>From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"A Hail Mary pass is a very long forward pass in American football, made in
desperation with only a small chance of success...."
On board 18 from the ACBL Charity Game Wednesday Nov 5, declarer might have
rescued himself from a desperate situation.
♠ A K Q 5
♥ 9 8 7
♦ J 8
♣ Q J 6 2
♠ 8 ♠ J 7 4 3 2
♥ J 10 6 4 3 ♥ K 5
♦ 9 5 2 ♦ 7
♣ 10 7 5 3 ♣ A K 9 8 4
♠ 10 9 6
♥ A Q 2
♦ A K Q 10 6 4 3
North East South West
— Pass 1C 1S
2D Pass 2NT Pass
6NT(!) Pass Pass Dbl
North could see good chances for a slam, but was reluctant to bid it in
diamonds, fearing a spade lead through partner. To protect partner's spade
stopper, North gambled with a very optimistic six no-trump. Not the best
decision on this hand. When West doubled, North resigned himself to his fate
and passed: down one.
But North should have thought more about the bidding.
Clearly, West has two black-suit tricks to cash, and six no-trump is going
down for sure. So why not try the "Hail Mary" bid of seven diamonds? As it
happens, West's two tricks(unexpectedly) are the club ace-king. What does
West do when seven diamonds comes around to him?
Scenario 1: West doubles.
A double of seven diamonds would be a "Lightner" double, saying "don't lead
my suit" and strongly suggesting that East lead dummy's suit--clubs. This
looks like the hand for it, as West certainly doesn't want a spade lead!
So suppose West doubles, and East obediently leads a low club. North's best
shot is to play low from dummy, and now West needs to play the eight or
nine: if he plays an honour, North ruffs, draws trumps, ruffs out West's
other honour, finesses the heart, and makes his contract, scoring seven
diamonds, three spades, two hearts, and a club.
Playing a middle club might be disastrous, though. What if North had held
the singleton ten of clubs, East having led from three small? Oops! Only if
East leads an inspired club ten(!) at trick one will West be spared this
excruciating guess. But don't look for this to happen.
Scenario 2: West passes.
Now East will lead his spade. North's best shot is to lead a low club from
dummy, and West again has to guess whether to play a club honour or a middle
West was a strong player, and might well have made the winning play in
clubs. But it wouldn't be easy.
Two lessons can be drawn here:
(1) When the situation is desperate, don't go down without a fight. Here,
North obviously has no chance to make six no-trump, and has the right type
of hand for a "Hail Mary."
(2) When your opponent has clearly overreached with a powerful hand, take
the "bird in the hand." West should reason that few if any Norths will take
the big gamble of bidding six no-trump. Clearly, North has an unusual hand
with a ton of diamonds and outside strength. Seven diamonds might have been
cold in several ways: South might have held held two hearts instead of
three, or queen-jack-ten of clubs; North might have held eight diamonds, and
so on. Setting six no-trump undoubled should be a top or near-top, so why be