Playing in a Sectional Tournament at Clubs (STaC) game
at a local club, my partner and I sit down against some friendly opponents.
I guess they think a lot of us, because my LHO says,
"maybe there'll be some real bridge played at this table."
Their auction is swift and dummy is impressive:
Partner emerges with a small diamond lead, a bit
to my surprise. Declarer thinks about this for
quite awhile, then rises with the A, dropping
the J from hand. That has to be a singleton.
Declarer is probably 5314; prospects look dire. On the
other hand, partner must have the J or why
would he not lead the fourth suit? Declarer must have
all the remaining high cards, so it's reasonable to
guess she has AKQ?x xxx J Qxxx. That's a pretty
minimal opening bid, but most would open it. It's possible
she has six spades or five clubs and therefore a doubleton
heart. The 3NT call would be distinctly odd with six spades
and no heart stopper, but I've seen stranger bids. If she's
5314, she has at least four spade tricks, two hearts, two diamonds,
and two clubs. Probably, she has five spades to make 11 tricks.
There will be a double squeeze around hearts; I don't see anything
we can do about it, so she'll make 12 tricks when I can't keep
clubs and hearts, and partner can't keep diamonds and hearts.
I don't know if this declarer will be up to cashing the K
early on, but I need to be concerned.
Declarer hasn't given the hand enough thought to be working
on double squeeze lines, I imagine. At trick two, she leads
the J from dummy. It holds, and partner plays a low one.
I don't know if partner is giving count or not, but if so,
declarer is 6214. She has six spades, two clubs and two
AKs for twelve tricks. Entries may be an issue. Next,
declarer leads the K from dummy. I play low in tempo.
There's no way I'm taking that one; I need to deprive her of
the entries for the double squeeze if she's 5314. She leads
the J from the table. Huh? I expected a low one; when
I duck this, she needs to overtake with the Q or she'll
never be back in her hand for the spades. If she were planning
to do that, she'd've led the small club. I happily (and hopefully
quickly) duck that, too. She doesn't overtake! The hand is about
to turn ugly for declarer. When partner shows out on the second
club, pitching a small spade (!), declarer stops and looks very
unhappy. She can still get home if she has the J, now;
she just cashes the other high diamond and plays a club. She
does not, luckily; she leads another club. I hop in with my A
on this one and return my last diamond. I hope partner covers this
as we are then sure to beat it at least two tricks. No, that does
not happen, but declarer wins and continues diamonds. Partner wins
this happily and cashes another diamond winner. He's kept a small
diamond, so he exits to dummy in that suit. Declarer cashes a high
heart; I unblock the 10. I'm pretty sure that declarer is
6214 now, so I'm ready to unblock the Q to get the maximum.
Declarer, instead, plays a low heart. I play the Q and
continue the suit. Partner claims the last trick with the J9
for down four!
Of course, this is a top board; everyone is making about
twelve tricks as spades are 3-3. Someone will probably go
down in 6 on a club ruff, but the traveler reveals
none so far. In any case, +400 will beat them. I'm a little
amused, as just last Sunday, I had to duck a club trick, losing
a trick in the suit (as here) in order to deprive declarer of
an entry to hand. We beat 1NT then, and while the defensive
play was not difficult, it was not duplicated, either.
I don't know if this qualifies as "real bridge," but it was
a fun hand for us.
Copyright © 2001 Jeff Goldsmith