Both Sides Now
Playing a knockout team event against five pros and
a client, in the second half, I encounter a hand with interesting play
at each of the two tables.
At favorable vulnerability, I deal and pick up
1086 K4 AK64 AJ73.
Fortunately, we are playing weak notrumps in this
position, so I open 1. I say "fortunately,"
because the bidding progresses
Partner probably doesn't have much, and I'd've been
doubled in 1NT, so I'm glad I escaped so easily,
particularly looking at dummy:
Dummy wonders out loud if he has overbid after I lead the A.
I think that's currently a matter of style; some play
that a simple raise to 2 just shows a decent fit
and isn't forward-going. Others play that 2 is
a mild game invitation, so 3 is a stronger one.
In that style, which is probably "standard," dummy is
a bit light.
Partner produces a discouraging diamond at trick one,
and I have a defensive problem. Three tricks seem obvious,
but from where will appear the fourth? It's possible that
we could have a spade trick (a second club loser will
disappear on the Q), but partner is
likely to have at most a Queen. If it's the Jack tripleton
of trumps, this contract has no chance, but otherwise,
declarer should be able to make it. It's possible that
partner has 109x, in which case, we can give
declarer a guess in the trump suit. Partner will falsecard
on the first round and declarer might try to pin doubleton
109 of trumps. For that, he'll need two entries to his hand.
I cash a second diamond, partner's contributing the 9,
and play a spade. Declarer thinks
for a second and goes up with the A. Partner plays
an encouraging spade, so partner's card is the Q.
Declarer thinks for a little while and puts the K
on the table. He's obviously trying to build an entry
to hand to take a heart finesse. It looks as if partner
has three diamonds, so declarer is almost surely 2443.
That means we have no spade trick, so our only chance is
to get a trump trick. For that to happen, declarer will
need two entries to his hand, so I shall let him have them.
I win the A and continue with another spade. Partner
completes his echo and declarer drops the J.
Declarer ruffs a spade to hand and takes a trump finesse.
Partner drops the 9 on this trick. Good news!
Declarer goes into a very long study. I'm pretty sure I
have the whole hand worked out; it is
plus or minus a spot or two. Declarer returns to his hand
with the high club, cashes the Q pitching a club, and goes into a
further tank. The position is:
Declarer leaves the tank appearing very sure of himself
and plays the J. I cover, perforce, and we take
a second trump trick for down one. Winning the K
was necessary or declarer would have had no choice but
to make the hand.
When the 10 didn't drop, declarer's body language
looked like he thought he'd've had no chance if it didn't,
that the alternate play would have failed. Perhaps he
didn't know the 7 was high?
At the other table, the bidding proceded differently; my
hand had the opportunity to make a takeout double of hearts.
My teammate was pretty sure that I had only two hearts, but
was concerned about disposing of the last diamond. If the
98 dropped, he'd be home free, but what if it didn't?
He envisioned the hand's being:
The defense also started with two rounds of diamonds and
a spade switch. He cashed two high spades and ruffed a
spade to hand. He took the trump finesse and cashed the
A. A third round of trumps would have given my
hand an insoluble problem in this position:
What do I discard? Not a spade, or the 4 would
be good. Not a diamond, or the 7 would score.
Ergo, I must loose a club. Then, after testing diamonds,
declarer can lead a club to the K and duck a club
to my now blank A for his tenth trick. That's a
funny sort of squeeze without the count---there are two
menaces without an entry. As it turned out, of course,
the diamond spots dropped and he cashed the 7 to
make ten tricks for a vulnerable game swing.
The squeeze was played by Michael
Schreiber of Los Angeles.
June 15, 1998