Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson

     Among the many decisions made at the duplicate bridge table, adjusting your bidding in accordance with how well (or badly!) your game is going is sometimes among them.
     In a club game at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club, after three passes, herself, sitting South, opened the bidding 1 heart and West passed.  My hand was as flat as possible with only three hearts but I sensed that we were not having a winning game so I put an optimistic slant on my holding and made the conventional bid of 2 clubs.  This was a version of the Drury Convention which showed a limit raise in hearts with precisely 3 hearts.
     While I was hoping this would help us get to a makeable heart game, I was a little perturbed to see my partner launch into the Roman Keycard Blackwood Convention with a bid of 4 No Trump!  I responded 5 clubs, showing one key card (the trump King being counted as a fifth Ace). This was all herself needed to jump to the heart slam.
     West led the club 10 and as I put my hand down as dummy I feverishly tried to think of excuses to justify my aggressive bidding. I could see in partner’s eyes that my hand was not the thing of beauty she was hoping for. However, she maintained her composure and proceeded to work out a plan.
     Given a normal 3-2 trump split she could count 1 spade, 5 hearts, 2 diamonds and 3 top clubs for a total of 11 tricks. But where was the 12th trick to come from? She could have attempted to bring the Queen and Jack of diamonds down in three rounds to establish the 10 but this seemed to be a very long shot so she turned her attention to the club suit. If the opponents’ holding in clubs was 3-3, then her fourth club would be the slam-going trick. But she knew that when the opponents held 6 cards in a suit, a 3-3 split only occurred about one-third of the time so she embarked on a series of plays that maximized her chances.
     Winning the opening club lead in hand with the Queen, she cashed the heart Ace and King, leaving the 10 in the dummy. She then cashed the club King followed by a small club to her Ace, as East discarded a diamond. Now her careful planning paid off as she could ruff her last club on the board with the heart 10 as West followed suit, return to her hand with the spade Ace, draw the last trump and claim 12 tricks.  Of course, if East and West had both followed to the third round of clubs, declarer would have drawn the outstanding trump right away as her fourth club would have been high.
     Naturally, when the hand was over I was quick to point out that it was my visionary bidding that had led to our getting a top board, as no other pair had reached the slam!
     Questions or comments: email: masson.ken@gmail.com