Playing in a sectional pairs game, the field isn't all
that strong, but they've been great against us, so it's
clear that I'm playing for pride, not finish. I pick up:
Q42 8762 K10863 7.
With no one vulnerable, partner deals and opens 2,
Flannery, showing four spades, five hearts, and 11-15 HCP.
RHO takes only her ten seconds, but clearly shows interest in
the proceedings. With this partner, I play that jumps to
the three-level are "blocking," preemptive in nature, although
not necessarily made on very weak hands. This hand seems to
fit that definition. Should I do it or just bid 2?
One of the advantages of Flannery is that it's very hard
to know when to balance. After 2-2, do the
opponents have a good fit and no values or near-game values
and a misfit? Guess wrong and trouble ensues. As a result,
I'm reluctant to jump, just in case 8 tricks is the limit,
but I'm dead certain that RHO will balance if I bid only 2,
so I might as well make her decide at the 4-level. I bid 3,
and partner alerts and explains. RHO has no trouble passing this,
so I get to play there.
After the opening lead of a small club, I find this dummy:
I guess I'm happy I preempted. They'd surely bid 3
and probably make it. If they bid 4, we'd have to
double to get any matchpoints, but which of our hands is
going to want to double?
Anyway, now my goal is to make 3. The club lead
goes to the K, and RHO tries to cash the A.
Perhaps it's right to let this trick hold, but I don't
exactly have a lot of entries to my hand, so I ruff and
lead a trump. LHO plays the K. Partner reaches
for the A, but I caution him to stop. LHO is not
a very imaginative player, and the tempo suggests that
the K is a true card. If so, I have a trump loser.
Is there anything to gain by letting the K hold?
Perhaps there is. LHO is going to have to lead something
that will give me a trick. It's not clear I can use a
diamond trick right now, but maybe she won't work it out
and will try something else. After a little thought, I
play the 9 from dummy, and LHO starts to think.
Good! That means it was a singleton trump. Phew!
She thinks and she thinks. Out comes a low diamond, rats!
I would've liked to see a black card. I play low from dummy
and win RHO's 9 with the 10. I'm still a
bit short of entries to hand, so if I were to draw trumps
and exit diamonds, I'd be sure to lose at least one spade
and maybe two. A 3-3 break or doubleton K on the
right will be good enough to make the contract. I think
I can do better. I continue with a diamond and LHO wins
the A. She continues with another diamond. Maybe
diamonds are 3-3. I pitch a spade on the diamond, hoping
RHO will follow suit. No, sadly, she ruffs and exits with
a trump. I can claim now, drawing trump and returning to
my hand with my 8 to pitch two more spades on the
diamonds. Making 9 tricks.
RHO had three hearts and two diamonds. It seems as if
she had five clubs (she'd've bid with six and had nothing
to think about with four) so it looks as if spades were 3-3.
Rats. It'd've been great if they were 4-2. Just to be sure,
I ask how the spades were. Yes, 3-3, but the K was
offside, so I couldn't do any better than nine tricks. That
was a lot of work just to break even. At least spades were
not a doubleton King onside. That'd've been frustrating.
November 2, 1997