I'm playing in a regional pair game at nationals with an earnest
performer against unknown opponents. The bidding makes it clear
LHO has it out for me.
LHO truly belted out 3NT. He appears to be very unhappy his partner
didn't double. Looks like he was out to get me in 1.
Partner's lead is the 5. Declarer pitches a
diamond from dummy, and I win while declarer contributes the 8.
That looks scary. Continuing spades is right out. Declarer has three
or four spade tricks. But what else can he have? Outside of spades,
there's only ten HCP available, and partner should have most of them
for his cue bid. Why didn't partner open a weak two in diamonds? He
must have only five of them. He clearly has exactly three spades. So
he's either 3-2-5-3 or 3-3-5-2. That makes declarer either 5-2-5-1 or
Looks like the goal of this hand is to keep declarer out of his hand.
Not only does that cut him off from his spade tricks, but it will prevent
him from leading a diamond up. It's probably worth a few tricks to
Clearly at this point, I need to play a round suit. I can't afford a club;
if declarer has stiff ten, a club play will be a disaster. Since I "know"
partner has the K, it looks safe to exit with a heart. Leading
into dummy's AQ98x isn't a normal play, but I think it's best.
When I do, declarer plays the 2 without any thought, and partner plays the
king as expected. If he had K73, he might have inserted the 7, since he has a
safe club exit, so I'm inclined to think that declarer is 5-2-5-1.
Declarer wins the A and after a little thought, plays the Q
off dummy. It might be right to duck this, but I think it's safe to win
it. When declarer follows with the 9, I know it is; if he had
109 or even 10x, he would have led low to force an entry to hand.
Come to think of it, I'm glad he didn't. I would have flown king anyway, just
to protect against stiff ten.
I am quite happy I have Roberto (the 2), but I'm a bit envious
of dummy's 4. I don't want to get endplayed with it, so my next
play is to compromise my heart tricks. I exit with the J. Declarer
follows, so my count is accurate. Lucky for me, declarer builds another
heart trick next, continuing with the 9. I have him now. I win
and continue hearts. Declarer wins and cashes a high club; I unblock
the 7. He runs his hearts, cashes another club, and "exits" with
the 5. Not me. I contribute my carefully preserved deuce, and
declarer has to give the last two tricks to my partner for one down.
Had the 5 and 4 been swapped, I would have had to unblock
in two suits to avoid the gambit. As it was, one was easy enough, and
I'm glad declarer didn't think of end playing me until it was too late.
Copyright © 2019 Jeff Goldsmith