(Some spots corrected from original post--thanks, Kenny.) I played in a Chicago-area sectional Swiss yesterday with Drew Becker and Kenny Zuckerberg/Bill Drewett. It was a good turnout numerically, with about 50 teams. As for quality: There were two teams in the (stratified) field with national-caliber players, but as for the rest …it felt as if every time we came back with a moderate card, our teammates had a 1400 and an 800 for a blitz, and vice-versa! I know there were some decent teams out there, but we didn’t seem to be playing them. After 6/7 matches we were undefeated, had beaten both good teams (in close matches) and had 101 VPS. In the Swiss I wrote about in July, 100 clinched for my team after 6, but that was a flighted regional; yesterday 101 was good for only a 1 VP lead over Katz/Demirev, Miller/Carmichael, and Lehman/Melson. They would be playing the other star team, so our chances were fairly good. Alas, we suffered our first loss by 1, they won by 2, and that made the final score 111-110. I was left to contemplate the overtricks I had blown against 2NT on the final board of the day. But if there was any justice, the imp my partner earned on defense against the eventual winners back in our second match would have proved decisive:
North: JT9x Qx QJTxx Ax
West: KQxx Kxx Axx KQx East: xxx xxx K9xx JTx
South: Ax AJT9x 8 xxxxx
Partner (West) opened 1NT, passed around to South, who balanced with 2C showing hearts and a minor; North bid 2D (denying 3 hearts) and South corrected to 2H and played there. Drew led a small trump; declarer won the Q and played ace and a club…and I won the trick, because Drew had dropped an honor under the CA. I managed to get a second trump on the table, and this defense held declarer to his contract. This was a 1-imp gain for our side (see comments for the sequence at the other table.). Sadly, this particular imp was not worth the VP we would need at the end of the day.
Of course, a diamond underlead could accomplish the same thing…maybe my club plays should convey suit-preference if partner doesn’t unblock, so he can underlead, but that is hardly routine. Finally, notice that if declarer decides that not letting me win a club trick is the vital issue, he needs to lead a club from hand so he can duck if partner splits. This might be the wrong play, of course; it could look bad on poor breaks.