A Trump Loser

Playing a KO match against top-notch opponents, we are doing well when I pick up my best hand of the match.
 S:2 H:AKQJ63 D:J C:A7532
No one is vulnerable. Partner opens 1D: in first seat. I'm thinking about whether to use a strong jump shift when RHO butts in with 2S:. That at least makes this call easy: 3H:. LHO raises to 3S: and partner raises me to 4H:. RHO passes. I could use Blackwood, but partner is very likely to have an ace, and I don't want to allow a lead-directing double. Moreover, if I just bid slam, they have to guess whether to sacrifice. I suspect they won't, which I think is good for us. I try 6H: and all pass. The opening lead is the S:A, and I see why they didn't sacrifice.
S: KQ5
H: 1097
D: AQ10543
C: J
S: 2
D: J
C: A7532
1D: 2S: 3H: 3S:
4H: Pass 6H: All Pass
RHO plays a high spade, and after a fair bit of thought LHO exits with a trump. I play low from dummy and RHO shows out. Rats. I was almost ready to claim. Still, I have six trumps, two spades and two aces. I can ruff two clubs in dummy for 12 tricks. The safest way to do this is to cash the two spades and the D:A, then C:A, club ruff, diamond ruff, club ruff, diamond ruff, claim. LHO still has three trumps, so I can afford to ruff high only once. If the first diamond ruff comes off, I can claim. I don't see anything better, but since diamonds are unlikely to be 5-1 (RHO would have 6052 shape exactly), this looks pretty good.

Disaster! The first diamond gets overruffed and a trump comes back. I now have another club loser, so I am down three! At the other table, they miss this slam and we lose 11 IMPs. We win the match easily anyway, so this hand doesn't matter, but how often can one say one has a nine-card trump fit to the AKQJ10976 with a trump loser by force?

Copyright © 2003 Jeff Goldsmith