Don Stiefel of Beachwood will celebrate his 98th birthday
tomorrow. He can't hear as well as he used to but you better
stay awake when you are playing against him.
I have had the opportunity to be Stiefel's partner once in a
while, and I jotted this hand down a couple of years ago when we
played at a local duplicate game. The opening lead was the king
of spades. Stiefel called for the four from dummy while East
contributed the two.
In this situation, East was playing his lowest card to show
that he did not hold any constructive cards in the suit. If
Stiefel won the ace, East would gain the lead with the king of
diamonds and return a spade through South's jack-nine, allowing
West to score four spade tricks and defeat the contract.
The problem, however, was what West could do if South does
not win the ace. A spade continuation would be good for declarer
while a shift to the jack of hearts would be a disaster. Stiefel
thought for a moment before playing to trick one and then
smoothly followed with the jack of spades! It now appeared as
though he had started with the ace-jack doubleton and that East
had started with the nine-three-two. West had no trouble
continuing with the queen of spades.
Stiefel won the ace and led the queen of diamonds. When
West did not cover, he finessed and East won the king. Had East
had another spade, that suit would have divided four-three and
all would be well. As it was, East could do no better than to
lead the king of hearts. Stiefel won the ace and ran off seven
minor suit winners to go along with his two major suit aces.
Three no trump, bid and made on this hand was a great result.
Now be honest, are you up to making a play like this today?
Do you think that you will be ready when you are 98?