Problem no. 6, 2001


Line



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):

S 5
H 6 4
D K 8 5
C K Q 9 7 5 4 3
S J 4 3 Table S K Q 9
H Q 10 7 5 2 H K J 9 3
D Q 6 D A 10 9 2
C J 8 2 C A 10
S A 10 8 7 6 2
H A 8
D J 7 4 3
C 6

South West North East
1 NT
2 S 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:

S
H
D K 5
C Q 9
S Table S
H Q 10 H J
D Q D A 10 2
C J C
S 8
H
D J 7 4
C

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:

S
H
D K 8 5
C Q 9
S Table S
H Q 10 H J
D Q 6 D A 10 9 2
C J C
S 8
j
D J 7 4 3
C

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!


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