By Ken Masson


Herself and I consider ourselves fortunate to have made many new friends during our first four “snowbird” seasons in Lakeside. It is even more gratifying that a number of them live within driving distance of our Northern home in Richmond Hill, Ontario so we can get together in Canada as well as in Mexico.

So we were delighted this summer when Sandra and Mike Shea, who spend their winters in Chula Vista, invited us to stay with them in their lovely home near Kingston, Ontario. The fact there was a Regional bridge tournament nearby at the same time was just the icing on the cake. And even when we weren’t at the tournament, a deck of cards wasn’t far away. It was during a session of “kitchen bridge” at chez Shea that Sandra found a killer defence to give me an opportunity to go wrong and I quickly jumped at the chance!

Herself opened the bidding 1NT and with Sandra and Mike silent throughout we quickly bid to a reasonable club slam. My bid of 2 spades was a transfer to clubs and North’s rebid of 2NT showed a good tolerance for clubs, at least three to a high honor. 3 hearts and 3 spades were cue-bids showing first round control and 4 NT was Roman Key Card Blackwood. 5 diamonds showed 0 or 3 key cards, the King of trumps (clubs) and the four Aces being the pertinent cards.

Normally, transfers to the minor suits show 6 + cards in the suit but as this was a friendly game, I decided to experiment a little and do it with only a 5 card holding. If partner had been unable to show adequate support for clubs (by by-passing 2NT and bidding 3 clubs) I would have had the option of placing the contract in the likely very safe 3 NT.

Against my small slam, Mike led the Spade 10 and when dummy came down I could see that I had no losers outside the trump suit and if I could limit my losers in clubs to one I would be home free. I won the spade in hand with the King and led a small trump towards the dummy. I noted Mike’s 9 of clubs with interest – if it was an honest card, I hoped that it was accompanied by the Ace or the Jack (not both!) and if I could guess which I could make my contract.

I played the club King in the dummy and Sandra followed smoothly with the 3. Now it seemed to me that Mike must have the club Ace so I confidently played dummy’s club 5 to my 10 only to see Mike scoop up the trick with his Jack! Sandra was sitting there smiling with the contract-setting Ace of trumps.

Note that if Sandra takes the club Ace immediately I will have the very real option of cashing the Queen to drop Mike’s Jack and therefore make my contract. Sandra’s duck was a sparkling play indeed.

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