On the Tablecloth
Playing in a regional pairs event at the Pasadena nationals,
we come to the table of a noted expert, distinguished by the
presense of a tablecloth, the only one in the room. I pick
up in third chair:
4 6 A862 AKQ10842
Partner opens 1, RHO, the expert, bids 4, and
I have a problem. I try 6, which seems about what this
hand is worth, and all pass. Dummy hits and, perhaps coincidentally,
I am in a fine contract.
The lead is the 2, which righty wins with the Ace, fooling
no one. She thinks for a little while and returns the 3,
which I think is a mistake, but we shall see. I think a diamond
would probably be best, or perhaps a heart, but my hand is entirely
unknown to her at trick two.
| AK1063 |
| 4 |
How are my chances? I have seven club tricks and two Ace-Kings, for
eleven tricks. If spades are 4-3 or QJ doubleton, I have twelve tricks,
which is about 65%, so I have a chance. Is that likely? Hearts are
known from the lead to be 7-3. It looks like trumps are 2-1 and there
is no void on the right due to the absence of a Lightner slam double.
East could be 3-7-2-1, so establishing spades looks like a good shot.
Are there any other chances? Yes! If West has five spades and East has
the top three hearts, there will be a double squeeze around diamonds.
That is why a diamond return would have been best, forcing me to give
up the double squeeze, though it would leave me will the possibility
of a simple squeeze against West in spades and diamonds. That would
require East to be 2-7-2-2, which is possible, but unlikely.
Alternatively, West could have QJ10, which would account for
East's reluctance to play diamonds.
My next move ought to be to test spades and see what I can find out
about the hand, so I play the 8, covered with the 9, and won
with the Jack. Top spade, spade ruffed high, and 5 to the seven
have drawn trumps, East pitching a heart on the second club. I cash
the other top spade, and righty pitches another heart. I pitch a
diamond and take stock. I need a squeeze. East was clearly
2-7-3-1. That means a simple squeeze in the pointed suits will not
work, so I am reduced to a double squeeze, hoping East has the AKQ.
What if she doesn't? The J will be a one-card menace against
both opponents, which is normally worthless, but just in time, I realize
that West will be under pressure in three suits. If he misses the squeeze
and pitches his heart honor, I'll have my double squeeze, but I remember
that the doubly-guarded one-card menace is an element in the double
guard squeeze, a rare bird indeed. What does that need? I need West to
have two of the top three diamonds. Let's try it, but I shall need to be
careful. I run the clubs, pitching one spade and (careful, now) the
nine of diamonds, leaving:
On the last club, West is pickled. A spade is obviously fatal, and
a diamond allows me to cross to the K, dropping his Queen
and finessing against partner's Jack on the way back, so he pitches
the Q. I toss the spade from dummy and East is squeezed in
hearts and diamonds, so she concedes the rest.
| 10 |
| Q |
| --- |
| --- |
Copyright © 1992 Jeff Goldsmith