Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
Desperate circumstances call for desperate measures and there were many frantic moments in this declarer’s play of a wafer-thin contract. This hand gave conniptions to South when it was played at one table during a match point duplicate game at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge club in Riberas, but all was well that ended well.
South opened a standard 20 to 21 high card point 2 no trump but her partner’s response was anything but standard. Admittedly, North had a number of options with his holding but his actual selection might not have won too many bidding contests. Probably the most likely contract would have been 3 hearts by South after a Jacoby Transfer sequence. Other possibilities may have included a Stayman 3 clubs with the intention of passing either major suit response, or even the pass of 2 no trump with the hope that declarer could somehow scramble 8 tricks.
But our North this month was made of sterner stuff. His glass was not just half full, it was virtually overflowing. He saw his 6 card heart suit and immediately visualized game, despite the noteworthy absence of quality cards. It is probably just as well he didn’t have two queens or else his poor partner might have found herself in a small slam!
In any event, North had Texas Transfers in his arsenal and no paltry holding of points was going to prevent him from using it. His 4 diamond bid showed 6 or more hearts and the values for game, an assessment that might not have gained universal approval.
West led the club queen and South tried to look confident as she appraised the dummy. Winning the first trick in hand with the ace, South cashed the diamond ace and ruffed a diamond in dummy to lead a small heart towards her hand. Noting the fall of the heart jack from East, declarer covered with the king and saw it won by the ace. West now continued with the club jack (nothing else would have been any better) which was won by South who now played her remaining trump towards the board. When West followed low, declarer put in dummy’s 9 which held the trick. This last play was not a random shot in the dark but an application of the Principle of Restricted Choice. When East followed with the jack on the first round of hearts, the odds favoured West holding the 10, thus South’s finesse of the heart 9.
This concept will be discussed in more depth in a future column.
South now cashed the heart queen followed by the spade 9, covered by the jack and queen, a diamond ruff in dummy, the spade 8 covered by the king and ace. Declarer continued on her merry way – West could take his trump 10 at any time but the net result was that South ended up making the unlikely total of 11 tricks for a top score on the board.
The question now, of course, is will North expect his partner to play all future hands this well and continue to overbid forever more?