Sunday a week ago I played the “chilly winter bar drive” in Leiden. I wasn’t in great shape, but I did prepare well: a motherload of paper hankies and throat relief tablets in every single pocket on me. I was croaking about an octave lower than usual. The one thing I forgot (of course!) were my sunglasses, it was unexpectedly perfectly sunny. Our opposition was less than stellar during the day and Marianne and I were quite in sync. No deep psychological mind games or feeding partner riddles (such masochism!), just straightforward bridge.
I ask whether the 1NT call promises a !S stopper and I’m informed it just shows 6-9 hcp. West leads the 9 of !H with a strong thumb on it. Even the players at the table next to us know it’s a singleton.
That’s a fine call by Marianne, no beating around the bush. So how do I prevent that pending !H ruff? Assessment mode: I’m fairly sure these little old ladies are superbly familiar with common bridge commandments. More than is actually good for them. Let’s see if she knows her “Thou shan’t play thy face cards prematurely”. Radiating charming innocence left and right I cross to the !C Ace (RHO drops the Jack) and ask for a low trump. Lady East plays low without a care in the world and my Queen wins the trick.
*Ba dum tss*
Another round of trumps loses to the Ace and when East continues the !H attack West shrugs apologetically and discards. I’m a big game hunter now. I try the !D hook and when it wins I visualize a double squeeze with !D as pivot suit. I cash !C King (East discarding) and now the train of trumps first squeezes West out of !D and then East. This is the thumb screw position:
Here’s the full deal:
Of course my swindle could have backfired epically. Suppose East had risen with trump Ace, gave West a !H ruff, then received a !C ruff herself to cash the setting trick with a high !H. Man! I would have been disgusted. I score my two overtricks with a smile, I graciously accept Marianne’s compliments for declarer play and we continue our solid game.
Now if only I hadn’t balanced on some crappy hand (down three not vul) this story would have had a perfect finish. I am so sorry Marianne. Second place out of 300+ pairs just doesn’t cut it glamour wise. We shared stories and beer with the good folks of Bridge Big, they do play analog tournaments, too. Good times.