The prize money was good, the competition fabulous – so why did I make only 12 tricks?
Suppose you need four tricks from this suit –
and that you lead a low card from dummy to the jack in your hand, which wins the trick. You cash the king and East plays the queen under it. Should you finesse the nine next, or play low to the ace? This is an old favourite in the textbooks. The idea is that if East began with Q10x, he must play the queen on the second round because when your jack won the first round, you knew he had the queen. So, if he plays the 10 on the second round you can’t go wrong on the third, whereas if he plays the queen, you might.
A priori, East is more likely to have been dealt Q10x than Qx. So I should have collected the four tricks that were my due when the position arose in the second Auction Pairs at TGRs last weekend. This fabulous tournament had it all – excellent playing conditions, 15 players with «World Champion» on their CVs, top-notch organisation and hospitality second to none. As if that were not incentive enough, the top prize in the auction was almost £19,000, Why, then, did I make only 12 tricks when these were the cards? North-South vulnerable, dealer South:
I opened 2NT with the West cards and my partner gave me 6NT. This might seem uppish, but I was supposed to have at least 22 points for my bid – the five-card suit led me to believe that I had what I was promising. If North had led a safe or a mildly aggressive club, I’d have played the suit as I’ve described – South would know to drop the queen on the second round, but I would know to drop his 10 on the third. But North crossed me up completely by leading a . Now, nothing could be read into South’s plays; his queen lost to the king and he followed low to the jack after I had picked up the suit for five winners. Since South had long spades, maybe he had short hearts, so I finessed dummy’s nine on the third round and blew a trick in the process.