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I am playing in a match pointed pairs club game with a first time partner against the strongest or next to strongest pair in the EW field. As fourth chair with all vulnerable, I, hold:
♠ KJ1087 ♥ Q2 ♦ A7 ♣ 9872
Dealer opens 1♦ . Partner doubles. The next chair passes. Holding enough to make game opposite a typical double, not enough to consider a slam unless partner holds a truly exceptional hand, and wanting to avoid misunderstandings in a first time partnership, I bid where I want to play, 4♠ . Three Passes conclude the auction, which has been:
N E S W
* P 4♠ P
The K♣ is led and this dummy appears:
In spite of partner’s judgement to * rather than overcall 1N, this looks to be a common contract. But we’re playing it from the less likely side. That has given us a chance to avoid a ♦ lead and the associated potential loser. I expect to take 11 tricks so long as a ♣ is not ruffed and I find the Q♠. I call for the 3 which draws the 5 and my 2. East continues with the A to dummy’s 4, the 6 and my 7. Then, the 10♣ appears. Dummy’s Q wins as the J and my 9 fall. I think about the hand for a moment and lead the 8♥ to the 4, my Q and the 3. I continue with the 7♠ to the 2, 6 and 4. The 8♠ fetches the 3, 9 and 2♥. Next, the A♠ gets the 3♦, my 10 and the 5. I lead the 4♦ to the 2, my A and the 6. The K♠ fells the Q as I discard the 5♦ from dummy and see the 8♦ from W. I claim as I can discard my losing 7♦ on the 3rd round of top ♥ and ruff back to my hand for the good 8♣. The full hand was:
♠ Q532 ♠ 4
♥ 93 ♥ J7654
♦ KJ106 ♦ 9832
♣ AK10 ♣ J65
Taking 11 tricks for +450 was a cold top. At the point where I had to decide how to play trump, what did I know about the hand? W has shown the AK♣. I’m placing the K♦ in W’s hand because without it, it’s a pretty poor opening and must then include Q♠. Plus, I would have gotten a ♦ switch at trick two without it. E has shown the J♣. There are still the Q♠ and both red J’s missing. W is a sound bidder. I’ve seen or placed 10 HCP in that hand. The Q♠ is more likely to be there than both red Js. W’s minor suit distribution is likely 4-3 although 5-3 is possible. The 3♣ by observation. The 4♦ because with 3-3 minor suit length W would have opened 1♣. If W’s majors are 3-3, it doesn’t matter how I play ♠s. But if they are 4-2, I need to play 2 rounds of ♠s through W and then the A and K. Since dummy and I hold all the key ♠ spot cards, I can run the 7, play low to the 9, the A, and return to hand to draw the last ♠ as I did.
There were 1 +420, 2 +400 ( 3N ), one +170, one +140, and 3 -50; all in 4♠. I don’t see how you stay out of game on this hand whether partner overcalls 1N or doubles. Apparently hand evaluation is still a mystery after generations of Goren point counting, Taking only 9 tricks means declarer
didn’t count the hand since everyone will open 13 HCP hands with a doubleton and a 4 card major. And, those are all the clues that you need to play 4♠ for 10 tricks or 11 if you get the ♠ right since you don’t want to duck a ♦ opening lead from E! If you do, you’ll lose the first 3 tricks and need to play the ♠s for no losers; i.e. as I did just to make the contract after losing the first 3 tricks.
As I said at the table, the hand is an open book. No ESP, hunches or guesses need apply. Just count!
Dr. John Gustafson celebrated his 94th birthday at the Spring Festival Sectional in Urbandale, Iowa by winning 3 events and being 3 OA and 5th OA in the remaining two of the 5 events in which he participated. His partners were Richard Freedman, Doug Stark, Gregg Walsh and a nameless player best know for terrorizing hapless motorists on the streets and highways of central Iowa and such tourist destinations as Coralville, Council Bluffs, Fargo, Kansas City and Sioux City. His partners with the exception of Richard Freedman, were his team on Sunday. Two of his pair game wins had scores of 69.40% and 69.17%. In fairness, John did say that he made his worst play in recent memory in one of the pairs events. He called it a true senior moment. From information uncovered by this reporter, it appears to have been the equivalent of getting a two way finesse for a queen wrong after an opponent opened an out of range 1N.
Lest this performance be considered a fluke, in the two months before the sectional John has had 5 games at or above 67%. Of course, to put it in perspective, that is out of 25 games that he played in that period. Would that we could all play so well at age 94!
Here is a picture of John playing with the nameless player in a regional some years ago:
PUZZLEMENT by Pete Wityk
I am playing in a match pointed pairs club game with a regular partner against a competent but not exceptionally strong pair. As second chair with all vulnerable, I, for a change, am dealt more than my share of cards with:
♠ KQ8 ♥ AKQJ63 ♦ K10 ♣ J2
Dealer opens 1♦. I am certainly strong enough to double and bid my own suit. So, I *. The next chair bids 2♦. Partner emerges after a little thought with *, which is responsive showing values without wanting to bid a 4 card major ( presumably 4-3 or 4-4 ) or bid clubs at the 3 level. Opener passes and I bid where I want to play, 4♥. Three Passes conclude the auction, which has been:
N E S W
* 2♦ * P
4♥ P P P
The 4♦ is led and this is the dummy that appears:
This looks to be a common contract and I expect to take 11 tricks and so should most of the field. I call for the 5, West plays the A and I play the 10. The 2♥ appears on the table. I win the A with E following. I lead the J♣ to tempt an ill-considered cover. It doesn’t happen and the A wins. I lead the 2♠ to my K which wins the trick. Then the K♥ draws the remaining trump. Now, the 2♣ is played to the K and I trump the 5♣. When both follow to the ♣, I claim since I can get to dummy to discard the two remaining ♠ in my hand on the 2 good ♣ in dummy and then have all winners in my hand. The full hand was:
♠ J74 ♠ A63
♥ 95 ♥ 82
♦ 98743 ♦ AQJ62
♣ 854 ♣ Q73
Taking 12 tricks for +680 was a tie for top. In my working life, I worked with a number of consultants from India. One of their favorite statements at any unusual occurrence seemed to be, “It is a great puzzlement to me how this happened.” And, it is a great puzzlement to me how this happened. There were 7 +650, 2 +620, 1 +200 and one +140 besides the 2 of +680. I can believe that a cow flew by at the two tables not in game. But, taking 10 or 11 tricks means that the N player didn’t consider this line ( i.e. take the ♣ finesse for 10 tricks, establish two ♣ winners with 3 losers to discard, or that W players, except for two, when faced with this problem all jumped up with the A♠ at their first opportunity ).
So, it is still a great puzzlement to me how this happened.
Submitted November 19, 2017