First and Last
Playing in the national Fast Pairs, we only have 11
minutes a round for two boards. Personally, I think
10 or 9 is quite sufficient, but this will do. It's
nice to be done by 7PM and have a nice dinner without
having to play at uncivilized hours.
The first and last rounds of a large tournament are
always the hardest in which to concentrate. In the
first round, one may not have one's full focus ready
to bear yet; in the last round, if one is winning, finding
out the scores is very exciting who can wait? If we
are losing, who cares about the last round? We've come
close to winning this event every time, so I promise myself
to focus on every board.
On the first board of the event, I'm posed with a few
problems. I hold 83 AQ752 K108 Q97. Partner
opens 1, and I respond a forcing 1NT. He rebids
2, and I have a choice to make. A 5-3 heart fit
will likely play better than a 6-2 spade fit, so I leave
some wiggling room by bidding 2NT instead of a more
normal 3. Partner thrumps (bids 3NT), which ends
the auction. West leads the 6 and I see:
Looks like 3NT is a great spot. I play low from dummy
and RHO contributes the 3. Obviously, it's time
to knock out the A, so I do. East wins and shifts
to a low heart. I can't see any reason not to try the
finesse, and it holds. Cool. If spades break, I have
11 tricks and have already lost one. Squeeze time!
First I check to see if spades break by cashing another
high spade. They do. So I run off all the high spades
and the A, before crossing back to the K
in my hand. When I cash the A, if a squeeze is
there, it has operated. The ending is
Lots of good stuff could have happened. In practice,
hearts were 2-5, so a simple double squeeze around
diamonds occurred. Making six for a fine matchpoint
We qualify easily and are running a good game in the
finals. The last board also has both bidding and play
decisions. My partner picks up AQJ32 943 AKJ A6.
In first seat, I open a 10-12 1NT. He relays to find
my distribution, and when he learns it is 4333 exactly,
chooses to play 3NT. Or more precisely, chooses to let
me play 3NT. The opening lead is the 2.
We've played it from the wrong side, but it appears
that 3NT is better than 4. I win the opening lead
and play a few spades. Nothing exciting happens, so I
take the diamond finesse. It works. There's nothing to
do but lead a heart from dummy. RHO puts up the Q,
which I allow to hold. He exits with a diamond, so I
cash my last spade in this position:
Lo! and behold! East is squeezed in hearts and clubs.
It was very lucky to find him with five hearts and the
QJ, but it happens. We again make 12 tricks in
3NT for a near top board.
It's not quite enough. We end up third overall. Too
bad we didn't play any other hands in 3NT
with an 8 or 9 card major suit fit!
Copyright © 2002 Jeff Goldsmith