Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
In order to improve in any pursuit it is prudent to take advice from the experts. With the explosion of bridge websites on the Internet there is a wonderful opportunity for enthusiasts not only to read the written word of masters but to actually see them in action. Bridge Base Online is one such site where you can watch top-flight competitions from all over the world at virtually any time of the day or night.
I was watching a match between Ireland and England when the illustrated hand came up. It was late in the contest and the Irish, sitting North and South, were trailing by a considerable margin and needed to make something happen. Holding 10 high card points and anemic spot cards, North passed and East opened 1spade. While some players may have bid 2 clubs, South decided to pass, as did West. Now North made a balancing takeout double.
After East passed South jumped to 3 clubs to show a good hand in context. North now showed his 5 card heart suit and South, needing a “swing” result, gambled on a bid of 3 no trump. When this was passed around to East he made a conventional call known as a “Lightner Double” which specifically asks for partner to lead dummy’s first bid suit. West obliged by leading the heart 10 to show his partner that he had no heart higher.
At this point the experts who regularly commentate on this website all agreed that it looked like the Irish pair had bitten off more than they could chew as there were only 6 sure tricks in view. Declarer called for the jack which was won by East’s queen and that player continued with the spade King, ducked by South. Now East was beginning to feel some pressure as he had difficulty in choosing his next lead knowing that whatever he did was likely to benefit declarer.
After some thought, East exited with a low heart on which South discarded the diamond 5 and was covered by West’s 8 and dummy’s king. Now declarer felt he was in control. His next move was to play dummy’s last spade to his 9 and when that held he ran all his 5 club winners and East was inexorably squeezed. He tried pitching the heart ace (a card he was known to hold) but this did not fool declarer.
After all the clubs had been cashed, South had 7 tricks to his credit: 1 heart, 1 spade and 5 clubs. The last four cards in his hand were the ace and jack of spades and the 10 and 8 of diamonds while the beleaguered East had come down to the king and 10 of spades, the 9 of hearts and the ace of diamonds. All that remained for South to do was to exit with a low diamond which East was forced to win and when that player had cashed the heart 9 he was forced to play one of his spades giving declarer the last two tricks and his contract.
A truly brilliant display of card reading by the Irish South had got his side right back into the contest.