A Thin Slam
Playing in a national pair event with a capable partner,
I pick up KQJ72 AQ6 9543 Q. I deal and open 1.
Partner responds 2, and I make the obvious 2
rebid. Partner rebids 2, which we play game forcing,
so I bid 2NT to show and protect my heart stoppers in case
we end up in notrump. Partner jumps to 4. That's
not the splinter I want to hear, so I sign off in 4.
Partner carries on nonetheless, and to his 4NT inquiry I admit
to two key cards and the Q, after which he puts us in
6. Curious bidding on his part: if he was going to
drive to slam anyway, what was the point of splintering first?
"Curious" seems too kind. LHO leads the A, and it appears
as if partner has lost his mind.
I guess he's a little surprised that I'd bid such a bad diamond
suit, but I had no reason to believe that this was going to be
a slam auction, and a 2NT rebid suggests a second club. Not to
mention a diamond stopper. Maybe I ought to have rebid 2?
RHO discourages diamonds at trick one, so LHO shifts to the 9.
That's good; if he were to continue diamonds, I don't think I'd like it.
I start off with five spades, one heart, two diamonds, and a club for
nine tricks. I could ruff a couple of hearts in dummy or take the
heart finesse, but that'll give me a maximum of 11 tricks unless
diamonds are 3-3. I think they are more likely to be 5-1 than 3-3,
so that means I need to make something of the clubs. If they are 3-3
and trumps break, I'll have 12 easy tricks, but I'll need to manage my
entries carefully. So I win the club in dummy and ruff one with
the 7. Both follow. If trumps are 4-1, I'm going to have
to settle for down one, so I cash a high trump and play my low trump
to dummy's 10. Both follow. That's good. Ruff another club...but
RHO shows out. Heh...LHO shifted to a club from K942...Grosvenored
again. I no longer have any options in the play; this is going to have
to be a dummy reversal. I need two diamond entries to the table, so
it looks like I need diamonds to be 1-5 and RHO to have the last trump.
Since there's nothing I can do about it if that's not the case, I soldier
on. Ruff the club high, play a diamond. LHO shows out, pitching a
heart. That's very good...looks I am making. I ruff the last
club high, cross to the last diamond, draw trump with dummy's stiff
A, and claim.
Diamonds were 1-5 all the time, so they couldn't beat me...very lucky!
The whole hand was:
While the play looked spectacular, this really was a simple hand
to play. A count of my tricks indicated that I had to set up the
clubs, and when they broke 4-2, a dummy reversal was necessary.
I was lucky diamonds were 1-5, or RHO could have pitched two diamonds
on clubs and ruffed my final dummy entry. If I only needed one
diamond entry, I could have tried using it early if I judged
diamonds were 2-4, but since I needed two, I had no choice but to
hope diamonds were 1-5 or RHO made an error.
Copyright © 2006 Jeff Goldsmith