Bridge By The Lake

By Ken Masson


whats-the-dealNorinne and Dick Nelson have long been one of the best partnerships in Mexico. When you play against them you always know you will have a stiff fight on your hands and if ever you can share the spoils with them you will feel fortunate.

This month’s hand was dealt at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club where herself and I, sitting North and South respectively, faced the Nelsons. Dick passed in first seat and I opened the bidding with 1 spade. Norinne passed and herself made the invitational bid of 3 spades showing about 10 to 12 dummy points and at least 4 spades. With 15 high card points and extra length in the trump suit I was pleased to carry on to game.

Norinne led the club Jack and at first glance when I saw the dummy with plenty of honor cards it looked like I should have a good chance of making the contract. At second glance, however, I saw that there was a distinct lack of entries to dummy. As I had to win the opening lead in my hand I had no convenient way to dummy to take either the spade or the heart finesse. The diamond ace might have been with West, but I was unwilling to risk the contract on the location of one specific card.

After some thought, I decided on my course of action. I played the trump ace from my hand – this could be a success in either of two ways: the king could be singleton in either of the opponent’s hands or, failing that, Dick could hold the spade king and when he won it he would not be able to attack diamonds profitably from his side of the table.

Neither of these scenarios panned out for our side. After the spade king failed to fall under my ace I had no real choice but to lead another trump and hope. But when Norinne won with the trump king, Dick made the expert play of the heart 10, which in their defensive system showed no interest in that suit. Now Norinne concluded that diamonds was their sole hope of defeating the contract so she made an expert play of her own – the diamond queen! And what a killer that card turned out to be. The “normal” lead from her holding would be a low diamond but that would not have worked here as Dick would have had to win with the jack or ten and there would have been no way for the defenders to cash more than 3 tricks before I had my 10.

I was totally stymied! If I covered with the king Dick would then cash his jack and ten so I decided to duck in the hope that East had only 2 diamonds or that the suit would block. Alas (have you noticed how often the word “alas” appears in my columns when I am describing a hand I played?) it was not to be and there was no way I could prevent the defense from taking 4 tricks.

The admirable Nelsons were well named for it was in this battle against them that I met my Waterloo!

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