Tough Defense

Playing in a weak club game, I'm East, and see a dummy that looks like my usual holding.
S: 5
H: QJ10
D: 97532
C: J765
S: 109872
H: AK953
D: A6
C: 10
2S:All Pass
Partner leads a low heart; I win the H:K and cash another. Declarer follows and partner does, too, showing three cards in the suit. It seems obvious to switch to my singleton club, so I do. Declarer ducks it to partner's C:Q. I don't get my ruff; instead partner chooses to switch to a low diamond. I win and with nothing better to do, continue diamonds. Declarer wins the D:K and starts trumps.

What's going on? Declarer should have six spades, two hearts, two diamonds, and three clubs. I'm about to be endplayed on the fifth round of trumps. I don't see that it matters much, but I start unblocking trumps. I'll judge later if I want to take my trump trick or let partner get pseudo-squeezed. One never knows, either; a Scotch might be in the offing.

On the second round of trumps, partner follows! That's a surprise. That means declarer is 5-2-2-4. Suddenly, my trump trick is a major liability. I'm about to win the fifth trump and have to play a heart to dummy. That's going to squeeze partner in the minors. I won't let this happen. As declarer cashes his four high trumps, I carefully play under them my four high spots. He cashes his fifth trump, the six, and I happily contribute my little deuce. Declarer looks a little perturbed; he didn't figure on that. Eventually, he plays clubs and partner wins and cashes a diamond for down one. Pretty amazing. The end position was

S: ---
H: Q
D: 9
C: J7
S: ---
H: ---
C: K9
S: 2
H: 953
D: ---
C: ---
S: 6
H: ---
D: ---
C: A83
If I held onto my high spade, declarer would have pitched a club from dummy. I win the trick, but have to return a heart. Partner is squeezed in the minors, so giving up the trump trick gains two tricks back.

OK, I was fibbing. Obviously, I was really dummy; after all, those are my sort of cards. Declarer didn't notice the squeeze and pitched all his diamonds away, so East's failure to unblock trumps didn't end up costing him a trick. No one thought much of the hand except me, although declarer was pretty pleased he managed to gain a trick for his H:Q. I couldn't resist telling everyone about the cool plays they missed. And I'm not repentant, either.

Copyright © 2000 Jeff Goldsmith