A painful experience By Barry Rigal

 

Failing to qualify in the GNT can be a painful experience, one that you would wish to put out of your mind as quickly as possible --- particularly when you miss out by 2VPs on the final board.

 

However, as it happened, my New York teammates produced a couple of nice plays to keep us in contention, and I missed my chance for a big pickup that would have made our life easy. So in the spirit of contrition, and as a partial apology, here are three relevant deals:

 

Dlr: South S K 8 4

Vul: Both H A Q 10 9 6 5

D K 4 3

C Q

S J 9 S Q 6 5 2

H 3 2 H K J 8 7

D A Q J 10 7 D 2

C 9 5 4 2 C 10 8 6 3

S A 10 7 3

H 4

D 9 8 6 5

C A K J 7

 

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH

- Rigal - Solodar

- - - 1C

1D 1H Pass 1S

Pass 2D Pass 2NT

Pass 3NT All Pass

 

My partner, John Solodar, won the opening lead of the DQ with the king, played the CQ, crossed to the SA and cashed the clubs, hoping that the heart finesse would give him nine tricks. When the finesse failed and a spade came back, John carefully unblocked the S7 and won dummy's SK. Now he led a third spade from dummy and when East produced the queen, John unblocked the S10, letting East cash the S6. Then, however, East had to lead a heart and concede two tricks to dummy.

Of course, John could have cashed the HA (instead of taking the finesse at trick seven) and then played a spade to set up his ninth trick that way, but this was far more elegant.

In the other room, my teammates did not bid with the East-West cards, and also led the DQ against 3NT. Declarer ducked, and Brady Richter continued in tempo with the DJ. Declarer thought he might need to duck this trick, but was swiftly disabused of the soundness of this idea. 12 IMPs to the good guys.

 

 

Dlr: North S Q J 10 4

Vul: N--S H J 10 6 4

D K 8 3

C A 5

S K 7 6 5 2 S 9

H Q H K 9 7 5 2

D 9 5 D A Q 7 4 2

C Q J 6 4 2 C 9 7

S A 8 3

H A 8 3

D J 10 6

C K 10 8 3

 

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH

- Ornstein - Picus

- Pass Pass 1C

1S Dbl Pass 1NT

Pass 3NT All Pass

 

In our room, we defeated 2NT by North on a heart lead, which went one down after less-than-stellar defense.

Sue Picus was faced with a slightly more challenging task when partner Alex Ornstein found an ebullient approach to the North cards.

The defense found a friendly low club lead to Sue's C10. A low spade from hand saw West take the SK and shift to the D9. Imagine East's dilemma. He chose to duck and now Sue won in hand and cashed all the black-suit winners to reduce to this ending:

 

S ---

H J 10 6

D K 8

C ---

S 7 S ---

H Q H K 9

D --- D A Q 7

C Q J 6 C ---

S ---

H A 8

D J 6

C 8

 

Sue cashed the HA and exited with a heart to collect plus 630. Had East won the DQ (when West switched to the 9), cashed the DA and cleared the suit, Sue would have been forced to play West for a singleton heart honor by ducking a heart to the HQ. Now, after getting a count on the hand by cashing the black-suit winners, Sue would have a subsequent heart finesse to provide the ninth trick.

 

 

Dlr: South S A K Q 9 6

Vul: Both H 6

D A Q 9 6 2

C 10 4

S J 10 7 2 S 8 3

H J 8 7 3 2 H A 5 4

D K 8 D J 5 4

C 8 6 C A K J 7 5

S 5 4

H K Q 10 9

D 10 7 3

C Q 9 3 2

 

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH

- Solodar - Rigal

- - - Pass

Pass 1S 2C Pass

Pass 2D Pass 2S

Pass 3D Pass 3H

Pass 3S Pass 3NT

All Pass

 

After a slightly pushy auction, we reached an excellent 3NT thanks to those convenient club spots.

After a club to the CK and a low heart shift to the HK (West playing an encouraging 8), I decided to run the D10 --- maybe not best, but not absurd either. Randy Joyce (West) put up the DK. I won in dummy, and cashed the SA K to remove some inconvenient exit cards from the defender's hands. Now I played the C10 which the defense had to win or else I would have nine easy tricks by clearing the diamond suit. Kay Joyce (East) cashed the HA and played another heart to set up the suit. I pitched a spade and a diamond from dummy. This was the ending:

 

S Q 9

H ---

D Q 9 6

C ---

S J 10 S ---

H J 7 H ---

D 8 D J 5

C --- C J 7 5

S ---

H 10

D 7 3

C Q 9

 

I needed to work out what was going on, so I elected to cash the CQ and take the diamond finesse, playing West for an original 4--4--32 shape. But in retrospect, East's decision to play the HA and another heart should have tipped me off to my opponents' patterns.

The winning line is to cash the DQ and the SQ and then exit with a diamond to endplay East in clubs.

And note that East could have found the devious shot of underleading her HA rather than cashing it! Now I might well have been forgiven for playing East for the 2--4--2--5 shape I actually did anyway!