Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
If it’s February, it must be time for the Annual Ajijic St. Valentine’s Bridge Tournament. This popular event attracts people from other parts of Mexico, the US and Canada as well as most of the local duplicate players.
As always, last year’s event featured many interesting hands, though painful may be a more apt adjective for the one in the diagram, at least as far as your humble scribe was concerned. Herself and I entered the fray optimistic as always and had some modest successes during the first three sessions we played. In the fourth session we struggled to keep our heads above water and by the time we reached the final round we had garnered 54% of the available points but were too far back to challenge for the title. Still, a good finish could get us into a respectable placing but then the deal above presented itself.
North dealt and began proceedings with bid of 1 club. Many players prefer to open 1 diamond with 4-4 in the minors as it allows them to rebid clubs over their partner’s major. However, 1 club is gaining popularity among players who like to guarantee 5 diamonds when they open diamonds and rebid clubs. It is really a matter of style and neither is right nor wrong, simply a personal preference.
Sitting East, I decided not to overcall with my anaemic heart suit, especially as our side was vulnerable. South bid one diamond which was passed back to North who raised her partner’s bid to the two level. Without further ado, South jumped all the way to 3 no trump. Sitting West, herself led the spade 10 which I perceived to be the top of a sequence of a long but weak suit as there wasn’t room in her hand for many points based on the bidding and the 11 points in my hand. After all, South could easily have 3 or 4 spades headed by the ace and king on the bidding. Declarer won in hand with the ace and led a diamond to dummy’s king and my ace.
Under the illusion that herself’s lead was from some number of lesser spades, I thought our best hope lay in finding the heart king with my partner so I switched to the heart four. Declarer rose with the ace, as herself followed with the 7, and declarer fired back a low club to dummy’s king and my ace.
Still obsessed with the notion that hearts would lead to our salvation, I led my 3 spot only to see declarer win the king and wrap up his contract with an overtrick: One spade, 2 hearts, 4 diamonds and 3 clubs for a near bottom board for us. If I had any inkling that declarer might have bid 3 no trump with a singleton ace I would have returned my spade jack (not the seven which would block the suit from running) we would have taken 8 tricks in all and put the contract down 4 tricks.
My partner was not amused. In fact, herself was beside herself. I spent the rest of the evening trying to explain my reasoning but to no avail. I’m still in the doghouse one year later!