The Underbidder

Playing in the second round of the Grand National Pairs, we oppose two regular teammates. No one is vulnerable and I am dealt
 S:J10 H:J1095 D:864 C:QJ106
in fourth seat. Partner opens 1S: and RHO overcalls 1NT (15-18). All pass. My opening lead is obvious, the S:J. We see
S: 96
H: 864
D: KJ93
C: A943
S: J10
H: J1095
D: 864
C: QJ106
Pass1S:1NTAll Pass
with some awe. Dummy sheepishly admits he was underbidding. After a few rounds of, "of course, you know who is playing it," etc. my S:J holds. Partner discourages, but when your jack holds, partner's signal isn't all that critical. I try the S:10. It holds. Partner has played the two and the three. I don't think this suggests a club shift; I think he needs to hold his spots, because declarer has created some sort of tenace position against him. I can't think of which one, but I don't care. I have an obvious shift to the H:J. Guess what? It holds. This is going pretty well! Partner encourages, so I continue hearts to partner's H:K and declarer's H:A. Rats. I was on a roll.

Declarer cashes two rounds of clubs and looks a little annoyed when partner shows out, pitching a spade. I contribute the C:Q so that partner knows what's going on in clubs. Declarer crosses back to the H:Q as all follow, and plays the D:5. I play small, and after some consideration, declarer inserts the Curse. Partner wins the D:10 and considers for a little while. He announces, "I'm about to make a weird play," and exits with the D:Q. Dummy wins, and declarer thinks again. This is a double-dummy problem from our standpoint, though not declarer's.

D: J3
C: 94
H: 10
D: 8
C: J10
S: K8
D: A2
C: 85
After due consideration, declarer continues with the D:J from dummy. Partner wins, and with a flourish, exits with the D:2 to dummy's D:3! I claim, "no one can beat a pair of tens," and declarer ends up down one.

The play was pretty fancy (well done, partner!), and it occurs to me that partner opened the bidding, declarer overcalled 1NT, dummy apologized for underbidding, and I took five tricks! (Tens full of jacks.) If declarer got the endgame wrong by exiting with his low diamond, I could have taken seven tricks! It's also not everyday that you see a three-spot established by force.

Copyright © 2007 Jeff Goldsmith