Problem no. 6, 2001

The problem

Our new problem is fifteen years old. At that time, I lived in the city of Lund, and my car had just broken down. So I had to take the bus to Malmö for the evening's match in the local league. I partnered Mats Nilsland, and in the first half our opponents were Alvar Stenberg and Hans-Olof Hallén. One of the deals looked like this (East dealer, both sides vulnerable):

 5 6 4 K 8 5 K Q 9 7 5 4 3 J 4 3 K Q 9 Q 10 7 5 2 K J 9 3 Q 6 A 10 9 2 J 8 2 A 10 A 10 8 7 6 2 A 8 J 7 4 3 6

 South West North East 1 NT 2 pass pass pass

Stenberg led the heart deuce (third or fifth best) to Hallén's king, which I ducked. I won the spade king return with the ace and led the spade ten (in case the nine was singleton) to the queen and won the heart three with my ace.
A spade to the jack, a heart back ruffed and the club six. When Stenberg carelessly followed with the eight, playing upside-down signals (but the jack just feels wrong, too), Hallén thought I had two clubs, so he ducked the king. Now I had a chance.
A club ruffed, and the diamond three to the five, eight and nine, produced this ending:

 – – K 5 Q 9 – – Q 10 J Q A 10 2 J – 8 – J 7 4 –

I ruffed the heart jack and led the diamond four: queen, king and ace – after which I had the pleasure of winning the two last tricks with J-7 behind Hallén's 10-2. So the contract was just made, for +110.
On the bus ride home, I got to think about this deal, when I suddenly realized what a fool I had been. Not that I could have taken more tricks (I did get one more than I was entitled to, after all), but I knew I had just missed a chance of a lifetime...
Why was I so angry with myself?

Solution

It was a nice ending, but it could have been even nicer had I been a little more careful with my spot cards in diamonds...
If we go back to the situation before the first diamond was played, it looked like this:

 – – K 8 5 Q 9 – – Q 10 J Q 6 A 10 9 2 J – 8 – J 7 4 3 –

Here I led the diamond three: six, eight, nine – and took my eight tricks. But suppose I instead had played the diamond four. Once more Hallén wins the trick cheaply and plays a heart for me to ruff. Then I discard the diamond five from dummy (safe, since unless Stenberg has the queen singleton left, I have no chance) and play the diamond seven. When Hallén wins the trick, he's left with 10-2 while I have J-3. And no matter what he does, I'll have the pleasure of winning a trick with a three against a two...
A missed opportunity, no doubt!

[ The competition | Back ]