Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And the award for Worst Bid and Best Played Hand goes to...

...B. Jay Becker! 

Mr. Becker played with Dorothy Hayden in the 1963 International Team Trials. They tied for fourth in the event, just shy of being placed on the USA team in the 1964 World Team Olympiad. Mr. Becker and Mrs. Hayden had a bit of a bidding misunderstanding, but Mr. Becker played the hand majestically.

As was standard at the time, Hayden's 3C (jump preference in a minor) was forcing. Mr. Becker made an invitational 4C bid... but Hayden remembered their actual agreement that 4C was Gerber (ace-asking)! She responded 4S (two aces), and when the bidding got back to Mr. Becker, he figured that any partner that bid diamonds, clubs, and spades couldn't have more than one heart-- so he bid the club slam!

Leading aces against slams may (and may not) be good matchpoint strategy, but it's awful at IMPs. So we certainly forgive Sam Stayman in the West seat for not cashing the first three heart tricks! He opened a small diamond. Mr. Becker played the jack, holding, cashed the DA for a heart pitch, ruffed a diamond, played a club to the ace, ruffed another diamond (exhausting E-W of that suit), cashed a trump, and drew trumps ending on the board leading to this position:

The diamond queen was cashed (South pitching a heart), and East (Vic Mitchell) was squeezed in a fun way. He couldn't release his spade guard, so he let go a heart honor. Mr. Becker cashed the queen of spades and led the eight of spades. Mitchell split his honors (all later agreed that Mr. Becker certainly would have stuck in the 9 if Mitchell hadn't split) and South won and exited the jack of hearts! If West hopped up with the ace, he would have to lead from the 8-5 of hearts into dummy's T-6 at trick 12, and if he didn't, East would win and have to lead from J-7 of spades into declarer's A-9!

Maybe I should stop bidding so scientifically so I get the chance to make plays like this...

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