Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
Duplicate bridge players know that garnering 60% of the available match points is usually a very good score and will often win. 65% –70% scores happen with much less frequency and almost guarantee a win. Once in a blue moon a pair will attain slightly higher percentages but in 40 years of playing this game I have never come across a score as high as Alex Chartier and Nick Horbatch achieved at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club in Riberas this March.
To say they could do no wrong that day would only be a small exaggeration as contract after contract of theirs succeeded while their opponents consistently failed in their efforts. Of the 27 hands they played that day, Alex and Nick had 9 solo tops and 6 ties for tops. Most of their other scores were better than average and helped them to the unbelievable final tally of 81.22%!
When I spoke to Alex about this game the next day he maintained that they just played steadily and took advantage of any slips by the opposition. Alex gave me the diagrammed deal where a combination of aggressive bidding and less than stellar defence gave them one of their many tops on the day.
North dealt and passed and East, with 12 high card points, also chose to pass. Alex opened the bidding 1 heart, a call that was light even by today’s reduced requirements for third-seat openings but he sensed that the Great Shuffler was smiling benevolently on him, so why not?
Even though West held 14 high card points, he felt that his hand was too flat to make a take-out double so he passed and Nick responded 1 spade. East passed and Alex made his second ultra-aggressive call on the hand by rebidding 1 no trump, a call that usually shows a full opening bid! This was quickly followed by three passes and Alex found himself in the precarious position of having to play 1 no trump with a grand total of 14 high card points between his hand and dummy’s.
West made the passive lead of the spade 7 which was allowed to run to declarer’s jack. South now played a heart to dummy’s 10 and returned the 9 which was taken by West’s ace. West now switched to the diamond ace on which East played an encouraging 2 (upside down attitude) but when West continued with a low diamond East, unsure as to the location of the king, played the 9 allowing Alex to win in hand with the jack!
Alex now ran the four remaining hearts before playing a club to dummy’s club ace. He had actually made an overtrick for a score of 120 on a hand where East-West could have made game!
It’s easy to be critical of the defenders at Alex’s and Nick’s table but we have all been in similar situations at one time or another. When both East and West decided to pass throughout they were going to find it very difficult to estimate how many points each other held when defending.
But kudos to Alex and Nick for finding the right time and place to take a risk and then coolly reaping the rewards.