Have you ever heard a coach tell his players, "Don't think?" It means to just play automatically and not over-concentrate on what you're doing. Yet I find myself testing this rule in a tricky 3NT:


Partner
Kxxxxx
ATx
AKx
x

Me
SQ
HQJx
Dxxx
CAKxxxx

Partner
1
2
Pass

Me
2
3NT


The opening lead is the 9. I duck in dummy, and East hesitates before playing low too. My Q wins, but I know the K is offside.

Frankly, I'm unsure of the best line so I try the Q. The opponents duck, so I now play three rounds of clubs, pitching a spade and diamond from dummy.

The clubs luckily split 3-3 - East wins the Q on the third round. After some thought, he returns a spade. I dump a diamond as West wins the A.

West now leads the 7 with a bit of enthusiasm:


Partner
Kxx
AT
AK
--

Me
S--
HJx
Dxx
Cxxx


Ugh - where are 5 more tricks? West apparently started life with 97 or 97x. If I duck this, East could win the K and return a heart. Then I'm forced to hope that spades are 3-3.

I decide to give myself an extra chance by rising with the A, and then plunking down K and another spade. This gains whenever spades are 4-2 and West specifically has Jx 7 xxxx --. In that case, he can win his J but must return a diamond into dummy. The long spade will be my 5th trick.

In reality, spades do split 4-2 and West does win his J, but he then cashes the K and 8! Ka-boom. I feel like an idiot going down one.

The full deal:


Partner
Kxxxxx
ATx
WestAKxEast
AJxxxTx
K987xxx
JxMeQxxxx
JxxSQQxx
HQJx
Dxxx
CAKxxxx


Had I simply finessed in hearts again, I could have cashed my clubs and made two overtricks! Or better... at trick 1 simply take the A, establish clubs and hope that the defense didn't attack spades. (Thanks to Emiel Vandewiele for pointing this out.) My actual line was full of mistakes... like trying to establish the opponents' spades for them and then refusing their gift of a second heart finesse.

I think that I learned a lesson, which is to just not think at all.