Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
Was Rudyard Kipling a bridge player? There is no evidence that he was but his immortal words: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs” came to my mind while playing the diagrammed hand in a match-point duplicate game.
East dealt and opened the proceedings with a bid of 1 diamond, I passed and West bid 1 no trump. At this point my partner (not Herself!) interjected with a frisky takeout double showing at least a tolerance for the 3 unbid suits. Now, while I am a great believer in getting into the bidding whenever feasible, I must confess that it would not have occurred to me to enter the fray here with just 8 high card points, especially when we were vulnerable and the opponents were not!
East, who had been planning on raising her partner to the no trump game, now saw the possibility of more substantial rewards and promptly redoubled to show her powerful holding. While this bid in theory negated an obligation on me to bid, it so happened that I only had four cards in one of partner’s advertised assortment so I really had no choice but to bid 2 clubs. I thought I detected a slight smile on West’s countenance as he lowered the boom with a penalty double to close the bidding.
West led the jack of hearts and I tried to sound upbeat as I thanked partner when she displayed her wares for all to see. I could see the likelihood of losing 3 spades, 2 hearts, 1 diamond and 2 clubs which would give the opponents 800 points and us a guaranteed zero in matchpoints.
However, I had no option but to stay as confident as Kipling so I called for the queen of hearts from the dummy and this was covered by the king. East now continued with the heart ace and a third round of the suit. Although I could have ruffed this card it was patently obvious that West would over-ruff so instead I pitched a spade as West won the trick with a low trump.
West now continued with a low spade and when I called for the 3 from dummy. East erred by putting up the ace for the defence’s fourth trick, fearing I now held a singleton queen. She now returned her last heart on which I pitched a diamond and West won with a trump to cash the diamond queen and continue with the jack.
At this point I had lost the first 6 tricks but was suddenly in control. I ruffed the diamond in the dummy, played a club to my hand and another back to dummy drawing all the enemy trumps, cashed the long heart and the spade king and still had two good trumps in my hand for a total of 7 tricks. Down 1 doubled was 200 away and close to a top on the board as nearly all the other East-Wests had made at least 400 points in no-trump contracts.
So the next time you find yourself in a bind at the bridge table try to look confident as you say to yourself: “If I can keep my head …”