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A Trick Too Late

Nothing frustrates me more then realizing a trick too late that I played the wrong card and should have gotten it right.

A few weeks ago at a local sectional I found myself in a difficult 4 contract...

North
AK52
AQ43
Q3
K83
Me
764
J109752
2
Q72
W
N
E
S
1
X
1
2
3
4
P
P
P

3 is the correct bid, but I was worried this would create a misunderstanding, so I chose a frisky 2 over a cautious pass. LHO leads the A and continues with the K, his partner following up the line (standard carding). I ruffed and drew trump in two rounds with the aid of the heart finesse, LHO having the doubleton K. The first hurdle was crossed, but things still looked pretty bleak. Either I needed to play one of my opponents for Ax, or get the person with the A to lead clubs.

At this point, I decided to lead a low spade off of dummy, hoping that LHO would win with a stiff honor and have to lead away from the A (that didn't leave much for RHO in the way of high cards, but I did not see a better option).  RHO inserted the 10, I followed with the 4 and LHO played 9.  So that didn't work.  RHO now exited with the Q, LHO followed with the 8, and that's when I knew I had blown it.

Do you see why?


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I had carelessly wasted the 4. With the 4, I had the potential for a strip squeeze and endplay, but without it, the spades were blocked.  To see why, here's how the play went.

I won the K on dummy, and led a club to my Q which won. Now I ran all my trumps to come down to a 3-card end position:

West
J
J10
North
A5
K
East
J3
A
Me
6
72
D

Now I can lead my last club, and RHO is endplayed into leading a spade, but with the 6 in my hand, he can play a low spade.  I must win in my hand with the 6 instead of on dummy with the 5, and must then lose another club trick. But if I had the 4 instead, then I could overtake it with the 5 and discard my club loser.  If only I could have the 4 back.

Sure, my RHO can always beat the hand legitimately, by either ducking when I played a spade off the board, or exiting a low spade, but those defenses would look really stupid on other layouts.  I don't believe too many opponents would find the legitimate defense to my spade unblock.

I admit I did not see this situation or anticipate RHO's trick 6 problem in advance. So having this "flash of brilliance" to engineer a cool strip-squeeze endplay a trick too late, makes me feel worse then not seeing it at all. But that's what makes this game so humbling, and keeps me coming back for more.

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