Like My Discard, Ma?
Playing in the first round of a sectional Swiss,
we encounter a mother/son pair. I deal myself
a pretty fair hand and am in game in short order.
I get the opening lead of the A, as partner
comments, "I almost didn't bid 2." I think
he did fine, despite 4's not being cold.
A trump looks like the best lead for them, even
though it appears to have blown a trump trick.
I play low from each hand, and LHO continues with
a second trump to her partner's J. I win,
of course. I start with one spade, four hearts,
one diamond, two clubs, and a spade ruff. That's
only nine tricks. On the upside, I only start
with two top losers. I really would have preferred
to ruff a few spades in dummy; oh, well.
What do I need to make this hand? I think it's going
to take either a squeeze or a black suit endplay on
LHO. A black suit squeeze is possible if LHO has four
clubs, but the timing will be tough; as soon as I play
a second club, LHO can win and play a third. There
aren't enough entries to squeeze RHO in the minors;
that would require two dummy entries, as it will have
to be a trump squeeze. What will it take to endplay
LHO? She'll have to have three clubs exactly so that
she is forced to hold up until the third round of
clubs. It looks like she has six spades (no raise),
and two hearts. If she has three clubs, she'll have
two diamonds, so I need to eliminate the diamonds.
I proceed: A, A, spade ruff, diamond
ruff. LHO drops the Q10 on the two rounds
of diamonds. I don't think she's being subtle. She
probably has two diamonds. Maybe three. I might as
well draw the last trump. To my great surprise, LHO
has the third one. RHO pitches the 3. How
odd. I guess my only hope is that LHO started with
5-3-2-3 exactly. If she has six spades, I am going
down. Hey, wait a sec! RHO pitched a club. If LHO
is 6-3-2-2, my fourth club will be good and reachable.
Looks like I'm cold now. So I continue with the Q,
which holds, and the J, which also holds. On
the third round of clubs, LHO wins and is endplayed.
I have to score my Q for a tenth trick. The
whole hand was
Partner looks pleased, but says, "I was sure you were
going to overtake the Q and ruff another diamond."
I reply, "in some variations, I would have, but at that
point, it only catered to LHO's having 5-3-3-3 shape exactly.
If RHO had shown up with the third trump, I'd have had to
guess if she had 6-2-2-3 or 5-2-3-3."
LHO is gnashing her teeth and stammering, trying to
figure out a way to blame this on her partner, when
he pipes up with, "like my club discard, Ma? I thought
you'd need to know the club count."
Once they leave the table, I start laughing. If RHO
had had the third trump, I might have had a real guess for
the contract. If I judged that LHO had six spades,
which seemed likely due to the lack of raise, I'd've
played a third club after the second one held, but
if I judged she had only five spades, I'd've had to
overtake the club and ruff a diamond. If I were wrong,
I might go down, because this gives LHO a chance to
discard her A! But not once RHO has pitched
his club winner! Of course, if I had judged to take
that line, I'd not play the J on the second
round, but he 8 instead, but had I misjudged
that it couldn't matter, I might have ended up losing
a trick to the 9. Except that RHO pitched its
support away, giving count.
Copyright © 2005 Jeff Goldsmith