Playing in a Flight A matchpoint event has been
very frustrating today. Among other setbacks,
our opponents have twice preempted with a side
spade suit, once KQ83 and once QJ109x.
Not so bad, except that it worked out spectacularly
for them each time. It's the last board, and we
still have a shot at the money, even though we were
claiming a 35% game in the afternoon. (It turned
out above average.) I pick up
Q9 542 A9864 Q83
RHO opens the bidding with 1, gets
raised to two, then bids game, putting me
I figure that if he had a side four-card
heart suit, he would have bid 3 on
the way to game, hoping to find a 4-4 fit,
so a heart lead rates to be the least
damaging. Without any conviction, I lead
the 2. Dummy hits and I see
I'm glad I chose a heart; with a balanced
dummy, a passive defense looks best.
On the first trick, partner plays the K
(rats!), and declarer wins the Ace. He cashes
the A and plays a spade to the table,
looking happy. Partner high-lows in trumps,
so I know she has three. Declarer leads a
diamond off the table and starts to think
when partner plays low. He emerges with the
J, and now it's my time to think.
What's going on? Declarer has five trumps
and obviously has the KJ. He has at
least two hearts and at most three. If he
had a four-card suit, I think he might not
be so fast to draw two rounds of trumps, so
I think his shape is 5323 exactly. That means
he has the A at least---four points in
spades, six in hearts, and four in diamonds is
only fourteen. The A is enough for him
to bid 4, but he might have another
Jack. He doesn't have both or he probably
would have opened 2NT. Come to think of it,
why didn't he rebid 3NT? I suppose the diamonds
are a worry, but if he had the J, I think
he'd be sure to. I think he doesn't have it.
Or maybe he just didn't think of 3NT? Hmmm...
this contract is quite cold; declarer has five
spade tricks, two heart tricks, two diamond tricks
(although he doesn't know it yet), and two clubs.
We are getting at least one trick. I guess the
goal is to hold down the second overtrick. If
declarer has the J, there's no hope; he's
going to claim 12 tricks in a trice, so I have
to play partner for that card. If declarer has
the 10, he has a finesse against partner's
J, but he probably doesn't think that'd
work---not too many lead from three small. What
if partner has both the J10? The only
obvious chance for 12 tricks is a possible club
finesse, but there's a less-obvious one. If
declarer plays this hand from the top, he's
going to luck into a non-simultaneous double
squeeze if the deal was this:
My heart spots can't cover the third
card in declarer's hand, I have to guard diamonds,
so no one will be able to cover clubs. Declarer
should probably play for this even if he thinks the
(potential) heart finesse is working, because it
offers the extra chance that I am the sole guard
of clubs. This is bad. I think, however, that I
can do something about it. If I play a club,
the entries for the double squeeze will be broken,
but if I play a small one, I'll have sole guard
of both minors unless partner has both the J
and the 10.
I can do better. If I shift to the Q now,
declarer can make 12 tricks in the above deal only
by playing partner for the J and trying to
squeeze him in hearts and clubs. That seems much
less likely than trying to get me in the minors,
so I'm sure he'll fail if I do it.
I emerge from my tank, win the A, and put the Q on the
table. Declarer gives this a little thought. Good!
That means he doesn't likely have the J. If
he has the 109, maybe I'll will a trick for
Alas, declarer wins the A in hand, cashes
the K, sits up, and draws the last trump.
He then thinks again, cashes the 10 and
takes a heart finesse for 12 tricks. He had the
10 after all. Phooey.
I guess my play was as the right time, but in
the wrong place. Most declarers are going to
bid 3NT instead of 4 and play there.
A reasonable line might be to win the diamond
lead, take a spade finesse, and hook the Q.
Now, when he continues a high diamond, my hand
has to either duck twice in diamonds or win and continue the Q
in order to hold them to 11 tricks. Then, I'd've
won a full board swing. Oh, well. We needed a
top here to score, so it's time to go home. What
a frustrating day.
Dec. 17, 1997