BRIDGE BY THE LAKE
By Ken Masson
I had a bridge dream the other night. I dreamt that herself and myself were playing against Rick Williams and John Fraser at the Lakeside Bridge Center when this remarkable deal presented itself. Herself, sitting North opened a slightly weak, vulnerable 1 Diamond. Rick, sitting East, made a 1 Spade overcall and I bid 2 Hearts. John passed and herself bid 2 Hearts, knowing that I had at least five cards in that suit.
Rick passed and, not having a clue how to bid this hand scientifically, I jumped to what I hoped was a confident-sounding 6 Hearts which ended the auction. I noticed a slightly panicked look in herself’s eyes as she laid down her under-nourished dummy. John’s lead of the Club 7, together with dummy’s 4 spades, made it plain that the West hand was void in Spades. It was also clear that if the Heart and Diamond suits split reasonably evenly, I would have a good shot at making my contract. However, since West, North and South all had voids, that wasn’t too likely.
Nonetheless, I didn’t have much option but to plow ahead and hope for the best. I began by ruffing the opening lead in dummy and leading the Diamond King. The bidding made it probable that East held the Diamond Ace, and so it transpired as Rick played that card on the King. I ruffed with the Heart 8 and laid down the Heart Ace. Now it was East’s turn to show a void so I ruffed a low Club with dummy’s last Heart and started to play Diamonds, pitching firstly a Club and then a Spade from my hand. West ruffed the third Diamond and exited with a low club, won in hand with the Ace.
Now it was a simple matter to cash my remaining winners and claim 12 tricks – 1 Club, two Club ruffs, 2 Diamonds, 5 Hearts and 2 Spades. The reward: 1430 points for the vulnerable slam, bid and made, a top board for some inspired bidding and cool play.
But just then I awoke in a cold sweat – this had not been just a dream, it was a replay of a hand I had played the previous day and the end result had not been so pretty in real life. The first few tricks were the same as in my dream but I failed to count how the Diamonds were divided as I played that suit. I assumed that they were all good after the Ace had been found and disposed of, but to my horror Rick produced the 9 on my 8 in the end-game and as I had no trumps left I had to humbly accept a devastating defeat.
However, bridge is a partnership game and we must share the bad times as well as the good, so I let herself know that she must share the blame for opening such a weak hand! But if the truth really be known, I also would have opened 1 Diamond with her hand.
Despite my fumbling of the play, it really was a once-in-a-lifetime deal: never before can I remember all four players at the table each having a void in a different suit.