Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
One of the first lessons we all learned at bridge was to plan the play of the hand before calling for a card from dummy. South didn’t do all his planning early enough in this hand played in a team game at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club in Riberas and thereby failed in a slam contract he could have made.
Holding a strong but slightly unbalanced 20 points North began proceedings with a bid of 1 club and South responded 1 spade. Now North made a “reverse” bid of 2 hearts showing a 4 card suit with longer clubs and 17 to 21points. With diamonds well stopped and an opening hand of his own South jumped to 3 no trump and North, with his extra values, took his partner all the way to slam. The bidding was aggressive but with 32 combined high card points and five card suits in each hand the contract was reasonable.
West led the club 3 and South counted his sure tricks – 1 spade, 4 hearts, 3 diamonds and 1 club for 9 tricks. It looked like West may have underled the club king, and South could see that he would need the club finesse to work to have any chance, so he added 1 more trick to his mental pile.
One possibility was to play West for the KJ103 of clubs and let the opening lead come around to his 9 but that was unlikely to succeed as most players with that holding would lead the jack. By the process of elimination declarer determined that spades were the most promising source of the extra tricks he needed. He figured that he could come to his hand, play a spade to the jack and if that held he could cash the ace, get back to his hand and, if the king hasn’t dropped doubleton, play another spade and hope that the suit was divided 3-3 among the opponents and therefore the queen would set up as his 12th trick.
Satisfied that he was on the right track South began his quest by calling for the club queen from dummy and was relieved to find that it held the trick. Next he led the heart 2 from the dummy to his ace and played the spade 3 to dummy’s jack and was delighted to have it win the trick – things were going right on plan. He now cashed the spade ace and the king failed to drop but to his horror he discovered he only had one entry left back to his hand where he desperately needed two.
Then, too late, he saw the error of his ways: he should have played the heart two to the 10 in his hand to take the spade finesse. Then he would have had one more heart entry to set up a spade winner and finally a diamond entry to cash the slam-making queen!
The success of the hand depended on declarer’s early recognition of the fact that he held all five of the top hearts and he could use them in whichever manner suited him. Playing the 2 to the ace was his undoing.
My thanks to Stephen Segall for providing me with the material for this valuable lesson in entry preservation.