Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
They say that a good start is half the battle. Don’t tell that to this month’s West who made an excellent lead in the diagrammed hand played at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club, only for his side to come up short in the end.
South dealt and opened the bidding 1 No Trump showing a balanced hand with 15 to 17 high card points. The small doubleton in hearts is not considered a deterrent in this situation. West, who was planning to open 1 No Trump himself, passed in tempo as he had no convenient way of entering the auction.
Now North introduced a little toy he had recently discovered by bidding 3 hearts which purportedly showed 5-5 in the majors with invitational values. They say that bridge is a bidder’s game but to call this an invitation with threadbare values in the majors is stretching the definition just a tad.
However, as luck would have it, South had a maximum for his opener so he was happy to bid 4 spades knowing his side had a 5-3 fit in trumps. Now West had to find a suitable lead. Unwilling to lead from any of his honor holdings into a strong no trump opener, he finally settled on the 10 of spades.
This actually turned out to be a very good lead indeed as declarer won in hand to lead a heart towards the dummy in an attempt to set up some winners in that suit. West won the trick with the queen and fired back his remaining trump. South again won this in hand and led a second heart towards dummy. Declarer’s play so far virtually guaranteed that he only held 2 hearts so West ducked this to dummy’s jack and East’s king.
Now East paused to consider his options. It was apparent from his own holding and the cards in dummy that his partner held some considerable values. What if, he thought, West has the ace-queen of diamonds, it could be vital to switch to that suit while he was on lead for likely the only time on this deal. So without further ado, East led a low diamond.
Unfortunately for the defense this was just the break declarer was looking for. In short order, he won the diamond ace, cashed the club ace, ruffed a club in dummy, ruffed dummy’s last heart with his last spade, entered dummy again with another club ruff, drew the last trump, cashed two good hearts and conceded a diamond in the end – 4 spades bid and made.
Where did the defense go wrong? When East was in for the one and only time he should have returned his last trump, thus setting up an additional heart trick for his side and defeating the contract by one trick.
What if West did hold the ace-queen of diamonds and South the ace-king (and perhaps)-queen of clubs? Then declarer would certainly have played on clubs early on in order to rid the dummy of potential diamond losers before beginning his attack on hearts.
This was not an easy hand for East-West to defend accurately– but then no one ever said bridge was an easy game!