It's the first day of the national two-day Swiss, and
the match before dinner is sometimes a little hectic. Teams
who finish early are chattering about dinner plans, raising
the noise level a bit. As dealer, white on red, I pick up
a pretty good hand, KQJ953 AKQ9 Q9 K. Four losers
is few enough to open 2, but this hand is going to
be hard to bid, so I start low with 1.
That turns out well, as the auction is at the five-level
by my next turn. LHO jumps to 3, partner raises
to 3, and RHO leaps to 5. What are our
chances of a slam? Partner's 3 can range from
a decent single raise up through a bad limit raise, so
it is possible that he holds something like Axxx xxx Kxx Axx.
I think it'd be pushing a little too hard to try for slam
if RHO didn't bid 5, but now there's a pretty good
chance that partner is short in diamonds. As little as
Axx xxxxx x Axxx makes a slam pretty good. Will
partner know when to accept? Most of the time, yes, but
he might go with two aces and a doubleton diamond. Even
then, LHO might have to guess which suit to lead. I think
it's close, but I'll make a slam try by bidding 5.
Partner provides the fastest signoff in history, and
the opponents have nothing more to say, so I get to play
5. The opening lead is the A, and I see
Looks like I bid too much. Partner had his bidding shoes
on, too, but I didn't have to get us to the five-level
with three losers in their suits. Oh, well. I wonder
why I didn't consider doubling the red on white opponents?
Everyone follows to the A, and without much thought,
LHO continues clubs. That's nice! I follow low from dummy,
and RHO puts up the J, which I ruff. LHO is not an
idiot; in fact, he's a very strong player, so diamonds must
be 8-0. I'm sure that with only AQ10 at the top of his suit,
LHO, being at unfavorable vulnerability, must have seven clubs.
He's surely not 0607, but he could be 1507 or more likely,
2407. It should be pretty easy to endplay him in any case.
I start by drawing trumps, which takes two rounds. LHO turns
out to have the spades, so he is probably 2407. I cash the
top hearts, pitching a diamond from dummy, but the J10
don't fall, so I ruff the fourth heart and exit with dummy's
last club, pitching a losing diamond. As expected, RHO shows
out on this, so I can claim 11 tricks.
This is a textbook loser-on-loser play, so I am quite surprised
that the expert declarer at the other table went down. My
teammates say that he didn't even try to drop the heart honors,
but just claimed down one at Trick 2. How odd.
It didn't really occur to me to double 5, but it looks
as if we were only getting 200 if I did.
LHO had xx Jxxx AQ10xxxx. I'm glad I wasn't in his chair.
My opening lead would likely have been spectacularly unsuccessful.
Copyright © 2014 Jeff Goldsmith