by Jay Korobow
Although partner passed in first seat, my hand of "♠Txxxxx ♥AKQ ♦AKx ♣x" looked promising until right-hand opponent opened 1♠, vulnerable versus not vulnerable. My thoughts shifted to Christmas as I passed and savored the pos- sibility of a reopening double by partner, which I would be reasonably happy to pass and defend. Even if the opponents somehow then scampered to clubs, my quick tricks in the red suits would allow me to pass a penalty double of 2♣ by part- ner without much anxiety.
Alas, partner balanced with 2♦, and since this was an imp match, should value near an opening bid. Obviously, partner lacked a lot of high cards in his longest suit… maybe he had club or spade values instead? I chose a cuebid of 2♠ both to suggest game and imply a fit, and to see what else partner might be able to describe regarding his shape and values.
Not surprisingly, partner rebid 3♣. This should show values in clubs, perhaps the Ace, but there are no guarantees. As a bad minimum would likely just rebid diamonds, it seemed we belonged in game.
3NT and 5♦ were of course the choices, with 3NT surely Bob Hamman's choice although 5♦ at imps couldn't be unreasonable. I did have a sure spade stopper (well, after they take ♠AKQJ) so I chose 3NT while envisioning helpful holdings from partner, such as singleton jack or queen in that suit.
The good news was that the opening lead (J♣) was not a spade! The bad news was that pard's diamonds were worse than I imagined. The dummy that appeared
in 3NT was:
3NT: Opening lead Jack of clubs
There were eight top tricks but chances for more; however, the limited communi- cation was a problem unless the diamonds behaved. In fact - with 6♦, 3♥, and 3♣- there would be 12 tricks (for a great matchpoint top) if diamonds were lying 2- 2. (The remarkable 7♦ would also be "cold from my side" since LHO could not lead spades, and the fourth club can be ruffed in the short hand!)
But this was imps, and the focus was to find and take just 9 winners. It was, how- ever, comforting to note that if diamonds didn't behave well, even 5♦ could be
defeated in the replay (2♠ and 1♦ to lose). The club lead had struck gold, in that dummy was now unreachable if diamonds
broke 3-1 with perhaps ♦QJx with an opponent. There was some hope though if it were LHO, who surely lacked spades to lead for a set. But this hand looked like a storybook deal I had once read: The entry-less dummy (should diamonds not
break) and the ♥AKQ vs. ♥J were the aspects that seemed familiar.
The critical realization is that if diamonds behave, 3♣ + 6♦ equal the magical nine tricks for a make, without needing any heart tricks. One can even discard the AKQ of hearts; actually making the tenth trick with dummy's singleton "high" Jack of hearts!
But throwing my three high hearts is not a lark. It is actually necessary for a make in case LHO has three diamonds, holding something like ♠Void ♥9xxx ♦Jxx ♣JT9xxx while RHO holds ♠AKQJx ♥Txxxx ♦Q ♣xx. The tact is to test dia- monds, and if they do not break 2-2, throw the high hearts on dummy's clubs, the last one on the 2♣. This, of course, gives LHO the lead to cash his remaining high clubs. But even with the diamond winner, it will be no more than four tricks, assum- ing we watch how many clubs RHO follows to and then count to 13. Then LHO has to play a heart to dummy's "high" Jack, and the game makes.
But, if we win the first club and then play diamonds, we cannot get back to dummy to do this. Nor will any other order of play achieve the desired result. So, I ducked the J♣, playing the 2♣ and letting LHO win the trick like I had lost my mind or called a wrong card!
LHO pondered a long time when the trick ended and he saw that it was won by his "high" Jack. He could, of course, switch to a heart, the only choice that actually avoids the throwaway gambit. But, finally eyeing dummy's ♣AKQ suspiciously, he continued with another club.
I merrily took dummy's three high clubs now, and pitched away my AKQ of hearts as RHO showed out, ensuring the plan would work. Next came ♦AK, to be fol- lowed by the throw-in of a third diamond to LHO along with a triumphant claim (after his long clubs were cashed.)
But alas, RHO followed to the second diamond, as did LHO. RHO had ♦Qx, and they were 2-2 all along! All I had done was change 12 tricks into 10, and left hoping the lost overtricks from throwing those high hearts wouldn't result in a cou- ple of lost imps being critical to the match.
Justice, however, prevailed somewhat in the comparison. The opponents had reached a reasonable 5♦ contract in the replay, and sure enough, AK♠ were led to tricks one and two. Now a third spade was played, and LHO's "high" J♦ of dia- monds was promoted to the setting trick. There was a net gain of 10 imps on the result; it would have been a mere11 if I had taken all 12 tricks that were available.
So maybe crime does not pay, but sometimes "high-jacking" does!
2010 Unit 140 Double Knock-Outs
Welcome the New Year by joining the NJBL's premiere events, The 2010 NJBL Double KO's - Open and Bracketed.* You may field a team in either or both events. It's called a "double KO" in that you must lose TWICE before you are eliminated. Matches are scheduled once every 3-4 weeks by the team captains at a site and time convenient to both teams. You may play at a local club, or at someone's home.
This is an opportunity to play IMPS in a more casual and relaxed atmosphere than at a tournament. Remember, master points earned in the events count toward the POTY (player of the year) standings. Teams are limited to 4-6 players, and players from units other than Unit 140 may participate. Conditions of contest are available upon request.
Please call or e-mail Brett Kunin (973-243-2366), email@example.com, for further information, or simply fill in the attached entry form below and mail it with the nominal $15.00/team entry fee to Brett Kunin, 8 Hickory Rd., West Orange, NJ 07052 (checks should be payable to "NJBL-Unit 140"); DEADLINE is MARCH 1, 2010.
No team will be permitted to participate until the entry fee is paid.
Open Double Knock Out
Total Team MPs
Bracketed Double Knock Out
Total Team MPs
Captain Address Phone (
Player #2 Player #3 Player #4 Player #5 Player #6
*Bracketed KO will be held only if there is sufficient participation.
ACBL No. ACBL No. ACBL No. ACBL No. ACBL No.