Five or Four
Playing in the fourth quarter of a tight Spingold match,
I pick up a pretty good hand.
A AK1076 104 AJ752
In third seat, I open 1. Partner bids Drury.
Can we have a slam? Sure, give him Qxxx and
the AK and either two clubs or three to the
109, or any four, and we are big favorites. A grand
is even possible, but he'd have to have perfect cards,
and I'm not willing to try for it. On the other hand,
I don't have to. We play a useful convention. If I
bid 2 and he bids 2, 4 by me is a
5-5 slam try. He should then know if he has useful cards.
I think I'll sign off over a Last Train 4, but if
he moves past game, slam should be good.
With other partners, I can bid 3 directly to show
length and interest in slam, but we are a new partnership
and haven't discussed that sequence. I am a little leery
of trying it, but I know we have discussed the other
sequence, because I read it in our notes this morning.
So I try 2 and jump to 4. Partner bids Blackwood,
finds we are off an ace and the trump queen, and subsides in
5. Oh, well. Still, 11 tricks should be easy.
Or maybe not. Partner post-alerts 4 and explains it
as a splinter. Whoops. Double whoopsthat means the hand
that got him excited is the worst possible hand for me. I
hope he has four small clubs. I correct his explanation for
the opponents, and he insists that he's right and that I'm
nuts. I don't see how this is going to help, so I let it drop,
but later I show him page 2 of our system notes where this
sequence is covered.
The opening lead is a small diamond, and dummy is as bad
as I feared, or maybe even worse.
Yep, worse. Only one entry and nothing in clubs. I suppose
I should be thankful for the club spots. If I can get to
dummy twice and the 10 and a high honor is onside,
I can pick up the club suit for one loser. I need to avoid
losing a trump, though.
I put up the K, which, of course, loses to the
A, and a small spade comes back. Looks like my
bidding helped them more than it helped us.
How can I manage 11 tricks? I absolutely need two dummy
entries, so I guess the only chance I have is to find the
Q doubleton. If that happens and clubs behave, I
have 11 tricks. A thought occurs to meif that's really
the layout and the Q is doubleton offside, I shall
make 5 and declarer at the other table might well
go down in 4! Clearly his best chance is for clubs
3-2 and no heart loser, so he'll use his entry for a trump
I see nothing better, so I cash two high hearts. Hot dog!
The Q comes tumbling down on my left. Visions of
gaining 13 IMPs are swirling in my head. I cross to the J,
run the 9 and pray. Unsuccessfully. LHO wins the 10
and continues with the K. I concede down one.
Maybe it's not so bad after all. At the other table, maybe
declarer will still go down in game. It was not to be. My
teammate, on a far less revealing auction, led the K.
They had a signalling mishap, and when he continued with a
second club, declarer slammed down the top trumps to avoid
a possible club ruff. He was gratified with an overtrick.
I guess the 13 IMPs were there after all, just not in the
direction I had imagined.
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Goldsmith