A New Lesson
(Page of 3)

Playing against world class opponents you pick the following hand (rotated):

South
KJ103
2
Q1065
J743

Partner opens 1 showing 15+ any shape, RHO gets in with Suction 1 showing either hearts or black suits. Your X would show 7+ hcp without a decent 5 card suit and you happen to have 7 hcp without a decent 5 card suit so you don't have a bidding problem. After your double LHO bids 1 (pass or correct) and it floats to you. Partner's pass is forcing and you play penalty doubles in this situation so the "obvious" take out double is not an option. However, you have an easy 1 bid promising only 4 cards. Your screenmate pushes the tray to the the other side and it comes back with 4 from LHO and 4 from partner.

LHO leads the K and this is what you see:

North
AQ82
1086
A2
KQ92
South
KJ103
2
Q1065
J743
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
1
P
P
1
4
4
P
P
P

First thoughts?

North
AQ82
1086
A2
KQ92
South
KJ103
2
Q1065
J743
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
1
P
P
1
4
4
P
P
P

LHO's bidding shows lots of red cards and most likely one of the black suits is 4-1. If LHO had a singleton club, he might have lead it, and you would have been one down in the start with a diamond loser for trick 13, so it looks like RHO has 4 spades and you are going at least one down.

RHO encourages with the 2 and LHO continues with the Q, which you ruff. On a lucky day both the A and the 9 are singletons and you have an easy make. You lead the 4 to the king winning (LHO following with the 5 and RHO with the 6). At this point you probably should play clubs and let the opponents take the beating ruff but it might be a little tough in the post mortem, if, against all expectations, both black suits were 3-2. So you ruff the last heart and play KJ of spades. As expected, LHO discards the 7.

Against any reasonable defense you are going down now. If LHO is out of hearts, he can take the A and give a club ruff. If he still has a heart, he can play that to force you.

You lead a club and surprisingly win with the queen. You continue with a club and RHO discards the 4. LHO wins and continues with 9.

North
AQ
A2
9
South
Q1065
3
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
1
P
P
1
4
4
P
P
P

Now what?

North
AQ
A2
9
South
Q1065
3
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
1
P
P
1
4
4
P
P
P

Now you can make the contract, if you guess which mistake LHO has made. There are two possibilities: LHO is out of hearts and failed to give the club ruff or LHO failed to force dummy with his remaining heart.

RHO's clubs were T6 and he followed with the 6 to the first club (standard count).  You have already showed KJT of spades so you cannot have 5 spades as KJTxx would have qualified as a decent suit. You come to the conclusion that LHO is now out of hearts. The jump to 4 on x KQx KJxxxx Axx seems a bit weird but you have seen him bid 3 to vulnerable multi with Kx xxxx ATxx Kxx and the opponents are known to bid a lot in preemptive situations with short support.

Careful now! If RHO really has 6 hearts, then his shape is 4-6-1-2 and he has just discarded his only diamond. If you go up with the A, RHO ruffs and you are going to lose a diamond in the end.

You make a one more mental re-check and play low from dummy. RHO wins his (now) singleton king and you make only the AQ of spades in the end.

The full hand (rotated):

West
6
KQ75
J9873
A85
North
AQ82
1086
A2
KQ92
East
9754
AJ943
K4
106
South
KJ103
2
Q1065
J743
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
1
P
P
1
4
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

In 1987 I learned the hard way that if an action by an opponent is either a brilliancy or a blunder, you should play for the blunder and congratulate in case the brilliancy. The new lesson from this hand was that there is no such situation where an action is 100% obvious to a defender. In case of two possible mistakes, you should probably go for the lesser mistake but if there are sufficient evidence available, you should not disregard a total blunder.

This hand haunted me for hours after the match (luckily I was sitting out the last match of the evening). I still don't know if I should have guessed it correctly; at least here I have the chance to get out some of that frustration.