What Were Your Clubs?
Playing in the Blues with a partner who is usually sound,
I pick up in fourth chair
KQ6 AJ4 AQ108 A87
Partner opens a strong notrump and RHO
preempts with 3. I have a problem. I
could make a negative double, hoping partner will pass,
but the vulnerability is unfavorable, so we will need to
take 11 tricks to beat a slam. That seems unlikely, so
I just blast 6NT, which rates to be the field spot.
Partner has to play 6NT, and it is not cold.
Partner tries to get four tricks in diamonds, then
cashes all his winners and tries to endplay the 3
bidder in clubs. He is able to cash a heart for down one.
Remarkably, this is about an average score.
Immediately after the play is done, West and I simultaneously
ask my partner "what were your clubs?" We each wanted to know
if he had the 9 or not, as there is a great
end position available; which it is depends on whether
or not he holds that card.
The whole hand actually was
Declarer should first play three rounds of spades and
two rounds of hearts to try to get a count on the hand.
If nothing useful comes of that, he can cash the top two
diamonds. This time, the preemptor show up with exactly
two spades and one diamond. Before cashing the third
heart, declarer must cash the last spade, throwing a
diamond from dummy, then cash the A. This brings
everyone down to four cards. It's time to guess West's
distribution. If he was 2317, then cashing the last
heart winner and ducking a club will endplay him for
the 12th trick. If he was 2416 and has not discarded
a heart, then a club ducked to him will provide a long
club trick. If he has discarded a heart, a club ducked
to him will endplay him. It's necessary to cash all the non-heart
winners before the last heart in order to protect against West's
2416 shape. He is squeezed out of the fourth heart or
the club guard only if a high heart is kept to draw
the last heart from his hand. If not, he can keep
a good heart and the Kx and never can be endplayed.
The question about the club spots was because of this
potential position, which could have arisen if the
3 and 9 were switched:
When the last heart is cashed, West is one-suit squeezed.
If he discards the 6, a club can just be ducked to
him. If he discards one of the middle clubs, then the 9
is covered with the Q, endplaying West to lead from
his K6 to dummy's A8 for the last two tricks.
Copyright © 2001 Jeff Goldsmith