I often get phone calls from my former partner David Berkowitz. I stopped playing competitive bridge, but David still likes to cause me stress by telling me stories about what he does to his current partners.
This story, he was victimizing one of the all time greats--Alan Sontag or "Sonty".
Non vul against vul opponents (playing IMPs), "Sonty" was dealt:
David (partner) 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:
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 the 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 between him and dummy was the queen. He meant it literally.
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.
Updated: April 2021