All Things Being Equal
The competition was fierce in the Flight-C Swiss Teams at the local Sectional
tournament. In the day's critical match, Bob and Carol, together with best friends
Ted and Alice, would face
arch-rivals Donald and Mickey, who were playing with
their spouses Daisy and Minnie on this occasion.
On Board #4, the following auction ensued:
Carol decided to try a light third-hand lead-directing bid. Holding both majors, Minnie opted for a takeout double. Rather than mention his spade suit, Bob elected to raise his partner, hoping perhaps to entice the opponents into bidding up to something they could not make. When that was passed around to south, Minnie was afraid to mention her weak heart suit now for fear of showing a better hand and getting into trouble vulnerable, so she passed.
Faced with an unattractive choice, south led the ace of hearts. Her partner's
four-spot did not look encouraging, so she tried the ace of clubs, observing
partner's equally discouraging play in that suit. Becoming desperate, Minnie opted
for the Sacramento Coup. She cashed the ace of spades and
promptly followed up with a low spade, hoping to fool declarer.
This ploy proved disastrous. Noting north's prior play of a small spade, and being short of tricks in any case, Carol let the spade lead ride around to her jack. Now, she played a diamond to the ace, cashed the king of spades, and led the queen of hearts. Grabbing the king, Mickey could do no better than to return his remaining heart. Needing another entry to dummy, Carol trumped her own good jack to this position:
Declarer finessed the jack of diamonds, cashed the diamond king, then led her last trump to north's queen. Endplayed, Mickey was forced to lead away from his queen of clubs, enabling declarer to win the last two tricks in that suit. Two Diamonds, bid and made! In the postmortem it was decided that once Minnie underled her queen of spades, it was too late to defeat the contract; in fact, several winning lines were available at that juncture.
This board received a rather different reception at the other table:
In fourth position, Alice opened 2♦, Flannery, showing four spades and five
hearts. Her partner Ted either forgot their system or was off in his own little
world, because he happily passed with his
four-card diamond support. As east,
Donald had nothing more to say.
After being apprised of Ted's failure to alert the conventional opening bid, Daisy
decided that it might be a good idea to play on trumps, since declarer could not hold
many of those. She cashed the ace of diamonds, then continued with the deuce to
her partner's jack. Not knowing who still held the
understandably cashed his high trump, thereby giving up his own last chance to defeat
the contract by way of repeated club plays.
Having no clear direction, Donald switched to a tricky six of spades, which was ducked to west's king. Daisy tried her best by returning a club; but declarer correctly guessed to play the ten, forcing east's king and south's ace. Now it was a simple matter for Alice to cross to dummy's king of hearts, draw the last trump, and play on hearts, fulfilling her contract with a winner to spare.
During the score comparison, Minnie announced, "Two Diamonds, making
two." Captain Donald said, "Push." Scoring up that board as
a tie left his team with a
two-imp margin of victory.
Imagine Donald's surprise when, as he started over to the other table with a scoring
ticket, he encountered Bob coming his way for the same reason. Only then did
Donald learn that, on the fateful board, 90 points actually had been scored
against his team at both tables, for an overall two-imp loss of the
Not only were the results on Board #4 noteworthy, it was subsequently determined with the help of analytical software that this deal is relatively unique in another regard:
Every declarer can make
1♦ against best
No one had been aware that such a fantastic scenario was even possible; but everyone was in agreement that a hand such as this was not likely to come their way again, nor would they want it to.