Stupidest. Play. Ever.

Playing in the second session of the Blue Ribbon pairs, we have a simple auction to 3NT.
S: K7
H: AQJ108
D: 1075
C: A103
S: 532
H: K6
D: AQ2
C: KQJ98
The opening lead is the C:7. I have 11 top tricks. I can run my tricks and see if I learn anything; perhaps I'll know that the same player has the S:A and D:K, in which case, he'll be strip-squeezed and I can force a 12th trick. The opponents are supposedly capable, so it's unlikely I'll know for certain, which means I'll probably cash out for five. On the other hand, these opponents are good enough that they may stiff the D:K to avoid the endplay; even if I don't know it is happening, I may get a 12th trick.

But. Why did LHO lead top-of-nothing? It's matchpoints and he obviously doesn't have very much, so he just wanted to avoid giving away a trick, but why did he lead from nothing in clubs instead of spades? Most players prefer to lead a major against 3NT, all things being equal. That suggests that opening leader has a spade honor, or he would have led from nothing in spades. If his honor is the S:A, leading to the S:K will net me a 12th trick. If his honor is the S:Q or S:J, RHO won't know to continue spades; he'll probably shift to a diamond. I can then hop and take my 11 tricks. Of course, if RHO has all the spades, he'll laugh at me as he runs the suit. Is that likely? No, I think my reasoning is sound. Of course, I'd never consider risking a cold game at IMPs, but at matchpoints, the twelfth trick should be very valuable. So I go for it. I lead a small spade to the S:K and RHO tries to stifle a laugh. Unsuccessfully. Uh, oh. He runs his five spades without any trouble at all and sets me one in 3NT.

That didn't work out very well, but I think the reasoning is sensible. It sure looked, however, like the stupidest play ever.

Copyright © 2007 Jeff Goldsmith