Once upon a time, I was playing a club game with a new
player. She knew about how to bid after 1NT openings,
but had no idea about any other bidding. I had a
6-4 15-count, and since I hoped to find a 4-4 fit and
play in game if sensible, I tried opening 1NT. It worked;
we found our fit and played game and made it. We even
won the game.
Playing in a regional pair game with a partner who is
better than the one mentioned above, I pick up
10 KQ87 J9 AKQJ63. Partner opens 1, and
I get to respond 2, game forcing. Partner rebids
2, and I have a problem. I could rebid the clubs,
but then he'll bid something at the 3-level, and I will
both have failed to show my extra values and failed to
show my enthusiasm for notrump. I could also bid 2,
but that tends to suggest lack of direction. My hand has
quite the opposite problemI have lots of direction,
just no convenient way to show it all. After some
consideration, I decide to treat my hand as a strong
notrump and jump to 3NT. It's matchpoints, after all.
Partner raises to 4NT. That's good news. I surely have
a maximum, and I want to play clubs, so I jump to 6.
Partner considers for a moment, then passes. The opening
lead is the K, and I see
It seems that partner also thinks 6-4 is notrump shape!
It looks as if I have 12 tricks off the top: one spade,
three hearts, two diamonds, and six clubs. I could try
to set up spades for my 13th trick, or I could just ruff
a heart in dummy. I'll need 3-3 spades or 4-2 spades
and 3-3 clubs to set up spades, but just a 4-3 break in
hearts to score a heart ruff. The 4-3 looks better, and
if something goes wrong with the heart ruff, I'm still likely
to make, but if I get overruffed in spades, I am almost sure to
go down, so I like trying to ruff a heart in dummy.
Perhaps just playing for 12 tricks is best, but it seems pretty
safe to try the ruff, because LHO didn't lead a heart singleton
or from the J109. I can't test trumps before playing hearts,
so I might as well start
immediately. I win the A, cash the A, and
cross to the K. Surprise! LHO ruffs this. So much
for the inference about not having a singleton. After a
little thought, she plays a diamond.
I'm down to 11 tricks. Maybe I ought to have taken the safe
route to 12 tricks, but that's water under the bridge. My
best chance now is a double squeeze, and that looks very
promising. LHO looks to have spades, and RHO is known to
have hearts. I'm short entries to the table, so I'm going
to have to play for 4-2 spades. To that end, I ruff a spade
to hand. RHO contributes the 9 and LHO the deuce.
That doesn't guarantee LHO's having KQJx, but she might
have led her stiff instead of KQx in dummy's long suit.
Regardless, there's nothing to do but run the trumps.
Another surprise! RHO shows out on the second trump.
Trumps were 5-1! No wonder she didn't lead a stiff;
she had a natural trump trick. So I only had 11 tricks,
not 12. As I'm about to cash the last trump, the position
On the last trump, LHO pitches the Q, and dummy
throws a diamond. RHO has already pitched two hearts,
so she, perforce, pitches a diamond. That brings her
down to at most one diamond. Now, when I cash the
Q, LHO has to pitch a diamond to keep her
J, so I pitch dummy's spade, and score the
last two tricks with dummy's diamonds. The double
squeeze worked as expected, because LHO was 4-1-3-5,
so RHO could not guard spades.
This was a good board, but not a top. A few made
12 tricks in notrump. One got the lead of the
J, which dropped the singleton 9.
Declarer just finessed the 8 for his twelfth
trick. We were pretty lucky to see clubs 5-1; otherwise
6NT would have been cold. We still would have got a good result,
because not many bid the slam. That's pretty strange.
After all, don't two strong notrumps equal a slam?
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Goldsmith