Stamford Advocate (Sunday)

The coming storm


“One thing I’ve learned,” a player at my club told me, “is that if I ever ask my wife what’s wrong, the speed at which she answers ‘Nothing’ is inversely proportion­al to the severity of the coming storm.”

My friend was today’s North, playing in a duplicate event.

“My wife was South,” he said, “and when she jumped to five clubs, I figured I could bid six when I held two high honors in her suits. West led a trump, and my wife inspected my dummy with distaste. She won with the ace and tried leading a low spade, hoping East might play the ace.

“When instead he played the queen, my wife ruffed, cashed all her trumps but one and took her four diamond tricks. The defenders saved hearts, and my wife lost two hearts at the end for down one.

“I knew she was annoyed. When I asked her what was wrong, she said ‘Nothing’ before I barely got the words out, and I knew I was in trouble. This morning my coffee was served cold.”

I suppose my friend’s wife was upset over his six-club bid, but it was reasonable. If she could contract for 11 tricks not knowing he had at least two useful cards, maybe she could win 12. (South might also have been upset with herself for not bidding 3NT.)

North had a right to grumble since the slam was makeable. After South ruffs the queen of spades, she ducks a heart. She wins the trump return and cashes four rounds of diamonds to discard a heart from dummy. When (luckily for declarer) West must follow, South can take the ace of hearts and ruff her last low heart in dummy.

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