The Better Bid, The Better Card
Holding s:Q8642 H:83 D:Q42 C:A72 with all vulnerable at IMPs, LHO opens 1D, partner bids 1S and RHO doubles (negative).
I should have bid 4S. It might make. It might be a good sacrifice against 4H. But I make our systemic “Good single raise” bid of 2H (alerted, of course). LHO bids 3D and partner bids 3S, competitive and not offering game. RHO and I pass (after all, we could be off the the first three diamond tricks if partner has xxx). LHO is back there with 4D, passed to me.
I should probably pass. Partner has made no strong big. However, I do have two extra spades. LHO’s 3D could have been frisky, but 4D after we stop in a part score should be a serious suit. Partner is probably short in diamonds. The opponents never got to hearts, so partner probably has 4 hearts, and I can take care of two of them. I don’t think 4S is a favorite, and but it might have some play. And the opponents are not the doubling type.
I bid 4S. LHO and partner pass and RHO bids 5D. I pass and partner doubles, ending the auction.
Partner leads the 3 of spades (3rd and 5th leads).
S:JT H:JTxxx D:Kxx C:Qxx
S3 led S:Q8642 H:83 D:Q42 C:A72
Dummy plays the SJ and I play the queen out of inertia.
Oops. I realize a second two late that I know the exact spade layout. Partner is showing exactly 5 spades, and would never underlead the ace, so declarer has the stiff ace. I had a really nice play available …. I could have played the Spade Deuce. When declarer wins the Ace partner will know exactly two things:
1) Declarer’s ace was stiff.
2) I strongly prefer my clubs to my hearts (since I played my lowest of four spot cards).
But I played the automatic card and now I’ve muddied the waters.
Declarer leads the Heart King and partner wins the ace. (I’ve played my lowest heart). Declarer looks like someone with KQ of hearts to me. Apparently partner believes that as well because he leads a small club (showing an honor) I win, return a club to partners king and only then does partner try to cash his spade king. But now they are down one. Declarer (an intermediate player), perhaps influenced by partners double, misplays trumps to go down 2. +500.
If I jump to 4S directly, we’re -100. We can’t make 4S, but they really can’t double or risk 5D. My slow bidding was revealing, but only to partner. My misplayed card could have cost (dearly) if partner wins the heart ace and tries to cash the spade king and declarer reads teh situation. He ruffs the spade, cashes the heart queen (pulling partners trump) and then plays the HJ. If I ruff he over-ruffs, pulls my trump, and can use a low trump to enter dummy.
Fortunately partner was awake to the this possibility (why would I take the push to 4S unless I had undisclosed offense, which pretty much has to be long spades). And by that point at the hand, the club ace was the only significant card I could have.
Playing against weak players can make you sloppy, which is why I try to figure out all the mistakes I made in a session, even if I got away with most of them. Fortunately, this is probably my 2nd worst hand of the day.
(The worst hand I will not speak of).
We survived the knock out yesterday, easily beating the team of flight B players but losing to the experts (partially due to my worst mistake, partially due to our teammates worst mistake, and due to the experts making less mistakes). But 1-1 was enough to advance. Today we’re playing heads up against a team including two competent players and two immensely strong players, so I’ll have my mistakes revealed very quickly, no introspection required.