Hand of the Month - January 2006

This month's hand turned up during the recent North American Pairs District 23 finals. It's one of those "oh pooh, what do I do now?" hands.
South is the dealer, no one is vulnerable, and you are North. You pick up this hand:

♠ K J 7
♥ 6
♦ 10 8
♣ A K Q J 8 6 3

A nice enough hand; but the auction quickly turns ugly:

East South West North

2♠ ???

Well? Now what? You're well familiar with your partner's weak twos; sometimes they're emaciated, let alone weak. So, let's bid our suit and see what happens:

East South West North

2♠ 3♣
3♠ Pass
Pass ???

And it's back to you. With both opponents bidding spades, you can be pretty sure partner doesn't have wasted values there. You have 7 tricks in the club suit (hopefully!) and the opening spade lead will give you a trick. Partner should have some sort of heart trick (he wouldn't open with ♥Q J 9 5 4 3 and out, would he?), that comes to nine tricks. But those two little diamonds ...
Just in the nick of time, you remember something you read in one of Zeke Jabbour's articles: "think of what you'd do if you weren't afraid, then do it." Gritting your teeth, you pull the 3NT card out of the bid box. Everyone passes.

East makes the opening lead: ♦4. Your heart stops for a moment, then partner puts down:

♠ 3
♥ A 10 9 8 7 3
♦ Q J 9
♣ 10 9 2

Christmas time! West wins a high diamond and returns the suit to East's high diamond, and you win the diamond return. Then you take your nine tricks and go home. Now, if East had led a heart ...

So, after this gutsy effort, did you clean house? Nahhh - too many bonehead plays, it just wasn't your day. Also ran. Such is life.

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