I often get phone calls from David Berkowitz. Out on the tournament trail, usually playing with regular partner Alan Sontag, I get to hear tales of this HOF-duo. Recently, David called me from a knockout match in a Denver regional. White against Red, "Sonty" was dealt: K9865
David dealt and opened 1 (Precision--strong, forcing, artificial). RHO overcalled 2 which showed clubs and either major.
Instead of hoping to collect a juicy vulnerable penalty, Sonty chose to just bid 2 (natural, 5+ spades and GF).
LHO bid 3 and David bid 4. This meant that David had a big hand (worth approximately 16+) and a good diamond suit (at least 5 -- but you'd think at least 6 to introduce the suit at this level). RHO bid 4. So, it had gone:
* Precison & +Major
Expecting partner to have good diamonds, Sonty control-bid 5. David now jumped to 7! This might be okay. He likely has the A, A and solid diamonds -- so all should be well.
But, the opening lead is the A. This was my conversation as David continued to tell me the story:
Larry: "I guarantee you ruffed it. I know it is strange they have 12 hearts -- but I know your bidding and there is no way you would have jumped to 7 with a first-round heart loser."
David: "You know me well. I did ruff."
Larry: "No doubt you had the A, -- so what about the diamonds?"
David: "I was missing the queen."
Larry: "So, you had 7? Did you play for the drop?"
David: "Not 7."
I knew if he had 6, that the percentages favor a 1st-round finesse (4-1 with Qxxx is much more likely than playing for the singleton queen offside by laying down a high one first).
Larry: "Only 6?"
David: "I said it the first time. I was missing the queen."
I pondered this a little longer and then finally figured out that he had 10 diamonds!! All that was missing was the queen. He meant it literally.
His hand: A7
Next time someone tells you they are missing the queen, maybe you'll think of this one. Incidentally, I recall having a 10-card suit only twice in my life. The odds are that you will get a 10-card suit about once every 59,000 deals. So, if you play 3 sessions a week (say 72 deals) and every week -- that is 3,744 deals a year. That would mean a 10-card suit every 16 years or so.