, but with a full count by then, that will be easy enough.

Too bad...that would have been a great defense, and would have served declarer right for tanking for ten minutes in a 45-minute match.

Copyright © 2010 Jeff Goldsmith