Played this hand in the last match of the first qualifying day for the North American Swiss in Orlando last week. It was one of the most annoying bridge hands I have had for a while, mainly because I had worked out virtually all of the hand, then wound up completely falling asleep at the end and destroying everything I had done up to that point.
With everyone Vul, I picked up the following hand, 4 KQG843 KJ3 KJ5 and heard the auction go 1C on my left, 1S by pard, P on my right. We play transfers to overcalls at the 2 level, so I bid 2D as a transfer to Hearts, showing 5+ Hearts and 8+ HCP’s. Partner refused the transfer and bid 2S. This tends to show 6+ Spades and usually less than 2 Hearts, and does not promise extra values. I decided that at IMPS I wanted to play this hand in game, and wanted to protect my Diamond and Club values, so jumped to 3N on the hand, ending the auction.
The opening lead was the 3 of Clubs, and dummy tracked with AKJT95 6 A964 93, not a bad buy here, I put up the 9 of Clubs, and RHO made (what I thought anyways) was an error by covering with the Q, since that left very little available to be in his hand. I could now play his partner for virtually every card left, allowing me to keep the positional second Club stopper alive. I did not want to commit to the Spades yet, I was worried that RHO might have the J of Spades, so decided to start on the Hearts first. If they are 33, I have no worries on the hand. So I led the K of Hearts, which held the trick, and then the J of Hearts, also holding the trick as RHO shed the 10 of Hearts. I kept on with the Q of Hearts, won by LHO with the A as RHO pitched the 2 of Spades, a very strange card. I had pitched 2 small Spades on the 2 Hearts. LHO still retained the 9 of Hearts, so it looked like he was something like 2425, 3424, or possibly 2434.
LHO now returned the 3 of Spades, and I won the A while RHO followed small. This is where I started to lose the hand, LHO must have the Q of Spades on the hand, both for a real opener and because I need him to stay on lead to protect Clubs. So the easy play here is a small spade off board. This works anytime LHO started with Qx or QJx of Spades, the only holding it fails to is Qxx and that meant that RHO had pitched a Spades from Jxx looking at that dummy, something I considered highly unlikely. Instead, I cashed the K of Spades off dummy, pitching a low Heart, while LHO followed with the Q. And now I started to give myself doubts, did RHO pitch a Spade from Jxxx and now had the J. So I came off board with a Diamond to the K and played the 8 of Hearts to LHO’s 9. And at that point, I did something really stupid, I kept the Club on board and called for another Spade pitch.
LHO had now worked out all he needed, and cashed the Spade J, squeezing me in the red suits, before exiting with the Q of Diamonds, forcing me to lead away from my Jx of Clubs, since I had pitched trick 9 with that last Spade pitch from dummy.
Needless to say, partner was not very pleased with this, and with good reason. Pitching a Club and Diamond off board at any time and keeping as many Spades as possible means I can almost never go down on the hand. The only thing I could think of later was that when RHO played the Q of Clubs, then pitched a Spade, I relaxed on the hand since I did not think I could go down anymore, and stopped counting on the hand. I had worked out basically exactly what they both had, within 1 optional card, and thought everything was rosy. Goes to show, can never lose concentration on a hand, especially if it appears to be going well.
The 1 good point about it was that the 3N did not cost us too greatly, we wound up in a dead tie, which meant both teams easily qualified for day 2. If I had made it, the Australian team we were playing would have had a good chance of being eliminated from day 2. So they were very appreciative, it was just my team mates that were not as happy for some reason.