"Keep Summer Safe!"
Playing a club game (matchpoints) I pick up an average hand in the first round.
S:Q986 H:8743 D:KJ2 C:A4
Partner opens 1 Club in second seat and we have a normal-ish auction when I respond 1 Heart. He raises to 2 Hearts and I play it there.
LHO leads the diamond 8 and I see the following.
S: AT H:AQ52 D:T75 C:K952
S:Q986 H:8743 D:KJ2 C:A4
(Hand repeated for convenience)
After pausing to take it in, it goes D5, Ace, diamond deuce. RHO returns a diamond (the 4). I can't imagine this LHO has led the 8 from Q983 (or worse, Q9863) so I finesse the jack and LHO plays the 6.
Now to tackle trumps.
The heart finesse is obvious. But ... if it looses I expect my diamond king will be ruffed. For once I stop and think. At matchpoints I should play to maximize my tricks, but I'm missing the KJT9(6) of hearts. Even if the heart finesse is on, I'm always losing a trump. For example, if LHO has Kx of hearts, and I take the finesse and then drop the king, the jack still sets up. If she has KJ6 and I take the finesse, I still lose one.
And this doesn't really change if I make the safety play of playing the ace and then leading towards the queen. But it makes a really big deal if LHO has two 'small' trumps like Jx and RHO has KTx (etc) because now there's no trick to ruff.
I'm actually pretty confident in my analysis. Playing the ace is all upside and no downside. Finally -- off to a good start!
I play the ace (RHO follows with the T and LHO with the 6) cross to my hand with the club ace and pitch a small heart towards the queen. LHO rises with the king and RHO shows out, pitching a club.
LHO now leads a small spade.
I can let this ride to my queen with no risk. Even if I'm wrong and RHO wins and gives LHO a ruff, LHO has a natural trump trick. And if LHO has underled her king, well, I'm getting a great score.
LHO underled her king. Great. I win with the queen and .... mentally lose the point of the hand. The point is that LHO has a natural trump trick, so I should pull one round of trumps and then just lead out my winners, of which I have plenty. But I don't pull a round of trump and just start leading out winners. LHO ruffs, and when I get in I don't pull trump again. So I give back the trick that LHO gave me.
My typical combination of clever and stupid. Concentrate and get something right, then lose the thread.
In the end I lose a diamond and 3 trump tricks for +140. However, LHO's opening lead of a diamond (from 863) instead of the more natural club (from Tx) has solved a bunch of my timing issues. Still, +140 is a decent 6.5 out of 8, as three pairs got to four hearts (which was never allowed to make) and two pairs stopped in 1N (making one or two).
(One of the pairs played a weak NT, so was just unlucky. I don't know about the other).
An interesting hand, because of the apparent "safety" play, which are usually anathema at matchpoints. However, since a trick had to be lost in any case, this one was truly free. Except that the concentration required to find it had a cost. Ah well.
That familiar feeling of 'I almost did something brilliant.'
Nice story. Thanks for sharing.