The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Tuesday, January 14, 2003


A week ago Saturday Sherry and I played at the club (the Palo Alto club, the only club I play at anymore) and won by 0.14 matchpoints. Today I played with my friend Eric and won by 0.4 matchpoints. So we're pulling away from the field. Or something.

We had a huge start, but then had zeros in each of our last three rounds. Here is a hand from when things were going well:

Board 28, favorable, I held as dealer:

SKxx HQ9xx DQxxx CQx

I passed and LHO opened a 12-14 1N. Eric bid 2C, showing the majors. RHO then jumped to 5C!

I passed, and Eric bid 5D. I wasn't sure if this was a slam try or a diamond fragment, but I had an easy 5H call. (I considered slam, but Eric was under pressure and I had too much minor suit junk to believe that we were taking 12 tricks.)

LHO led the CK (K from AK) and here was the dummy:

SQJ9xxx HAKTxx DAx C-

(Eric later said he meant 5D as showing better spades than hearts.)

I ruffed in dummy and led the HA. RHO followed with the jack. I led a heart to the queen as RHO pitched a club. Now what?

I can make an overtrick by running spades and pitching three diamonds from my hand. But what if spades are 4-0? If I pull the last trump, LHO can take the spade king with his ace. Then I cannot get to hand for a spade hook, unless I use the fourth trump which is needed to ruff dummy's diamond.

So I abandoned trumps -- which can hardly be dangerous given the auction -- and played on spades. My caution was rewarded when RHO showed out on the first round! I was able to claim when LHO won my king with his ace -- win the return, cross to hand with a trump, spade to the nine, run spades and crossruff.

*******************************************

Unfortunately board 2 did not go so well. Third chair, favorable, I held

SJx HKQT9x DAJx CJTx

Eric passed and RHO opened 1S. I doubled, LHO passed, and Eric bid 3H -- showing values, not preemptive. RHO and I passed and now LHO bid 3S!

This is passed to you. Do you pass, double, or bid 4H? If you pass or double, what do you lead?

I doubled and led the SJ. I figured that LHO had heart shortness, some spades, and a poor hand. This lead turned +200 into -930 when dummy tracked with SQxx Hxx Dxxxx CAxxx. Declarer sucked up the spade suit -- poor Eric had Kx -- and ran four clubs, pitching one of her two small hearts.

(-170 was the same zero as -930, the error is in the lead, not the double.)

Update: I did not give the full scope of our late collapse. Our scores on the last three rounds were 1.1, 0, 1.7, 3.8, 12, and 1.1 on a 12 top.


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