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The Cherokee warned us about Spearfinger
(Page of 5)

(Edited 4/22/2017 11;25 PM to correct NS hands)

Some believe that truth underlies folklore.  The Great Smoky Mountains have more than their share of stories and tall tales.  I've always shrugged them off as wild imagination from a time when belief mattered more than fact and bias filtered our understanding of what we didn't understand.  I knew nothing of Spearfinger until today, when I am certain I witnessed her vengeance at my table. 

The Smokies are the most popular National Park in the USA.  If you love nature you must visit and spend time exploring here.  If you love bridge then you will join the thousands that flock to the largest Regional Tournament in the ACBL. 

You were asked by an old friend to play in Bracket II KOs.  Since you would never turn down this opportunity, you grab your best partner and play.  After modest success in round 3 (up 25 at the half) you find another mundane hand.  Little do you know...

You play Precision.  Partner is steady and imaginative.  Your opponents are very steady and you are lucky to be up at the half. You spread the pasteboards and see:

West
Qx
Qxxxx
KJx
KQx
W
N
E
S
1
P
?

Your choices are:

  • 2N Jacoby Forcing Raise,
  • 4 as a 2-way raise - either preemptive or a balanced opening hand with no slam aspirations opposite common maximums). 
  • 1N (Forcing) then 4 - however this typically shows a preemptive hand with one trick on the side. 

So what's your pleasure?

From the previous page:

West
Qx
Qxxxx
KJx
KQx
W
N
E
S
1
P
?

Jacoby 2N promises 4 trumps and either a balanced hand or a hand too strong for a splinter bid.   On the other hand, 4 usually promises only 3-4 trumps and little shortness.  1N then 4 would bring a singleton or void, 5+ trumps and one trick outside

Not thinking too deeply, you chose a pedestrian 4.  Partner duly alerted and explained your agreement.  The auction continues

West
Qx
Qxxxx
KJx
KQx
W
N
E
S
1
P
4
P
P
X
?

Your next decision please...

West
Qx
Qxxxx
KJx
KQx
W
N
E
S
1
P
4
P
P
X
?

It seems fairly useful to rewrap this auction at this point so partner knows which of the two hand types you have.  Do you agree?  Well, that's what happened:

West
Qx
Qxxxx
KJx
KQx
W
N
E
S
1
P
4
P
P
X
XX
4
X
P
?

Do you act?

There a sudden chill in the room, the lights flicker and dim... your call please...

You choose to pass, trusting partner's judgment.  Besides you have soft values that will be somewhat omroe useful on defense than offense. 

Before partner leads he calls the Director.  We review the auction and they huddle away from the table.  The director says play on and monitors us throughout.  Partner leads the J. Here's the Dummy (South) you see. 

West
Qx
Qxxxx
KJx
KQx
South
x
A109xxx
xxx
Jxx
W
N
E
S
1
P
4
P
P
X
XX
4
X
P
P
P

Partner puts the J on the table. Any ideas what's going on yet? Better still do you see what the final outcome will be? There's a chill in the air...

(Spearfinger is watching her latest handiwork...)

Partner's J runs to the Declarer's K!!.  Declarer plays a small toward dummy and Partner wins the A.  The 10 from partner runs to Dummy's J, your Q and Declarer's A.  Another small from declarer is ducked to your Q.  You and partner clear 2 rounds of and partner continues with a low .  Have you pictured partner's hand yet?

When the dust settled, declarer made only 4 tricks. 

West
Qx
Qxxxx
KJx
KQx
North
J8xxx
K
Axx
Axxx
East
AK109x
J
Qxxx
109x
South
x
A109xxx
xxx
Jxx
W
N
E
S
1
P
4
P
P
X
XX
4
X
P
P
P
D
4X North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Having watched the play and result, the Director ruled no adjustment - a mechanical mistake occurred and there were no UI/MI issues with the subsequent bidding.  The play was demonic...

"The misty ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains are home to many ghost stories, but few are as terrifying as the Cherokee legend of Spearfinger. According to legend, the witch had a long, sharp finger made of stone, and she walked the Smokies’ trails disguised as an elderly woman and lured children who wandered too far from their village. She’d hold the children and sing them to sleep and then used her stone finger to cut out their livers, which she would eat. There’s also the tale of a settler who was murdered on the north shore of Lake Fontana while looking for his daughter, and lost hikers have reported a mysterious light that leads them back."  See: http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/eco-tourism/photos/8-creepiest-places-in-us-national-parks/norton-creek-trail-great-smoky

The irony compelling...

Unfortunately for our Canadian opponents (who were the utmost gentlemen under the circumstances), their teammates combined to reduce their deficit by 8 IMPs to -17 in the final 12 boards. We moved on to the Bracket II finals, but were haunted by the margin on that demonic board: +18 IMPs. Time to throw some salt over our shoulder and move toward the sunlight.

Beware Spearfinger. 

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