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Playing in a regional Sunday swiss with my wife Anne. Fourth round and we are in contention. The opponents at our table are one of my former juniors from the USBF junior program playing with his regular partner with whom he recently won a national championship. The match takes on special significance because, while I love "my kids", I sure don't want to let them beat me.

Our teammates are a couple of grand life masters who often play professionally. Our opponents at the other table are a husband and wife couple.

Before we start, Annie looks across at the other table to make sure she is sitting in the same seat as the wife. Her theory is that we should win if she plays better than the wife and I play better than the husband.

So I pick up

South
Qx
AKQ10xx
x
AQ10x
Playing precision, I open 1C and our auction proceeds (the opponents passing throughout):

1C (16+)-1H (8-11, not 5 spades, not A, A, K)

2H-3H (4+ trump, balanced, 3S+ splinters)

3NT (non-serious slam try, denies spade control)-4D (last train, spade control, denies club control, ambiguous as to diamonds)

4H-P.

Knowing we are off the CK, it looked to me that slam was at best on a finesse and could even go down at the five level. (I have suggested to Annie that we should flip 3S and 3NT but she is "not interested.")

At the other table, our counterparts playing 2/1 bid:

1H-3D (4 trump limit)

4S (keycard)-5D (2 without)

6H.

The opening lead was a small spade and this is what he saw:

North
Axx
9xxx
AQxx
Jx
South
Qx
AKQ10xx
x
AQ10x

How would you proceed?

It appears to be "one of two finesses." His opponents are capable of leading from the SK. If the spade finesse loses, declarer can fall back on the club finesse. But our opponent played SA, then CJ, and when it wasn't covered, the CA. He pulled trump and finessed the DQ. When that won he pitched his spade on the DA and conceded a club. The SK and CK were both offside. We lost the match by less than this board's swing.

After the match, I asked my counterpart two questions. "Keycard on SQx?" to which he responded, "What do you want me to do? Cuebid and tell the opponents what to lead?" And "Why did you play the way you did?" "They didn't double 5D."

Damn you, Jeff Meckstroth.

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