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You have a good hand for your bidding and start to wonder whether you can advance from Game towards Slam. You realise that if partner has particularly suitable cards, Slam will be easy. You bid on and the (predictable) disappointing dummy is tabled. You go down in your ambitious contract. You try to justify your optimism to partner: “If you’d held…” Sounds familiar?
♠ K 7 5 4
♥ 10 9 5 4
♦ A K 6
♣ 9 7
♠ 9 6 2
♥ 7 6
♦ Q 10 7 4 3 2
♣ 8 6
♠ A J 10 8 3
♦ J 8 5
♣ A K 5 3
♥ A K Q 8 3 2
♣ Q J 10 4 2
|1 ♠||2 ♥|
|Pass||4 ♥||Pass||4 N|
|Pass||5 ♦||Pass||5 ♥|
South was strong for his 2♥ overcall and his thoughts turned to Slam after his partner had jumped to 4♥. “If my partner holds ♣AK and either ♦A or ♠A……or if he holds ♣K, ♦A and ♠A…” South persuaded himself to ask for aces with 4NT. North’s 5♦ reply showed one ace; the partnership were missing two aces so South signed off in 5♥.
The defence was quick - West led ♠6 to East’s ♠A and East cashed ♣AK. He tried a third ♣ but West was unable to trump higher than dummy’s ♥10. Declarer drew trumps and claimed but was one down. Guilty of playing the “if game”, he should have paid off to the occasional perfect fit and passed 4♥.
ANDREW’S TIP: Do not play partner for perfect cards. As soon as you find yourself saying “If”, take the cautious route!