"You Wish"

Playing in a club game with a strong partner, we are making a shambles of the field. Near the end of the evening, we sit down against an attractive young woman and her partner. With both sides vulnerable, I hold
 S:A72 H:KQJ754 D:A842 C:
Partner opens 1C:, and I bid 1H:. He rebids 2C:. We play 2D: here as an artificial force, and since it's the only way I can make any progress on the hand, I bid it. Partner bids 2S:, so I bid 3H:. That's forcing to game and shows a heart one-suiter. Partner raises to 4H:.
The opponents ask a lot of questions about the auction, and I explain partner's bids carefully. When we get to 4H:, I tell them, "that's his weakest way to bid 4H:. If he had a good hand for hearts, he would have bid 4D:. He probably has a singleton heart." The opening lead is the S:J after a little thought, and partner, as he's putting down dummy, says, "you wish I had a singleton heart." I see a less than thrilling collection.
S: 10943
D: QJ5
C: AKJ862
S: A72
H: KQJ754
D: A842
I have bought better. I agree with partner's 2C: bid, but maybe he might've tried 3NT rather than 4H:, not that 3NT is any bargain. But it's fun to raise with a void.

The play has its pitfalls. I start off with essentially no play, having to lose at least one heart, probably two, at least one diamond, and two spades. I suppose if the D:K is stiff, good things could occur. Too bad about the lead. I suspect that most others will get a more fortunate choice of leads.

So is it a singleton or a doubleton? RHO might've overcalled 1S: with S:KQxxx. LHO probably would have led a stiff faster. I duck the first trick. She continues with a second spade, and I win. I see two reasonable approaches. I can play LHO for the D:K and play a diamond towards dummy, or I can play LHO for the H:A and length or a problem. Who has those cards? I have no idea about the D:K, but I'm inclined to give LHO the trump ace due to the short suit lead. What the heck, I continue with the H:K. I want her to win the trick, so that's the best card. LHO does win her no-longer-putative ace, and RHO follows with the H:8. And LHO does have a problem. After about two minutes, she judges to exit with a club. I win, pitching my spade, pitch a diamond on the other club, and take a diamond finesse. I don't have much hope for this, but you never know.

LHO wins the D:K and exits with a diamond. RHO plays the D:9, and I win in hand. I cash another high trump, and RHO plays the ten. I suddenly have another problem. Does RHO have H:1098 tight or H:108 doubleton? Or neither and is playing with my mind? How can I tell? RHO is an honest sort, but everyone can play randomly from 1098 from time to time. There must be a clue...yes, I have it. If LHO had ace-empty-fourth of trumps, she might well have exited with a trump. I think she has ace-nine-fifth. She's known to have two spades, so if she has five trumps, my only chance is for her to be 2533 exactly. I think she is. The diamonds look to be 3-3 from the play of the spots. I don't know about clubs, but I'm going to go for it. I continue with a diamond to dummy as both follow. I ruff a club, and exit with the H:5. When RHO pitches a club, I claim holding the H:J7 over LHO's H:93.

Down one isn't the world's greatest triumph, but it's the best I could have done. When the traveler is opened, we have managed a half a point above average. Most were going down one in 2H: or 3H:. Tough way to get an average.

Copyright © 2003 Jeff Goldsmith