Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
Have you heard the rumor that is circulating among American-based bridge players these days? Apparently, with the inauguration of the new President of the United States, only suit contracts will be permitted; No-Trump bids will be illegal!
Be that as it may, I could have saved myself some embarrassment if I had been forbidden from bidding the no trump game in this month’s hand which I misplayed at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club in Riberas.
West dealt and opened the bidding with 1 diamond. Although traditionally at least 13 high card points are required to start the bidding, more and more players are shaving a point or two off their holdings in an effort to get in the first bid and I suspect that most players these days would follow West’s example.
Sitting North, Herself had 10 points but no long suit so she passed, as did East. When the auction came around to me I had to find a bid that adequately described my balanced 18 high card points. If I had been in second seat I would have ventured 1 no trump but it is a generally accepted principle that in the passout (or balancing) seat a call of 1 no trump shows about 12 to 15 HCPs, so I was forced to make a takeout double.
West passed and Herself now bid 2 spades, showing around 8 to 11 HCPs, leaving me with a simple jump to 3 no trump.
West led a low heart and I took time out to count my winners and consider my options. I could see five sure tricks in the form of the ace of spades and the ace and king of both hearts and clubs; to make my contract I would have to establish four more tricks through a combination of finesses and promotions. With a total of 28 high card points between my hand and dummy’s, the task did not appear to be too daunting.
I won the first trick in my hand with a high heart and laid down the spade jack on which West played the king (cover an honour with an honour) and dummy the ace. I now turned my attention to the diamond suit by playing the five from the dummy to my queen and West’s ace and that player continued the attack on my heart suit by leading the queen.
A quick assessment showed that I was now up to eight tricks and the ninth would have to come from the club suit. As I held a total of eight clubs, with all the top cards except the queen, the correct theoretical play is to finesse against East for her majesty (eight ever, nine never). So I crossed to the spade queen, called for the club jack and let it ride when East played low. To my horror West won the trick and I could no longer make my contract.
In the post-mortem, Herself pointed out that West needed the club queen in order to open the bidding and therefore it would have to be a doubleton or singleton if I was to make my contract.
Now why didn’t I think of that?
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.