Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
All experienced bridge players know that an important objective in bidding is for a partnership to find an 8-card major suit fit, as that is the most likely place where games can be made. However, circumstances alter cases and one must be flexible and bold enough to change strategy as conditions dictate.
This month’s hand was played at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club where West dealt and opened the normal 1 diamond. North and East passed and South had his first problem: what to bid now. If he had been sitting immediately to the left of the opener he would have had a simple 1 no trump overcall but in the pass-out seat most people play that that would show a balanced hand with about 12 to 14 high card points, so he had to find another bid.
South solved his dilemma by making a takeout double, West passed and North bid 1 spade causing another headache for South. With 17 HCP and 4 spades his first inclination was to raise his partner to at least 2 spades but another look at his hand showed that the king and jack of diamonds were in a very precarious position, namely sitting under the opener’s 1 diamond call, so he bid 1 no trump. This bid showed 15 to 17 HCP but it also tended to deny four spades.
Fortunately for this partnership, North was on the same page as South and now showed her 4 card heart suit. South showed his preference among the majors by bidding 2 spades and now North bid 2 no trump showing about 9 or 10 points and a balanced hand. That was all that South needed to bid the no trump game.
West had a difficult choice to make for his opening lead. The bidding strongly suggested that his partner would be bereft of values but he decided to hope that East would have something in diamonds so he placed the 5 of that suit on the table. Alas, on this lie of the cards, there was no way for the defenders to break this contract and all the lead did was to present declarer with an overtrick.
North-South, however, were always coming to at least 9 tricks regardless of how their opponents defended: 3 spades, 2 hearts and 4 clubs were there for the taking as long as declarer was careful to lead the first low spade towards the dummy. Note that if the spade jack is played first it will create a second winner in that suit for East.
The best news of all for North-South was that at almost every other table the contract was 4 spades by North, quickly going down on the diamond lead from East. West won the first trick with the queen, cashed the ace, gave his partner a ruff and later won another trick with the spade ace.
So, a little ingenuity and attention to the bidding paid huge dividends for this partnership. May I suggest you discuss it with your favourite partner and see if you would have been on the same wavelength?