Last summer, I found a very nice Derek Jeter shirt in a store along the Las Vegas strip. I'm back for another regional, and in the hope that the store had more shirts like it, I walked there this morning but was disappointed.

In the semi-finals of today's compact knockout, my RHO says, "I like your shirt. I have one just like it." "Thank you. I found it in a store here last summer at the regional." "I found mine at an airport."

In the finals, we are playing some friends. LHO recently went over 10,000 masterpoints. By the last hand, I think we are reasonably ahead, but not by enough that I can be sure, when I see

S: K106
H: K72
D: A532
C: K75
S: QJ2
H: AJ1064
D: 8
C: AJ109
3NT showed about 12-15 HCP and 4-3-3-3 shape. The opening lead was the D:K, made without apparent thought.

I see two reasonable lines. I can draw trumps and hope to lose only one spade, one heart, and one club. There is a danger, however, of losing control. If I lose a trump finesse, they will tap me with a diamond. Then when I lose the S:A, they will remove my last trump. I will then need to find the C:Q or possibly lose a diamond. But if I cash two high trumps, and trumps break 3-2 (or the H:Q comes down singleton), I don't need to guess anything. They can win the S:A, draw a round of trumps, and tap me, but I can just give up a club for ten tricks.

The other line is a dummy reversal. If I ruff three diamonds in hand and nothing is unfriendly, I can take two spades, two high trumps, the D:A, three diamond ruffs, and two high clubs. I'll have to ruff a diamond and play spades immediately. This runs the risk of spades 5-2, clubs 6-1, diamond overruffs, or discards on diamonds allowing the defense to ruff one of my high cards.

I estimate the two lines as a wash, but they'll likely try to draw trumps at the other table, so if I don't want a swing, I should take that line. It's also likely to generate more overtricks when successful, and I have an idea for the later play that will be fun, so I start with the H:K and another heart. The H:Q appears on my right on the second round, so 4H: is now cold, and I'm playing for overtricks.

I need to find the C:Q to make six. To that end, I start by leading the S:J. LHO plays low pretty fast. He appears mildly surprised when it wins. So I next lead the C:J. LHO plays low in tempo, but a little slower and a little differently than on the spade. I am sure he has the C:Q! So I run the C:J, and it holds. After a second club finesse, I have twelve tricks.

Many years ago, Terence Reese wrote a column describing nearly the same play. This is the first time I have ever seen it in practice. It worked for him, too.

We win one IMP on the board, but it didn't matter as we won the match by a few more than that. Too bad I didn't find another Derek Jeter shirt to wear tomorrow.

Copyright © 2014 Jeff Goldsmith