Prayer Almost Answered
Playing IMP pairs in a new partnership with a player who is said
to be a very lucky man, I encountered a hand in which my
confidence in our partnership was not up to
the task of reaching the right contract.
I held A2 Q10987 AKQ97 2 and opened 1.
Partner responded 2, which we were playing as game
forcing except for some situations that I didn't yet know.
The auction continued:
So far, I know that he has three-card heart support and
a minimum opening bid. He expresses little interest in
slam, knowing that I have at least ten red cards and
some extra values. I should probably pass, but it is
very hard to envision a hand that doesn't have at least
some play for slam, so I try Roman Key Card Blackwood, find
out that he has two key cards (probably an ace and the K)
and I decide to go for slam anyway. There are hands on which there
will be no play, but I can also see hands where 6 is cold,
so I await the dummy with some anticipation.
The dummy turns out to be almost as bad as it can get; much of his
values are wasted opposite my singleton:
Worse still, they find the lead of the K, so I am in big
trouble. After a non-spade lead, I would make 6 most of
the time, but now I am in grave danger of losing two tricks very
| 103 |
| A2 |
Preemptively, I apologize to partner for having overbid,
yet another time.
While I am thinking about the hand, partner asks me, all sweetness
and light, if I thought that his sequence, 2, then 3,
then 4, was encouraging toward slam. Being slightly annoyed
that my bidding has led me to a bad spot, I snap back, ``of course
not. Just shut up and pray.'' After the hand, I apologized to him
for the rude comment, but in the meantime, I am helping him pray.
What do I need to make this? I shall need to ruff my little spade
in dummy and the only way to get a discard is on diamonds. For this
to happen, I shall need an opponent to have four diamonds and three hearts.
To that end, I draw one round of trump, cross back to the A,
all following, and draw a second round of trumps ending in dummy.
I continue with the 10, intending to run it, since I need
East (at this point) to have started with Jxxx.
Disaster! My prayers were answered: I had prayed for someone to hold
Jxxx and three trumps, but I had forgotten to specify that
it had to be East! My magic holding was in West's hand; on the
second round of diamonds, East discarded a small club.
I am going to go down, but at least my line of play has salvaged a
trick. I cash the top three diamonds and ruff them good with dummy's
last trump. I exit with the 10 (anyone asleep enough to duck
this and see me home? No.) and after they cash a spade, I can claim
for down one.
``Partner,'' I cry, ``great praying! If only the defending hands
had been interchanged, we would have made it. Next time, though,
let's pray a little more accurately.'' I then apologize for the earlier snap
while partner is laughing.
When seeing the scores, I note that I have tied a player who was
in five and failed to take the safety play against a 4-1 diamond
break and went down. It was still a loss, but at least we
didn't lose to everyone.
Copyright © 1993 Jeff Goldsmith