The Greedy Overtrick (V) by Stephen Rzewski Playing in the familiar matchpoint venue at the local club, I pick up as dealer: ♠ AJ6 ♥ AQJ104 ♦ AK2 ♣ 75 This 19-count should certainly be upgraded with all its controls and excellent five-card suit, and as we play Puppet Stayman, I open 2NT. The opponents are silent as my partner bids 3♣. I respond 3♥, showing five-card length (both calls are alertable), and partner raises to 4♥. The auction has been: S W N E 2NT pass 3♣ pass 3♥ pass 4♥ (all pass) LHO leads the ace of clubs, and I contemplate the play: ♠ K5 ♥ K32 ♦ 10764 ♣ K1042 ♠ AJ6 ♥ AQJ104 ♦ AK2 ♣ 75 The contract appears normal, and will likely be the one reached at most tables. Those who open 1♥ with my cards will typically be given a single constructive raise by partner, or possibly a limit raise, perhaps resulting in a bad slam contract. I can’t be concerned about the latter case, but I need to try to outscore the majority of pairs who will be in game, and that can only be accomplished on the basis of overtricks. At trick #1, LHO’s lead of the ace of clubs fetches the jack from his partner. A low club is continued. I seriously doubt that LHO would have led the ace from AQxxxx with the strong hand on his right, even with six of them, so I call for dummy’s king. This turns out to be correct, as RHO follows with the queen. With the ace of clubs onside, and what appears to be an almost certain diamond loser, I would expect the normal result to be 11 tricks, so if I want to score well, I must look for a way to take the remainder. The early play appears to have put me ahead of the game, as dummy’s ♣10 is now good for the discard of a loser, and may provide me with the 12th trick I am seeking. There is a problem, however: since I can always ruff a spade in dummy, the ♣10 has value only if I can use it to get rid of a diamond. If I draw trumps first, I won’t be able to ruff a spade, and if I ruff a spade first and then draw trumps, I will have no entry to dummy to enjoy the good club. One possibility is to ruff a spade low, then draw two rounds of trumps, ending in dummy with the king, leaving one high trump outstanding if they divide 3-2, then play the good club, hoping that the last trump will be in the hand with the long clubs. That seems to be against the odds, however, as the hand with the long clubs is more likely to be short in hearts, meaning that RHO will probably be able to ruff the good club when I play it. I think there are better possibilities. There is a way to play for diamonds to be 3-3 and set up dummy's 4th diamond for the 12th trick, and if that chance doesn’t pan out, I can always fall back on the finesse of the jack of spades for the second overtrick, which is a 50% chance in itself. So in the following position, at the 3rd trick: ♠ K5 ♥ K32 ♦ 10764 ♣ 104 ♠ AJ6 ♥ AQJ104 ♦ AK2 ♣ --- I play the queen and jack of hearts, as both opponents follow suit. Now if I am going to try to establish dummy’s long diamond, I need to unblock the ace and king of that suit, taking the slight risk of having one of those cards ruffed by the opponent who holds the remaining trump. Both opponents follow again, LHO contributing the jack. I then lead a heart to dummy’s king, as LHO discards and RHO follows with the last trump. Now I call for the 10 of clubs, RHO discarding a low spade and I the deuce of diamonds. Next comes a low diamond from dummy, RHO playing the 9, I ruff, but the hoped-for queen does not appear on my left, as that player discards a low club. So the following cards remain: ♠ K5 ♥ --- ♦ 10 ♣ 4 ♠ ?xx ♠ ?xx ♥ --- ♥ --- ♦ --- ♦ Q ♣ 9 ♣ --- ♠ AJ6 ♥ A ♦ --- ♣ --- So should I now take the spade finesse? Actually, at this point that finesse has become an illusion, as I can now be sure of 12 tricks even if my jack of spades were the deuce. Instead of playing immediately on spades, I lead the last trump, which creates a double squeeze: LHO, who has to discard ahead of dummy, must keep his high club, lest dummy’s card in that suit become good, and so lets go a spade. Now I can discard dummy’s club, and the pressure then falls on RHO: he has to hold the queen of diamonds or dummy’s 10 will be established, and so must also discard a spade. Since both opponents must be down to two spades in each hand, it must be right to first play the king, then ace of spades, making the last spade in my hand good, the full deal being: ♠ K5 ♥ K32 ♦ 10764 ♣ K1042 ♠ Q1042 ♠ 9873 ♥ 86 ♥ 975 ♦ J5 ♦ Q983 ♣ A9863 ♣ QJ ♠ AJ6 ♥ AQJ104 ♦ AK2 ♣ 75 Of course, the result achieved would not have been possible had it not been for West's poor choice of opening lead, but when such opportunites are offered, one needs to exploit them to best advantage.