Sometimes, pessimism pays off

      Jacob Morgan, Madison WI, brings home a tough contract against a powerhouse team.


The Harris team (Marty Harris, Jacob Morgan, Dan Gerstman and Tom Carmichael) was an underdog at the U.S. Bridge Federation Trials, held in Chicago in June 2007. The event drew 25 expert teams, all vying for a trip to the Bermuda Bowl world championships, but the relatively young Harris foursome made it all the way to the quarter-finals. In this deal from their final match against the powerful Ekeblad team, 30-year-old Jacob Morgan showed the declarer-play technique that helped his team do so well.
  

QJ8

1083

AK

AKQ87  

  IMPs, none vulnerable

 

  West  
 
Moss

  North  
 
Harris

     East 
 
Gitelman

  South 
 
Morgan

2H*

DBL

Pass

2S

Pass

  3H

Pass

4D

   Pass

4S

    All Pass

 * Weak 2-bid

  73

  AKJ62

  1098               

  653   

  

10952  

Q7

Q652                  

J42       

AK64

954

J743               

109       

North, Marty Harris, cuebid 3H to try for a notrump game, but settled on the Moysian (4-3) spade fit after Jacob bid 4D to deny a heart stopper. West, Brad Moss, got off to the best defense by cashing three top hearts, then leading a fourth heart for the unhelpful ruff-sluff.

That put Jacob at a crossroads. If spades were 3-3, he could ruff in dummy with an honor, pull trump and claim ten "easy" tricks. If spades were 4-2, he must ruff with dummy's 8 and maneuver from there.

His only clues were West's 2H opening on a five-card suit (more attractive with a doubleton spade than with xxx?) and East's pitch of the 4 on the third heart. Neither provided much help, so Jacob had to trust his instincts.

On a day when little else had been easy, perhaps Jacob had the feeling that this layout would be just as challenging, so he went with the line that catered to 4-2 spades. He ruffed the fourth heart with dummy's 8. Fred Gitelman, East, refused the over-ruff, pitching the 2, and Jacob carefully pitched the 9 from his hand. He cashed dummy's Q and J, then ran dummy's good clubs. East, who still had two trumps, could ruff in whenever he liked, but Jacob could over-ruff with the K, draw the last trump with his A and claim with good tricks in dummy. 

Note that Jacob's line of play succeeds when spades are 4-2 and when spades and clubs are 3-3. When the hand was played at his team-mates' table, their opponents -- world champions Lew Stansby and Chip Martel -- had a similar auction with the North-South cards and arrived at the same 4S contract. The defense was the same to the first four tricks, but Stansby guessed for spades to be 3-3 and ruffed the fourth heart with dummy's queen. That resulted in -50 and a 10-IMP win for Jacob's team.


Copyright 2007 -- Karen Walker