Stratosphere

Hi all

Here’s a deal from the San Francisco Sectional. Geoff and I reach heights where the air gets very, very thin. I pick up a decent hand, but the auction that follows doesn’t give me warm feelings.

South
JT84
KQJT4
AKT8
West
North
East
South
 
11
pass
2
pass
22
dbl
2
pass
3
pass
3NT
pass
…5
a.p.
 
  1. 8-17 hcp systematically
  2. Any minimum

Perhaps I should have smelled a rat and pass out 3 but I still visualized game to be reasonable. I’m surprised by the jump to 5, curious I wait for dummy.

North
5
KJ864
A986
753
South
JT84
KQJT4
AKT8

Of course West starts with a trump so ruffing all my losers is going to get difficult. I’m in a terrible spot. And I make a mental note to tell Geoff his hand doesn’t qualify for opening in my standards, or our standards for that matter. Add a couple of spots to the suit, then maybe if not vulnerable.

Anyway, I’d better make a plan. My best chance is to find QJ-third onside. Perhaps I can set up a to pitch a from dummy so I can tackle 3-3. Not that it brings my odds for bringing this baby home anywhere close to 50%.

I win in dummy with the Ace and request the 5. East rises with the Ace and returns her trump, fortunately they break 2-2. Now let’s see if I can work something in the suit.

But wait… if I play a top from hand then it doesn’t matter what West does. Covering and forcing me to ruff will leave me an entry short to finesse twice in later (East will split) if my experiment is fruitless. While if West ducks then it doesn’t gain me anything, with the miniscule exception of finding East with exactly AK9 or AQ9.

A cunning plan fosters in my mind… I check whether West is awake. I put down the 8 intending to let it ride, playing West for any Honor-9 combination. Later I can take a ruffing finesse against his honor, and I have one trump left in dummy to establish my (just depending on a 3-3 split).

But no, West covers the 8 with the 9 and I’m forced to ruff. So far my experiment in the suit… The hook against QJ is all I have left.

North Dealer
NS Vul
North
5
KJ864
A986
753
West
Q9732
932
73
962
East
AK6
AQT75
52
QJ4
South
JT84
KQJT4
AKT8

It works… for +600. Not happy with the bidding, but the result is nice to surprise your team mates with.

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