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West deals
both vul
 S Q 9 6 4 
 H 2 
 D K T 6 5 
 C A 9 6 4 
 S A J 8 3 
 H Q 9 8 6 3 
 D 3 
 C J 7 5 
both vul  S K 7 5 
 H A 
 D A Q J 8 2 
 C K 8 3 2 
 S T 2 
 H K J T 7 5 4 
 D 9 7 4 
 C Q T 

West
Paul

pass
pass
North
Ralph

pass
pass
East
John

1D
dbl
South
JJ

2H
all pass
Result: down 4, NS +1100

Killed by Death
with apologies to Motörhead

This hand came up at the UBC on Thursday. Paul Russell and I had just had a storming first set, but things had been going badly for JJ and Ralph. This was the first board after they arrived at our table (I've rotated the board to put declarer South, but actually we were stationary).

JJ had a tough decision of what to do after my 1D opener—should he go quietly, or make an aggressive weak jump overcall? Ralph's pass made it likely that we had a game on, but the suit was ropy enough to make it a bit of a gamble. # If you like to gamble, I tell you I'm your man #, JJ decided; after all, it would at least increase his chance of playing the hand. # The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say. # So JJ stuck his neck out with 2H, # playing for the high one, dancing with the devil #.

Paul and Ralph passed (double by Paul would be takeout), and my double seemed obvious enough. Now it was Paul's turn to make a decision: would we do better playing in spades, or should he pass and look for a big penalty? # Double up or quit, double stake or split, the ace of spades, the ace of spades. # Perhaps it was that card that decided him, although the stiff diamond and strong hearts also argue for passing, # pushing up the ante, I know you wanna see me. #

By now, Ralph was definitely wishing JJ had decided to pass: # you know I'm born to lose, and gambling's for fools. # Anything he did was likely to get him into worse trouble, though; after some thought, he passed, # going with the flow, it's all a game to me #.

Paul led the stiff diamond, and I won the jack. Looking at dummy, it seemed like diamond ruffs would be counter-productive; I would get three diamond tricks myself if I didn't lead the suit, but I might kill some of Paul's trump tricks if I did. With an eye to avoiding being thrown in, I cashed the HA and switched to a club. JJ guessed wrong, putting in the ten, and he let Paul win his CJ. Another club was taken by the ace in dummy, and JJ led the C9, covered by the king, and ruffed it. Touching trumps seemed like a bad idea, so he led a diamond. I took my two diamond tricks and then led the C8, which was top. JJ pitched a spade, and Paul stopped to think. His last six cards were SAJ, HQ986. How big a penalty was he going to get? # Seven or eleven, snake eyes watching you #, although surely it would be "eight or eleven", either enough for a top. The added bonus of a Hat for 1100, though, was tempting. Could it be done? He realised it could—# I see it in your eyes, take one look and die #— but only if he played the right card. # The only thing you see, you know it's gonna be, the ace of spades, the ace of spades! # Of course, if JJ had the SK this would lose a spade trick, but it would still gain a trump trick—# you win some, lose some, all the same to me #—so it could only gain overall. After that spectacular discard, I could cash my SK and put a diamond through, and then Paul could claim two trump tricks, with his HQ986 sitting over the HKJT7. # Read 'em and weep, the dead man's hand again. #

So that's the story of how Paul Russell and Lemmy Kilmister picked up +1100. # And don't forget the joker... [guitar solo]... #