I was playing a friendly table with a pickup partner against two experts. Because the experts some times play in the Jimmy Cayne matches, they are well-known in BBOland. Therefore, our table had something like 50 kibitzers and I had to hope the kibs were not being too harsh on pickup-pard and me.
After three passes, North-South vul, it comes around to me and I hold:
I have 15 high-card points and a semi-balanced hand. But I do have spades and an easy club rebid, so I have an easy 1S bid. Partner now raises to 2S. What do you do?
My KQ tight and J-doubleton are poor values, but I let my good club and spade spots convince me to make a 3C game try. Partner accepts and we are in 4S. I get the lead of a low spade and this is the dummy:
Well, there is no need to put off pulling trumps, so I pulled trumps. What's the right way to play clubs for only one loser?
First of all, there is no harm in seeing who has the Ace of hearts. I therefore led a low heart to my King. North won the trick and returned a heart. Now, clubs. How do you play it?
Taking the suit by itself, the best way is a low club to the Ace (to capture any singleton honor) and then a low club to the 10, finessing the Jack with south. But table feel told me that the expert sitting north had chosen a passive spade lead because he expected club tricks to be coming his way. Ergo, he rated to have KJx of clubs. I therefore led a low club to the 9, was gratified to see it hold the trick. I then played the Ace of clubs and another club. North took this trick and returned a heart for me to ruff. He was not breaking diamonds.
So, now you have to play diamonds for one loser. You lead a low diamond towards dummy and north plays low. Your call. Make the right decision and you get a few imps for pulling off this thin game. Maybe the kibs stop chortling.
I made the wrong decision at the table because I thought that North's passive defense must have been predicated on holding three suits he could not lead away from. So, I put up the king. Better than vague psycho-babble would have to count the points that North had already shown up with: KJ of clubs and A of hearts. With the Ace of diamonds, that would be 12 points and he would have opened. Ergo, south had the Ace of diamonds. Putting up the King has no chance. I should put in the 9 of diamonds and take my only chance.
The whole hand was: (click Next to see the play)
p.s. After I wrote the blog, I noticed that North had not played a low diamond, but had put in the 10 of diamonds. I had no chance on this deal. There's a reason he's an expert and I am not. But if he had played low, I should have put in the 9.