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Missed The Play Of A Lifetime

This happened many years ago, and I've told people about it, but I wanted to post it.


This has been repeated as a kind of "urban legend" but I wanted to affirm that it actually happened.  Unfortunately I screwed the pooch.


The setting is a two-session, one-section (17 tables) pair game in a Naples, FL regional in September 2008.  I am playing with a decent player who isn't as good or as knowledgable as he thinks he is.


In the first session we play against a pair including someone who, if you said they were the best player in the world, at least some people would agree with you, and their significant other.  We have 60% and they have 70%.  In the second session we are having an even better game, and play this pair again on the last round.  One assumes they are having a good game also, and this round could decide the event.


On the second board, superstar on my left opens 1S.  It goes two vulnerable hearts by my partner, pass-pass-double, RHO retreats to 2S, and I look at my 5-card spade suit and pass.


Partner leads an off-suit and declarer wins.  He plays a couple of trumps and sees the break, plays a bunch of cards, and at trick 11 tables the heart J from his hand, facing KTx in dummy.  Partner thinks for about 10-15 seconds and ducks.  Declarer shrugs his shoulders and calls for the king.  Here is where I fell from grace.


I won the Ace.  -110 instead of -140.


We all know that what I'm supposed to do is duck.  On the next round I win the A, partner jumps out of his chair and says "Hank, why didn't you win the Ace???" and I say quizzically "Partner, you thought so long I thought you had the Ace."


In fact, declarer mumbles under his breath "That was pretty scummy."  I realize what I've done and go over and apologize and he graciously accepts.  I check the scores and they beat up by 3/4 of a board and we are more than a board clear of third, so there is no need to call for a ruling.


To this day, my partner says "But I needed time to think."  And I've given up saying "If you didn't need time to think you were unethical; if you needed time to think you're just a bad player.  Take your pick."


I'll never get a second chance.

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