Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson

     As a bridge teacher, I always like to perform well at the table against people who have taken my classes. It is always gratifying when you can show by example good declarer play or defense.
     Such was my desire when herself and myself played this hand against Ted and Gail Ruddy in a team-of-four game recently at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club.  Our team was neck and neck with the Ruddys going into the last round and a good win for either side would likely result in a high placing, if not an outright win.
     Gail opened the bidding 1 diamond and Ted bid 3 diamonds which, in their system, was forcing.  Gail had a difficult decision but solved it with a reasonable, if slightly speculative, 3 NT as she didn’t have a full heart stopper. 
     Now the spotlight shifted to yours truly, the teacher, who had to find the killing lead.
     The bidding was not particularly revealing—all I knew was the opponents had a big diamond fit.  Looking at my paltry holding in high cards and the fact that no attempt to reach slam was made, it was reasonable to assume that my partner held values.
     But where? That was the question. All the bridge books on defense advise that when you believe your partner has the bulk of your combined strength, you should try to find her long suit rather than leading yours. 
     Logical though that may be, I couldn’t bear the thought of partner hold the spade AXX (and another entry) and declarer the spade KX, so I ended up leading a very pedestrian and costly 5 of spades.
     This quickly solved any problem in the play that declarer might have had as she could now count 9 top tricks: 5 diamonds, 3 spades and one club. Not only had I not found the best suit to lead, I found what was decidedly the worst!  With any other lead—a heart, a diamond or a club, declarer could not have come to 9 tricks before we came to 5.
     Not only did I not set a good example in front of one set of students, I had to explain to our teammates, Bill and Jinny Hunter, also in my bridge class, why I didn’t find the killing lead!
     As a result of this, the Ruddys, along with Ann Szarka and Maggie Cordingley, finished a very creditable third overall out of 24 teams.
     Team Masson, ahem, did not figure in the overalls.
     Questions or comments: email: masson.ken@gmail.com