Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
Duplicate bridge has seen many innovations in recent years as computer technology has added to our enjoyment of the game. One of my favourites has been the introduction of The Common Game where the same hands are played at many clubs at the same time across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Participating players can then have their results emailed to them, along with comparisons to the thousands of people who played at other sites. Another bonus is that some of the deals are then analyzed by experts which can be a great benefit for advancing players to see how they might have bid and played better.
Herself and I played the illustrated hand at one of the clubs we belong to in the Toronto area. I opened the bidding 1 diamond as I am sure every other South did (unless they were playing a strong club system such as Precision). Herself responded 1 spade and I now bid 3 clubs, a jump shift showing 19 to 21 points and forcing to game. Herself promptly raised my club bid to the four level (knowing I could not pass) after which I made a cue bid of 4 diamonds showing first round control in that suit. Now Herself made the all-important cue bid call of 4 hearts which was music to my ears and led me to place the contract in a small slam.
There was little to the play - this contract was virtually laydown losing only one spade trick and it wasn’t long before we were putting 1370 into our score cards. This turned out to be a top board among the 18 tables at the location where we played and was only achieved by 2% of the 3,000 declarers across North America which was definitely a surprise to us. In analyzing the deal later we came to the conclusion that most Souths must have bid 3 Hearts at their second turn and the clubs got lost in the shuffle! Now most North players would have bid 3 no trump which only made 10 tricks and a duplicate score of 630, a long way short of the available slam in clubs
I can sympathize with newer players bidding like this as it has been drilled into them that they should always try to find major suit fits but there were a sufficiently large number of experienced players who also managed to avoid bidding the humble clubs and thus a small slam went a begging. Of course I can’t say with certainty that the bidding went that way but it does seem most likely.
Even the Common Game expert who gave an overview of this hand got it wrong IMHO, as he also recommended the most popular sequence of South showing hearts at the second opportunity.
You will notice that if by chance Herself had held hearts instead of clubs she would have been able to bid them at her second turn without going past 3 no trump and we would have headed for a heart slam instead of clubs.
Column: Bridge by the Lake
Ken Masson has been playing, teaching and writing about bridge for more than 40 years. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Ken has been living in the Toronto area since 1967. He and his wife and bridge partner Rosemarie have been wintering in Lakeside since 2006. Even after all these years of playing they find bridge to be a constant challenge and enjoy sharing some of their triumphs and mishaps with Ojo readers in each column.