I am playing in a regional pairs event with a new and relatively inexperienced partner. Things are going well when a local pro comes to our table and sits on my left. I do not recognize his partner, though she is obviously a client. I deal myself
 S:AJ632 H:Q4 D:AJ65 C:42
The bidding is swift and inaccurate:
The opening lead is the D:2, and I see
S: K107
H: K10652
D: 3
C: KJ105
S: AJ632
H: Q4
D: AJ65
C: 42
The bidding was a little rough, but the contract is not too bad, though that is just a coincidence. If I can open hands like mine, then I think partner must only invite game with his.

I start with two aces to lose and two queens to find. I also have three diamond losers that need to be disposed of; I can ruff one in dummy, but I might be unable to draw trumps if I ruff more than that. I shall need the heart suit, I think, so I win East's D:Q with the Ace and advance the H:Q. East wins this and returns a trump. I duck, of course, and West's Queen is found under my King. I still need to do something with the hearts, so I cash the H:K. The pro contributes the Jack, which I am confident is a true card. It looks like trumps are breaking 3-2, though I do not know where the length lies yet. It would be dangerous to assume this just from the play, but the pro looked a little annoyed by the trump return, so I doubt that was a singleton Queen. If trumps are breaking, I might be able to play this hand along reverse dummy lines, so I ruff a small heart with the S:A. West contributes a small club. I think I shall make this hand if the C:A is on my left, so I lead a club to the King, losing (oops) to the Ace. East should now know that I am 5-2-4-2, and should cash their club trick if she has the Queen, then return a heart. I shall go down if that happens. She is not up to this defense, however, and continues the assault on her partner's trumps. I play low, he contributes the Eight, and I win the Ten. I think I can place the whole hand now. West has 3-2-4-4 distribution, and East has the C:Q, because West would probably have pitched a diamond instead of a club with C:Qxxx. It is just barely possible that West is 2-2-4-5, but he might have led a club in that case. In any event, I think I see a way to make this hand against either of those holdings.

I cash the H:K, pitching my losing club from hand, and West pitches a club, slowly. Now I am sure about the hand, and these cards are left

S: 7
H: 6
D: ---
C: J105
S: 9
H: ---
D: Kxx
C: x
S: ---
H: ---
D: xxx
C: Qx
S: J6
H: ---
D: J65
C: ---
The remaining play goes quickly for me, but slowly for the pro; he has to decide when to use his trump. Each discard comes more slowly. I think he knows the hand, but he does not see that the contract is cold, yet. I cash the last heart, East pitching a club, the rest of us diamonds. Another mistake for her, now I have no guess in the club suit, but I was sure she had the Queen, anyway. The C:J is, of course, covered, and I ruff with the S:J; West now is in possession of the high trump! I ruff a diamond with dummy's trump and cash the good club pitching my last diamond. West can ruff whenever he wants, but I have the rest.

This hand has taken about twelve of our fifteen minutes and the pro is sweating. His partner asks if her trump return was best, but he is silent as we finish the round. Later, I find that +420 was top on the board, and we win the event. This time, I think I have earned it.

Copyright © 1994 Jeff Goldsmith