Triple Tempo

Playing IMPs, I run across a bread and butter hand, yet the clear-cut defense gained 5 IMPs. In third chair with none vulnerable, I pick up
 S:A3 H:A64 D:J10875 C:AKQ
Not bad, just a tad too strong for a 1NT opening, but RHO opens 1H: in front of me. We play 1NT overcalls as 15-18, so that seems fine. I don't like my heart holding, but overcalling 2D: doesn't look very attractive, either. The auction continues 2H: on my left, 2S: by partner, two passes, and 3H: on my left. Two more passes to me. If this were matchpoints, I'd double. It looks like I have five tricks in hand and partner bid. He might not have very much, but at least they won't have a source of tricks in spades. At IMPs, however, I'll be a wimp and just play it here.

The opening lead is obvious. I lead a small trump. I don't want to lead a club, because if it draws declarer's singleton, it may allow a quick entry to hand to cross-ruff. Dummy hits with

S: J972
H: Q104
D: A
C: 109875
S: A3
H: A64
D: J10875
All Pass
Looking at that dummy, I'm very glad I led a trump. Declarer wins and plays a club; partner shows an even number. Of course, I win and play the trump ace and another. Declarer plays another club (and follows), and I win, and of course, knock out dummy's D:A. Declarer (persistent cuss!) continues with a third round of clubs. Partner pitches an unreadable spade, but this partner always plays middle cards if he has any. It's pretty clear, however, to exit with a diamond. Declarer wins his KQ and eventually has to lead from his S:Kx for down two.

This picks up 5 IMPs vs. 2H: making at the other table. Perhaps I ought to have doubled after all.

The contract was always down off the top, but the trump lead set it two. Note that a club lead, even though declarer has three of them, costs a trick. The defense needs all three tempi it gets from winning clubs in order to do everything. That seems pretty unusual to me.

Copyright © 2010 Jeff Goldsmith