I had the pleasure of playing with Jean Davis in the under-10,000 mixed Swiss team event in this year’s Summer nationals in Atlanta. I was delighted when she accepted my offer to play in the event, and flattered when she agreed to try upside-down count/attitude signaling, my preferred defensive carding method. (More on this in a future column).
It was the very last hand of the last round in the evening session. I, South, was dealt the following so-so collection of cards:
The dealer, East on my left, passed; playing 2/1, Jean opened a club; my RHO (West) made a weak jump overcall of 2♦. We eventually ended up in the ambitious contract of 4♥ as per the bidding shown with the dummy below.
A note on the bidding: Even playing 2/1, a 2 over 1 bid necessitated by East’s interfering 2♦ IS NOT game forcing. It should, however, still show a decent 10-count, as it forces partner to bid for at least 1 more round. Swayed by the favorable placement of the ♦K behind the presumed ♦A, I decided to count my hand as a decent 10-pointer. Similarly, since my 2♥ bid was not game forcing due to the overcall, Jean’s 3♥ was NOT forcing, or even very encouraging. With heart support and a 14-count or a good 13-count, Jean would have bid 4♥ (since I would pass 3♥ with a minimum 2♥ bid) but with any lesser hand she would have made the minimum 3♥ bid. My 4♥ bid was an overbid premised on the belief that partner’s spade honor(s) would be favorably placed behind West’s spade honors revealed by West’s 2♠ bid.
The dummy was about what I expected. The ♦Q was a big disappointment, however. Had this been the ♣Q, my chances would be much better.
On the first trick, I played low from the dummy and then unblocked my ♦K under RHO’s ♦A to create an entry to the dummy. East returned a diamond; I took the ♦Q in dummy and led a heart. Low from East, ♥K from me and ♥A from West. Back came a trump with the ♥J falling from East. Good: a 2-2 heart break. In my hand, I decided to lead towards the ♠K, trusting the ♠A to be on my left due to the 2♠ bid. As predicted, West rose with the ♠A. Then then made the curious lead of the ♣9.
This looked foreboding as it appeared to be top of a doubleton, which means the protected ♣Q is on my right. Down 1. With nothing better to do, I delayed matters by winning with the ♣A, cashing my ♠K and then leading a spade for a ruff back to my hand, my right hand opponent following to both spades.
Decision time in the club suit. I play my ♣J. West plays the ♣2. I have lost 3 tricks already and can’t lose a 4th. Do I play West for 3 clubs to the ♣Q92 and assume West led the ♣9 trying to talk me out of the finesse? Or do I rise with the ♣K, playing my RHO for a ♣Q doubleton? What would you do if you were me? Click on the link below to see the answer.