I always warn my daughters that, when skiing, to be particularly careful the last run of the day, as that is when they are the most tired and most likely to not pay attention, fall, and injure themselves. The same advice could be given at the bridge table in reference to the last board of a long round.
Playing with Julie Arbit, Zach Brescoll and my daughter Allison at the Orlando regional in a Bracket 1 Knockout, I was dealt this pretty hand for the last hand of the 1st session.
We are down 22 imps at the half, perhaps in part due to my lack of sleep the night before, but had done well so far in the 2nd half. If we did well in this last board, I felt we had a chance to save the match.
Julie, to my delight, opened 1♣, my right hand opponent (RHO) made a weak jump bid of 2♦; I made a negative double, my left hand opponent (LHO) jump to 5♦ and Julie doubled.
Being sleep-deprived, I did not see Julie’s double card. When the bidding came back around to me, I bid 5NT (demanding that my partner pick a slam). Julie bid 6♥ and I corrected to 6NT, ending the auction.
My LHO led the ♥9 and this is what I saw:
I perked up. Not bad! If I can make this hand, we might win the match. Time to plan. Let’s see, we have only 9 tricks of the top (3 spades, 2 hearts, 2 diamonds, and 2 clubs), assuming that the marked diamond finesse is right. I’ll have to bring the entire club suit home and either 3 hearts or 4 spades to make 12 tricks. So the 1st order of business is to find the club Queen.
I covered the ♥9 with the ♥10, East covering with the ♥J and I took the Ace.
I asked East what West leads from an empty tripleton and he said top of nothing. So I counted West for no more than 3 hearts, which means that East has at least 3 hearts also. East, having at least 9 cards in the red suits (6 diamonds for the 2♦ preempt) and only 4 in the blacks, is heavy favorite NOT to hold the ♣Q. So I led the ♣J. West thought quite a while and covered with the ♣Q, covered with the ♣A, East discarding a small club.
Next, I took the marked diamond finesse which won. Now, how to play the clubs? I had two options — play for the 3-3 split, or finesse the ♣8, hoping West had the ♣9. I decided the 2nd was best given West’s long hesitation and East’s known length in diamonds. And so I finessed the ♣8, East showing out. Phew!
From here I played too fast, and ended up down 1. Can you do better? Here is the play so far:
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