Misplay These Hands With Me


Mark Horton
In 2008, Mark Horton’s Misplay These Hands With Me, a wry homage to the late Terence Reese, was shortlisted in the Master Point Press Book of the Year contest. In this new series, he presents a further selection of deals written in the style of the master where the unsuccessful declarer subsequently realizes that he might have followed a stronger line.

Communication Cord

The Olympiad is one of the best of the World Championship events, and in the early rounds it is not so intense as the Bermuda Bowl, as it includes players of every standard. We have
survived the preliminary stage and it is early in the quarterfinals when, as South, I pick up this hand (we are vulnerable):

♠ Q 9 4
K Q 9 5
Q 10 6 4 2
♣ K

West deals and opens 2 — a convention with which I can claim a modest connection, the once-feared Multi — and when my partner passes East responds with 2, asking West to clarify his hand. I have nothing to say, but when West passes, showing a weak two-bid in hearts, partner comes to life with a double, which we play as a takeout. East passes and I am considering the wisdom of converting this to penalty by passing when I notice the vulnerability. That persuades me to jump to 3NT. This has been our auction:

West North East South
2 (1) Pass 2 (2) Pass
Pass Dbl Pass 3NT
All Pass

(1) Weak two-bid in a major.
(2) Pass or correct.

West leads a fourth-best 7, and partner delivers a reasonable collection:

♠ K 8 6 3
3
A K J
♣ Q J 5 3 2
♠ Q 9 4
K Q 9 5
Q 10 6 4 2
♣ K

When East plays the J, I win with a mildly deceptive king. The play to trick one appears to mark West with six hearts to the A–10, so I am inclined to place the black aces with East. Assuming the diamonds will be good for five tricks, I need three more. Two from clubs and one from spades should suffice, so at trick two I play the ♣K, which holds the trick. When I cross to the A, everyone follows and I play the ♣Q. East pounces on that with the ace, but instead of the expected heart he returns a club. That forces out dummy’s jack and leaves someone with the master club. I try to sneak a spade past East, but he rises with the ace and plays a heart. West takes two tricks in the suit and cashes the ♣10 to leave me one down. The full deal:

♠ K 8 6 3
3
A K J
♠ 5 ♣ Q J 5 3 2 ♠ A J 10 7 2
A 10 8 7 4 2 J 6
9 3 8 7 5
♣ 10 9 6 4 ♠ Q 9 4 ♣ A 8 7
K Q 9 5
Q 10 6 4 2
♣ K

Post Mortem

Once the ♣K held, I should have foreseen the danger and simply played a heart myself, cutting the link between the defenders (the queen caters for East having started with an unlikely J 10). West will win, but is then out of the game.

At the other table, East won the first club to play a second heart. Now declarer was in no danger, eventually emerging with 10 tricks and plus 630.

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