Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
Experienced players usually have a good idea of how they are doing as a duplicate session nears its conclusion. This knowledge can guide them in whether to take aggressive action in the remaining hands if they believe they are lagging behind in the standings or to play more conservatively if they sense they are doing well. The North-South pair in this month’s hand felt they needed some good results when they bid the small slam at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club in Riberas.
With East-West silent throughout, South opened proceedings in third seat with 1 spade and North responded 2 clubs, the *Two-Way Reverse Drury Convention, which in their system showed precisely 3 spades and an invitational raise. This encouraged South to investigate slam so he bid 4 no trump, Roman Keycard Blackwood and North’s response showed 2 keycards without the spade queen, so South signed off in 6 spades.
Note that South could have cue-bid a new suit sending a message to his partner that he had extra values and was going to contract for game at least, but that might have conveyed too much information to the opponents.
West led the club king and South took time out to count his losers. On the surface it looked like he had one heart loser, no spade or club losers, and if he could bring the diamond suit home for no losers the slam would make. Declarer began by winning the opening lead with North’s ace and, since he may have needed to ruff a heart if the ace were offside, he now led that suit at trick 2. East could see no reason to duck this so he won the ace and returned a club which South ruffed in hand.
Declarer now drew trumps in 3 rounds ending in the dummy and noticed with interest that West discarded a low diamond on the third spade. It seemed to South that he needed to find East with 2 or 3 diamonds including the queen so he started on that suit by cashing dummy’s ace, intending to finesse the queen on the next round if it had not appeared. To his surprise, East dropped her majesty under the ace and now it was simple to run the suit and claim his contract making.
Have you noticed the error made by West in dropping a low diamond on the third round of trumps? Presumably that player wanted to keep two suits with honors in them but was not familiar with the maxim: “keep parity with the dummy.” This means that when you have a choice of suits to discard, do not pitch from a suit that has the same number of cards as one in dummy and has the potential of producing a trick for your side. It would have been perfectly safe to let a club go as South was known to be void in that suit.
Notice that even if declarer had started this suit by playing a low card from the dummy and capturing the queen, West’s holding was such that South would have to lose one more trick and with it the contract
Column: Bridge by the Lake
Ken Masson has been playing, teaching and writing about bridge for more than 40 years. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Ken has been living in the Toronto area since 1967. He and his wife and bridge partner Rosemarie have been wintering in Lakeside since 2006. Even after all these years of playing they find bridge to be a constant challenge and enjoy sharing some of their triumphs and mishaps with Ojo readers in each column.