These hands were from the La Jolla Unit Game on September 23, 2018.
The bidding went: 1♣ by South; pass; 1♦ by North; pass; 1♥ by South; pass; 2♣ by North. Kent Hartman “pre-balanced” with 2♠ in the East seat. The defense slipped slightly and we made nine tricks. Since N/S make 2♣, it was important that he did not sell out. This is a classic matching “balancing” auction, not wanting to allow the opponents to play with a fit at a low level. Partner will usually have 3 or four spades on this auction, but it takes nerves of steel to bid that 4-card suit at the 2 level.
Five out of 19 east-west pairs played in 2♠. Two pairs were down 1; one pair made 2; two pairs made 3.
West: ♠103 ♥10874 ♦Q652 ♣QJ3
East: ♠QJ92 ♥AKJ2 ♦A8 ♣A95
Everyone was vulnerable. The auction went: pass by West; pass by North; 1♣ by East; 1♠ by South; pass by West; 1NT by North; Double by East (showing a BIG hand—probably 18 to 19—and desire to compete); 2♦ by South and double by me as West. I could have trotted out 2♥ since I did have four of them and it seemed likely that partner had four hearts on this auction. However, I felt it likely hearts might break badly on the auction (as they did), and the penalty double seemed our best shot for a plus. [Double Dummy we make 3NT on our 24 HCP, but we were never finding that contract.]
It sounded like Declarer had either a singleton club or a singleton heart, so we would have a tap suit. I led the ♣Q and found ♣K8742 in Dummy. When my queen held, I continued with the ♣J and partner played the ♣9 as Declarer played the ♣10, so time to switch. I switched to the ♥10 (from ♥10874) catering to the possibility of four hearts in Kent's hand. My ♥10 won as partner played the ♥2 and Declarer played the ♥9. I continued with the ♥8 to partner's ♥J and Declarer ruffed. When all was finished, Declarer was down 2.
We were the only pair defending 2♦*. [This continues the record that Kent and I hold of having at least one, often more, bidding sequence and result that is not duplicated at any other table.] One pair defended 2♠* for the same 500 to E/W. Several E/W pairs were going down in a 4♥ contract.
The full hand was:
East: ♠K64 ♥J987 ♦QJ96 ♣J5
West: ♠AQ873 ♥AQ ♦— ♣Q87643
This hand was good example of the power of Losing Trick Count (LTC). East passed and South opened 1♦; I was West and overcalled 1♠. North passed and partner raised me to 2♠. South rebid 3♣ and I jumped to 4♠—having a 4-loser hand by LTC. The lead was the singleton the ♣2. After cashing two top clubs, RHO tried the ♦A which I ruffed. I need to ruff a club on Dummy to establish my suit, but don't want to create a trump promotion situation opportunity, so I cashed two high spades first, ending in my hand, and before playing a low club. LHO ruffed with the ♠J as I discarded a heart from Dummy. LHO played another diamond. I played the ♦Q from Dummy and ruffed out RHO's ♦K. My clubs were good to discard losing hearts from Dummy, so I never needed to risk the heart finesse even though it was odds on to work.
Out of 19 tables, 6 pairs bid the spade game, and an additional two pairs sacrificed at 5♦ (presumably over 4♠).