Stupidest. Play. Ever.
Playing in the second session of the Blue Ribbon pairs, we have
a simple auction to 3NT.
The opening lead is the 7. I have 11 top tricks.
I can run my tricks and see if I learn anything; perhaps
I'll know that the same player has the A and K,
in which case, he'll be strip-squeezed and I can force a
12th trick. The opponents are supposedly capable, so it's
unlikely I'll know for certain, which means I'll probably
cash out for five. On the other hand, these opponents are
good enough that they may stiff the K to avoid the
endplay; even if I don't know it is happening, I may get a
But. Why did LHO lead top-of-nothing? It's matchpoints and
he obviously doesn't have very much, so he just wanted to avoid
giving away a trick, but why did he lead from nothing in clubs
instead of spades? Most players prefer to lead a major against
3NT, all things being equal. That suggests that opening leader
has a spade honor, or he would have led from nothing in spades.
If his honor is the A, leading to the K will net
me a 12th trick. If his honor is the Q or J, RHO
won't know to continue spades; he'll probably shift to a diamond.
I can then hop and take my 11 tricks. Of course, if RHO has all
the spades, he'll laugh at me as he runs the suit. Is that likely?
No, I think my reasoning is sound. Of course, I'd never consider
risking a cold game at IMPs, but at matchpoints, the twelfth trick
should be very valuable. So I go for it. I lead a small spade
to the K and RHO tries to stifle a laugh. Unsuccessfully.
Uh, oh. He runs his five spades without any trouble at all and
sets me one in 3NT.
That didn't work out very well, but I think the reasoning is
sensible. It sure looked, however, like the stupidest play ever.
Copyright © 2007 Jeff Goldsmith