A Solid Suit
Bridge is a funny game. Would you believe that
a 10-card fit to the AKQJ might afford some
technique in playing the suit?
Playing in a matchpoint tournament where each
player allegedly has more than 750 masterpoints,
I pick up second position:
K98 A4 A10 AQ8765
against two players I have never seen before.
We are playing a 15-17 notrump, but this hand
is definitely too good for 1NT. This feels like
about a 19 count to me, so I open 1 intending
to rebid 2NT. LHO
overcalls 1, partner raises to 2,
and RHO passes. 3NT seems obvious, and when I bid
that, everyone passes.
After fidgeting for a little while, West selects
the K as his opening lead and I see
Partner made an unusual call at his first
opportunity; most would make a negative double
to try to get the spade suit into the picture. I
would then rebid 2NT and we would likely play there, so
I probably need to make this contract to get a good
board. Actually, I think partner's bid was reasonable.
It seems more likely that we have a club fit than a
spade fit and the initial raise might be what I need
to be able to compete to the three-level. What makes me unhappy,
however, is the opening lead. 3NT is cold on the
expected heart lead; the diamond has struck a vital
blow to my chances.
| Q654 |
| K98 |
I have eight tricks on top and only one real chance
for another, that's being the spade suit. But before
I can set up a spade trick, they will be able to
cash at least four diamond tricks and a spade to
beat me. I can try to steal my spade trick at trick
two by leading the 9, or I can try the effect
of running my clubs. Maybe they will make an error.
Without much confidence, I decide upon the latter line.
To conceal my diamond holding, I win the first trick.
Holding up will be futile, anyway.
I begin the clubs by cashing the King and both opponents
follow. Since I want them to make damaging discards, I
want to play clubs in order to force the opponent with
the singleton to make two discards before his partner
makes any. So, I continue with the J off the
dummy and East shows out, pitching a diamond (yay!)
I let this hold and continue with a third round of
clubs from the dummy. East pitches another diamond,
which is fatal if diamonds are 6-4, and it turns out
that I make 3NT when they don't have enough diamonds
to cash when I give up the A.
Note again the play of the club suit. If East had followed
to the second club, I would have overtaken the J
with the Queen and continued a third round of clubs from
my hand, unblocking the Nine from dummy. That way, West
would have to make a second discard before seeing any of
partner's. Who would think that the play of the hand
would revolve around the play of the club suit?
Copyright © 1993 Jeff Goldsmith