In the second qualifying session of the Senior Mixed Pairs at the Providence RI NABC, Sandy McCay and I played the last round of the second qualifying session against two friends of mine. I picked up:
♠A K 9 6 ♥K 3 2 ♦Q 8 ♣K 6 4 3.
I opened 1NT and partner raised to 3NT. Left-hand opponent led the ♥4.
I played three rounds of clubs (saving the ♣5 in dummy and the ♣4 in hand). On the third round, RHO discarded the ♦7 as LHO won the ♣Q. He shifted to the ♦5. At trick one, I had asked about their discards and was told they play odd-even, so her spot was encouraging.
LHO can't possibly be leading from the king, but it couldn't hurt to duck and see what would happen. Sure enough, RHO won the ♦K and returned the jack as I won the queen, and LHO discarded a low spade.
What is going on? If hearts really were 4-4, then LHO must have had five spades with 5=4=1=3 distribution. I'm not sure why neither of them continued hearts, but I was grateful for a chance. I won the ♦Q and led a low club to dummy in this position:
On the club, LHO discarded another spade. I inferred that he must have had good hearts to lead from (Q 10 x x) and his spades are either all low ones or headed by the 10. What would you discard on the ♦A. Hint: You better save that low heart to have any chance.
I pitched a spade and so did LHO. Now the suit was splitting 2-2, so I took the top two spades, and my ♠9 was good, making three.
Here are all four hands:
♠J, forcing a cover from RHO (who likely has the queen). Now a low heart endplays LHO to force a lead back into my ♠K 9.
Yes, he could thwart me. On the ace of diamonds, he would have to discard the ♥Q! and save the 10. When I then tried to endplay him, his partner could overtake.
For making game, we scored 41.5 which was 94%.
You can see the score (Board No. 11) here.