The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Sunday, January 26, 2003


Tomorrow I am going to my first Southern California regional. Tomorrow morning I will drive down with Hamish Bennett to the San Bernardino regional. Hamish has over 10,000 masterpoints and has won a national championship. He was born in Scotland (only a trace of an accent remains), worked for Pac Bell, is now retired. Hamish is a pleasant partner and I am eager to play well in the regional.

We played yesterday as a tune-up. The Saturday club game in Palo Alto was not a normal shuffle-deal-play game but an International Fund Game with clubs across the country playing pre-generated boards. Here are two cards involving the "beer card" -- the seven of diamonds:

As dealer, both vulnerable, I held

SQ765 HAT76 DKQ7 C84

I passed and so did LHO and partner. RHO opened 1C, so I made a takeout double. LHO bid 1D over this, and Hamish bid 1S. RHO rebid 2C, which LHO raised to 3C. Everyone passed.

I led a spade and dummy appeared with

SA84 H8 DAJ832 CJT52

Declarer won the spade and led a heart down -- H8, H3, HJ. I won the ace and played another spade. Hamish won the SK as declarer played the SJ.

Hamish led a third spade. Declarer pitched D4 on this and I won with the queen as I considered my next move. At first I thought declarer had six clubs. But she had two spades, clearly a doubleton diamond, and if she has six clubs, only three hearts. This would give Hamish five hearts and four spades and he wouldn't bid spades. So declarer was 2425.

If declarer had the king of hearts, the hand was over. So if Hamish had that king to go with his spade king, declarer had HQJxx and probably the top clubs for her opening bid. Leading a club seemed pointless.

For declarer to crossruff she would need to ruff diamonds back to hand -- she needs three ruffs so only one trump entry can be used. Maybe I could scare her into ruffing high. I led back the diamond seven. She flew ace, led a club to the ace, and ruffed a heart. She ruffed a diamond and I played the king. Now a second heart ruff and a diamond ...

Afraid that I started with Kx of diamonds -- I would never make a takeout double with that holding, though you never know what some club players would do -- declarer made sure of her contract by ruffing with the CK. Another heart ruff in dummy left her with DJ8 in dummy facing CQ7 in hand. She led a diamond and Hamish ruffed with his stiff C9; I scored C8 on the last trick to hold declarer to nine tricks for 9.5 out of 12 matchpoints. (If declarer makes an overtrick we get an average.)

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The field was not strong. Here is a hand on which I got a top for the simplest of squeezes:

As dealer, favorable, I held

SQT6 HAJ3 DKQ87 CKQ7

I opened a 15-17 notrump and Hamish bid 2C, Stayman. I bid 2D. Hamish rebid 3S which we play as "Smolen" -- four spades, five or more hearts. (This allows the notrump bidder to declare the 5-3 fit.) I bid 4H and now Hamish jumped to 6H.

LHO led DT. Here was my dummy:

SA953 HK8764 DA4 CA2

I won the ace and played the D8, keeping the seven. Now HK, heart, and lucky day -- RHO had HQx. I pulled the last trump, played three clubs pitching a spade from dummy, and crossed to the ace of spades. I ran trumps. The king of spades did not appear so I played diamonds and they ran; RHO had started with SK72 and DJ9632 and was squeezed on the last trump.

So with 17 opposite 15, an eight-card fit, and all the aces, we got to the second-best slam -- 6 notrump plays the same as 6H, and scores better. I made an overtrick on a baby squeeze, and was rewarded with all 12 matchpoints.


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