The Only Chance
I'm playing in a regional KO with a partner who is
sound, but with whom I have no partnership. We have
spent maybe five minutes discussing system and less
than that on general bidding style. That's still
no excuse for a bid I perpetrated, but sometimes these
things work out.
At unfavorable vulnerability in first chair, I deal myself
93 K8 AQJ86 AQ43
Probably I ought to open 1NT to simplify the auction,
but I've had lots of success opening these hands 1.
Since I also think that's the right bridge action, I do it,
notwithstanding some reservations that we could easily get
out of our systemic comfort zone. LHO overcalls 1,
and partner bids 1, showing five or more spades.
RHO jumps to 3, and I have a problem. The "right"
action is to double, showing extra values with no clear
direction, but I am not confident that partner will think
I have what I have. Perhaps I ought to pass. After all,
if I discount the K, I'm looking at a 13-count. On
the other hand, if I don't bid 3NT now, we aren't getting
there, and if the auction goes 1NT-3NT at the other table,
I don't want to lose a game swing to them. I talk myself
into bidding 3NT (twist my arm!) and there the auction ends.
Dummy is a disappointment. Partner even apologizes for it.
The opening lead is the 4. A bit belatedly,
I ask if 3 was preemptive or a limit raise.
"A limit raise." Ulp. So I had a clue to shut up
and didn't use it. This could be bloody. I glance
at the opponents' convention card and see that they
lead fourth best. Hearts are apparently 4-4. That's
nice. At least I'm not down before I start. I play
low from dummy, RHO wins the A and continues
with the 5, further confirming that hearts are 4-4.
What will it take to make this? I need five diamond
tricks, two clubs, and one in each major. That means
that I need to place RHO with the minor suit kings
along with his A. That doesn't leave much
for LHO's overcall, just the QJ and the AQ.
I shall need at least one entry to dummy to take the
diamond finesse. The K will supply one. I could
make then by leading a diamond to the queen, dropping the
K doubleton, crossing back to the 10, and
taking a club hook. That seems like a long shot. Is
there anything better? What if I lead to the J,
run the 10
the 8 just in case there was stiff nine offside),
take another diamond finesse,
clear diamonds, and exit spades. LHO will be able to cash
her hearts, but someone will have to lead clubs for me.
I could play her for doubleton A and hope she errs by
ducking the first spade. Probably she won't do that; I sure
have given her enough time to think about the hand. She'll
also might be able to reach partner in hearts. All in
all, since my card placing has put the Q onside and
I think that's the best chance anyway, I'll play for that.
I lead a spade to the jack and it holds. Hooray! I try the
10, which holds, but no 9 appears. Another
small diamond to the queen holds (there's that 9!). The
A clears the suit. I might as well run the diamonds.
Someone might pitch something useful, but probably they won't.
I can let go a couple of spades from dummy without any difficulty.
Nothing interesting happens, so I lead a spade towards the table.
LHO cashes her two hearts and exits with a club and I take the
last two tricks to make my contract. I guess I didn't need the
club finesse after all, but it was onside, as expected.
Good contract...it took roughly five finesses, a 4-4 break,
and a 3-2 break. OK, it's a little better than that, but not
Note that I could not make the hand by leading to the K.
When I was done with my diamonds, LHO would have four tricks
to cash, though if she had the K, she'd be strip squeezed.
Since I decided RHO needed that card for his limit raise, this
line was the only chance.
Copyright © 2007 Jeff Goldsmith