Don't Send a Boy
Playing in our money game, I have won all the matches going into
the last one when I
pick up K942 KQ95 97 AK4. It's a minimum
strong notrump, but it qualifies, so I open 1NT. The bidding
is simple. Partner Staymans and we end up in 4. I get
the opening lead of the 5 and see that the contract is
Just to blow some smoke, I put up the 10 from dummy
at trick 1. RHO covers with the queen, and I win. It looks
as if I have to lose at least two aces and a trump trick,
and if the A is offside or trumps don't behave, I
won't make it. It's possible to take a safety play in
trumps either way, but I don't know if I can afford that
or which way to take it. I think I need to learn more
about the hand first, so I lead the 9 towards dummy
and put up the K. It holds.
Hmmm. Maybe I can get two diamonds, two clubs, one heart,
two diamond ruffs, and a club ruff. I'm sure to get the
top trumps---that's ten tricks and doesn't depend on
the hearts or on trumps breaking. I'll need something
good in diamonds and no quick ruffs or anything. If something
bad happens, someone could be ruffing with a long trump and
I may be able to fall back on hearts in the end, so I fancy
this approach. I don't want to release my heart stopper
yet, so I cross back to hand with a club. LHO plays the
3 which makes clubs look like they are 5-3. I play
another diamond. LHO rises. RHO has followed up the line
in diamonds, so it also looks like diamonds are 4-3, but I'm
not as confident about that as the clubs. If it's true,
I should be able to ruff a diamond safely and continue with
LHO exits with a club, which I ruff in dummy. It looks safe
to cash the Q now, which I do, pitching a heart. I'll
try the fourth diamond now. If the ruff passes off, all I
need is to be able to score one heart trick and guess trumps
in the end, which should be easy. If the diamond gets overruffed,
maybe LHO will be ruffing with his trump trick. He might find
it tough to exit with a trump from Qx, too, so I may gain on
the roundabout. The cards are currently:
I suddenly have an idea for a slight improvement.
If RHO follows to the diamond, maybe LHO has a stiff trump three.
It costs nothing to ruff with the four instead of the two, and
it's possible that it might win. Yeah right, but it's free. I
lead the last diamond from the dummy. Disappointment! RHO
follows. I continue with my plan and ruff with the 4.
LHO goes into the tank...and pitches a heart! That's interesting.
I try the K, and LHO thinks, but we are double-dummy now:
LHO might as well duck the heart, but I just continue with another.
He can try to cash a winning heart, but his partner has to ruff
and exit with a trump honor. Since I know RHO is 4243 exactly,
it's easy to win in dummy and take the marked spade finesse for
ten tricks. Or LHO could exit with a trump, but I can win and
force RHO to ruff a heart and lead into dummy's trump tenace.
Not surprisingly, declarer at the other table didn't bring
this home, so my team wins 12 IMPs and the last match by 9.
It's nice to sweep.
I don't think I've ever seen this small an improvement in a
line matter before. It was particularly curious because the
size of the cards was so small. I guess the moral of the story
is "don't send a boy to do a very slightly bigger boy's job."
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Goldsmith