Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Beer Card

For those who know me and my love of beer, especially English bitter or IPA over here in the USA, it was inevitable that I would eventually write a blog on the beer card. Just a matter of time.

The scene was an ordinary extra-points club game with a new partner. Sadly, we didn't qualify for any points, extra or otherwise, but we had a good time nonetheless. There were several high points for me, and none better than board 23 which we played in round two. After a very simple auction, I became declarer (as West) in 3NT and, to cut a long story short, here is the layout (I'm using a new tool here from

Dlr: S
Vul: All





North obligingly led a heart (the 6) which of course was rather advantageous to me as it immediately bumped my trick count up by one. At that point, assuming that opening leader had the length in hearts, it seemed prudent to cross to dummy with a high spade and run the club knave into the North hand. When that proved successful, I was now up to 10 tricks with an easy addition of a spade. Not knowing the spade position, I now erred by finessing against the queen. But losing this trick also rectified the count for a squeeze. What squeeze, you may ask? Well, admittedly, it's more of a pseudo-squeeze: one opponent has to guard one red suit and leave the other for his partner.

However, I won the HA on the return, effectively making this a pseudo-Vienna coup and ran the last two spades and thirteenth club. South had to find three discards and pitched two diamonds and a heart. Meanwhile, North had only one discard to make but he chose a diamond. Both were essentially guarding against the threat of the H9 in dummy. Finally, after cashing the DK (and not finding the H9 high), I was able to cross to the DA and cash the D7, the "beer" card for the final trick.

This was worth all the matchpoints, even though, in theory, West can always take 12 tricks at notrump (either East or West can make 6C but that would be hard to reach). Making 12 tricks on a passive lead would require some very skillful card reading indeed.

But the point of this story, apart from the beer connection, is that when you have a squeeze situation (or even, as here, a pseudo-squeeze), it costs nothing to set the wheels in motion. Worst case you come out even. All that stuff about BLUE laws, threats, etc. is great of course but don't give up just because you don't have BLUE perfectly satisfied. As long as you've got L (the loser count) right, you've always got a shot at petty larceny.