It's been a tough week. I've been carefully
counting out all the hands and it's done nothing
but hurt me. The short hand always has the honor,
the obvious play always works if there's a better
one based on the count, and once in awhile, I've
just done something goofy. As a result, we are
playing in a one-session Swiss after losing a KO
match. Oddly, we draw much stronger teams in the
Swiss than we would have in the KO. Everyone else
seemed to have a tough time, too, today.
Both vulnerable, I pick up a decent hand:
85 AQ10972 42 K53.
RHO opens 1 in front of me. We play a
2 overcall to show the majors, so I bid
1. LHO bids 1 and partner bids 1NT.
That's supposed to show some values, but I don't
think game rates to be an issue. Opener supports
spades and I have a mild problem. They probably have
eight spades and we eight hearts; partner
doesn't go out of his way to bid 1NT with a singleton
in my suit. I don't want to sell to 2 with
sixteen total trumps, so I bid 3. Partner
must think this shows a good hand, as he raises me
to game. No one doubles, to my surprise.
I get the opening lead of the A and see:
This does not look good. We have three aces to
lose and the trumps need a lot of luck. The third
club is going to be a problem, too, as I expect
they'll knock out my only late entry to dummy at
For now, I just follow low to the first trick.
LHO continues with a small spade, and I win the K.
I need to pick up trumps, so I don't have any choice
but to play a trump to the 10. This passes
off, so I have a chance. No honor appeared on my
right, so I am playing for 2-3 trumps. West would
have shifted to a singleton diamond, so it's safe
to use that suit as an entry to dummy. I play a
low diamond from hand, and West inserts the 10.
I put on the J and East gives this some thought.
He finally ducks, playing low from hand. Diamonds
appear to be 2-5. Since the spades were bid and
supported and these guys play negative doubles,
I can work out the entire hand. Since I'm assuming
trumps to be 2-3, East has to have 3-3-5-2 shape
exactly. For now, I can't do anything but finish
drawing trump. Luckily, East had KJx, which
was by no means a sure thing.
I pitch a small diamond from dummy on the third
trump and take stock. If clubs are 5-2, the odds
strongly favor a finesse of the J, as East
surely has the A. I don't have to test that
now, however; I can continue with a diamond, forcing
them to play spades to help confirm my count. East
wins the second diamond (West does follow) and exits
with the J, which I ruff. It seems pretty
clear now that East was dealt Jxx KJx Axxxx A?.
He does not need the J for his opening bid,
nor does West need it for his response.
I'm about to finesse the 10 when, just in time,
I see an improvement. I put the K on the table.
If East wins, I have access to dummy's diamond winner.
If he ducks, I'll have a marked finesse on the second
round of clubs. As I play low from dummy (perhaps
inserting the 10 would be more poetic as I
don't need it anymore!) East goes into a trance.
To save time, I face my cards and claim, "if you
have ace and one, you are pickled." He folds his
cards and gives up. I never find out who had the
Winning ten tricks was very lucky (for a pleasant
change) and we go on to blitz the match.
If East had won the first diamond and played the
suit back, the situation would not have changed.
I would not have been able to ruff the spade, but
once I determine that East has only two clubs,
I can force an entry to dummy with the Q
so as not to lose two club tricks.
Copyright © 2001 Jeff Goldsmith