Wasting your own trumps
Baseball fans often hear the announcer saythat in every game played, there is something new. It seems the sameway at bridge. Not only is every deal a new adventure, but I often see new themes, such as on this deal from an Atlanta regional. You hold these South cards:
♠ 9 7 ♥ A Q 4 ♦ 9 7 ♣ A K Q 7 5 2
and open 1♣ with bot hvulnerable. Left-hand opponent bids 2♣ to show the majors. Partner doubles. The typical meaning of a double of a Michaels cuebid is penalty-oriented. Partner is outfor blood. RHO doesn’t choose a major. He bids 2♦. What’s that?
I like to play it as natural – RHO has his own diamond suit and doesn’t wish to choose a major. (Reminder: Discuss with your partner not only what 2♦ means, but what redouble and pass would mean after the double of the Michaels cuebid.) Anyway, you nowhave a problem.
You could pass, which should be forcing. Partner is not allowed to double and then sellout on the two level. You could bid 3♣, but your hand might be too strong-there is noreason for 3♣ to be forcing. You could also bid 2♥ (LHO’s suit) to show something there. In that there arearguments for and against many calls, this could be a good bidding-panel problem. I’ll spare you the agony and tell you that you end up declaring 7♣!
LHO leads the ♥J and you see:
You are in an excellent contract. I would have two initial thoughts. One, I can claim if clubs aren’t 4-0. My diamond loser goeson dummy’s spades. Two, what the heck was West doing making a vulnerable Michaels cuebid, with so few high-card points?
West must have extreme distribution–not your ordinary 5-5 hand. Should you assume he is void in clubs and run the ♣10 on the first round?
No. West could conceivably have a singleton (or doubleton) jack in clubs. There is no reason to risk a first-round club finesse. You can always pick up jack-fourth of clubsonside as long as you are careful. So,how will you be careful?
You win the ♥A in hand and lay down the ♣A. If all follow, you claim. If LHO shows out, as he does in real life, would you have the foresight to unblock dummy’s ♣10 or ♣9 under your own ace? If you played dummy’s ♣4 (seemingly less wasteful) on your ♣A, you are down! Here is the real deal:
West (notice he is 6-6, no surprise) led the ♥J. You won in hand and laid down the ♣A, seeing West show out. Watch what happens if you naively followed with dummy’s ♣4 on your ace. You can still finesse against East’s ♣J, but your entries are bollixed. You cross to the ♠A to lead the ♣10. East covers! Ooops! Big trouble.
You can win and go to the ♣9 in dummy, but East still has a little trump. How will you draw it? You can’t get back to your hand. Try it!
Now, let’s do it the right way. At trick two, play the ♣A, and when West shows out, dump dummy’s ♣10. Cross in spades and play the ♣9. East must cover. Now, go to the ♦A and play dummy’s last club. East remains with ♣8 6. You still have a high club and the ♣7 to take the marked finesse, finish drawing trumps and then go back to dummy to take all your winners.
If you don’t see it, layout the cards. It’s not every day that you see such an unblocking play, squandering your own good trump spots.