I haven't played much bridge this year; in fact, Reno
is the second tournament I've played seriously all year.
I'm very rusty; I'm not playing anywhere near my best, but
we have a good team for the KOs. We beat a very
good team in the first round. In the finals, we are playing
another pro team. We are definitely not getting the best of
it when I pick up
AQJ32 105 K742 86
With no one vulnerable, RHO opens 2 in 2nd chair.
With partner's being a passed hand, the upside of bidding
here is somewhat limited, but I'm short in hearts and have
the spade suit, so I try a light overcall of 2.
LHO competes to 3, and partner bids 3NT. We are
too high, but we are not vulnerable, so I pass in tempo.
LHO knows better and doubles. I'm chicken, so I run to
4---at least no one has to see this crummy dummy.
I get doubled and the A lead.
I stepped in it. I don't blame partner for bidding
3NT. Sadly, he would surely have taken 7 tricks
in 3NT, and I don't think I have much of a chance of down 2
in this spot, but ...
The A wins and West shifts to a middle heart.
I try ducking this, but East wins her J and
continues clubs. West wins and plays another heart.
I win in dummy and play a diamond. East pauses briefly
and plays the Q, which I cover. My king loses to
the ace and a small diamond is returned to the J.
The K, of course, appears. I ruff high and take
Let's reconstruct the hand.
How are the clubs split? ... I don't remember. I wasn't
paying enough attention; I was busily worrying about how
many IMPs I've cost my team. Oops. How about trumps?
If they are 4-1, this is going to be so bloody that I
don't want to think about it, so I'll assume they are 3-2.
How about diamonds? East either has QJ tight or
three of them. The flicker might have been her trying to
remember her splitting convention or thinking about
false carding, or simply deciding whether or not to split
at all. Hearts are obviously 2-6.
I have (I hope) five trumps and two red tricks for seven.
If diamonds are 3-3 (I've not yet seen the 8), I have eight
tricks, or I can possibly ruff a diamond in dummy if East
is 2-2 in the pointed suits. Or can I? Draw two rounds of
trump, cash a diamond, ruff a club, ruff a diamond, ruff a
club. That works if East is 2623 exactly, but not if she's
3622. What if she has three trumps? If she's 3622, I have
a trump squeeze against West. On the third round of trumps,
won in dummy, he'll be squeezed. That'll also work if diamonds
are 3-3 or even if RHO is 2623. Drawing trumps is best if I
can work out the distribution. West pitched a club on the
third heart...which one? I can't believe I'm not paying
attention to the cards well enough to be able to claim up
this hand. I guess I'll play the hand as if I know what I
am doing; maybe the discard on the third trump will tell me
what to do.
I cash two high trumps in my hand. To my relief, both follow.
On the third round of trumps, East pitches a heart. Crap. If
she'd had the third trump, I'd be pretty sure from West's pitch
what to do. He's an expert, but he probably isn't prepared for
defence against a trump squeeze. The position is
West has either one diamond and two clubs or two diamonds
and one club. East has two hearts and a minor suit card.
For the life of me (and 200 pretty important points), I
can't tell which it is. The 7 is no distraction;
I'm not getting a beer on this hand no matter what after
volunteering for a number. So do I want a trump squeeze
that I can't talk about and maybe blow a trick when diamonds
are breaking, or do I want to blow a trump squeeze but make
when diamonds are 3-3? Blech. Why don't I know how clubs
split? West didn't seem to have any problem discarding on
the third round of hearts. If he'd been trump squeezed, he'd've
surely thought about it. East thought before playing the Q.
That's inconclusive, but together, I'm going to guess to play
for 3-3 diamonds. I'm going to feel like a dummy either way
if I'm wrong...I think it's slightly more likely that diamonds
are 3-3, but I'd prefer to have a trump squeeze...no, I want to
win, not feel good.
After an agonizing huddle, I try cashing Big Casino. Wrong.
I go for -500. Argh. Time to practice more.
Fortunately (?), we lose the match by a bit more than this
board. My poor bid cost us four IMPs; my poor play cost us
four more. I guess I should have played for the trump squeeze;
at least I'd've had that if I were right.
There's an interesting feature to the squeeze.
At trick 7, East led the K, ruffed high. No rounds
of trumps have been drawn, but the opponents have managed
a suicide trump squeeze in three suits, one of which is trumps!
West can't "discard" a trump, or I can ruff a diamond after
drawing trumps. A club pitch lets me set up clubs, and a diamond
pitch sets up a beer. Wow. Too bad that I both blew it and
was way too high anyway. As partner said later, "it'd've been
a much more interesting position if the contract had been 2."
Jan. 3, 2000