Playing with a pick up partner in an IMPS game on BBO a couple of nights ago, I had a very strong demonstration of the variance in the term ‘Expert’. The person I was playing with counted themselves an expert, and for the most part, did quite well. But unfortunately, we had a hand come up that I would describe as beautiful because of it’s grace and timing, but my partner would describe as horrible as he went down in the game we bid.
All vul, with the opps silent throughout, my partner picked up QJ987 AKJ Q83 A9 and opened 1S in first seat. I raised this to 2S and he blasted to 4S, a bid I like since any random 8 count should give you some play. The opening lead was the 10 of Clubs, and dummy appeared with T64 Q A42 QJ8432.
The Club lead removes the possibility of a Club loser, but sets up the worry about a Club ruff. The Club was covered by the J, and after some thought, RHO played low, allowing the J to hold. For now, the main problem is the possibility of 2 Spade and 2 Diamond losers on the hand. The Hearts give a parking spot for the Diamond losers, but with the Club lead, entries are a bit of an issue. The line I like is cash the A of Diamonds, then overtake the Q of Hearts and pitch both Diamonds on the Hearts. Next, ruff a Diamond with the 10 of Spades, and lead a Club to you’re A. If this holds, ruff the last Diamond with the 6 of Spades and claim 5. (Hide the Spade spots as long as possible) If the Club gets ruffed, and they can and do pull trump, you still have 4 losers, but that is unlucky.
At the table, after the J of Clubs held, partner immediately played a trump, which RHO won with the A to play a Diamond through. He went up with the Q (premature) and this was covered with the K and A. Now he played another trump(?), guaranteeing down 1 when they cashed the K of Spades and 2 Diamonds. Even at this point, playing Hearts would have collected 11 tricks when Clubs were 3-2. But playing the 2nd Spade when the Diamonds were open for 2 losers is just being lazy.
The reason I like the hand is the beauty of the timing, you play every side suit card without touching trumps, then wind up with 5 Spades that always play for only 2 losers, whatever you do. The hand becomes so simple and elegant, that you can claim fairly quickly. Watching it get beaten up with a bludgeon was very painful.