My preparation for the Swiss teams last Sunday in Santa Clara consisted of hitting the freshly powdered & sunny slopes in Sugar Bowl on Saturday. Sanne and I took an obscenely early ski-bus to Tahoe and spent a wonderful day racing down amazing slopes (Trailblazer!). Of course I got wiped out in some unprepared pillow of fluff, where I had to clean the snow from the inside of my glasses. (Un)fortunately there are no pictures of that event…
Michael Bodell and I teamed up with Eugene (Bridge Winners) and Helen. The slow start was largely due to opponents stumbling into a vulnerable 3NT with a 6-4 fit. There were no ten tricks in a contract and the King sitting stiff was required for there was no entry to take a finesse. Argh! We picked up some steam to end with 81 VP out of 7 matches (20 VP scale).
In round 5 after 6 boards I see only scores in the opponent’s column. We didn’t make a single contract and all theirs got home. Last board, we need a pickup. The opponents have an easy auction.
Michael leads the Ten. This is what I see:
Hmmm, hiding that poor 5 card suit, eh? I don’t know whether I would have done that myself.
Declarer takes his time and plays low in dummy to his Ace. It looks like Michael has led the highest one from an internal sequence. Do we have enough time to unblock our position? My holding suggests declarer will have 5 tricks there, so if South has the King 9 tricks are unavoidable. So I’ll assume Michael is holding that one. That means declarer has the Ace to get to opening values, and is either 5-2-3-3, 5-3-2-3 or 5-3-3-2.
Declarer crosses to the Ace and requests a low from dummy. The neurons in my brain are firing rapidly, new pathways emerge, logic clicks. If I play low declarer will for sure take some (double) finesse. Maybe Michael will win it but the position remains unresolved.
So I sacrifice my King by playing second hand high. This has unexpected results. Declarer wins his Ace but looks a little befuddled. With his entry removed prematurely he has to choose between setting up the in dummy and abandoning his , or give up the suit altogether. Or so I imagine his train of thought… His Jack wins the trick too, but Michael wins the third with his Queen.
Michael has a full grasp of the situation too, and plays a for my Queen. I get to nail the coffin closed by fixing declarer in dummy with a . Declarer loses track completely and ends up down 2.
Our team mates brought home 4 with an overtrick, so we score up 13 IMP.
There were several routes available that would have led to success. E.g. declarer could have cashed both when fixed in dummy with the King, effectively strip squeezing and then end playing Michael in to lead away from the King. Or declarer, after winning the Ace, could have unblocked the other in dummy before playing again.
Recognizing that not inserting my King was not going to win either left or right, was my learning moment of the day.