Bridge by the Lake

By Ken Masson


whats-the-dealAdvancing players are always seeking fresh ways of improving their bridge knowledge. One of the newest and best sources is the Internet where countless bridge sites offer everything from every convention ever invented to real-time coverage of tournaments from around the world. Among the best of these sites is Bridge Base Online.

Watching tournament play on BBO is an enjoyable and educational experience as famous players show their stuff, often for the benefit of thousands of spectators at a time, and with expert commentators to explain bids and plays that might be unfamiliar to the viewers. While most of the time we are treated to clever bidding, great declarer play and excellent defence, occasionally a hand will emerge that befuddles even the best of players, much to the delight of their cyber-audience.

Such was the deal in this month’s diagram played at a tournament in England. East dealt and began proceedings with a bid of 1 diamond, intending to show his 5 spades by bidding that suit twice later on. Little did he know what was to transpire as the bidding progressed. South decided to mix things up a bit by making a pre-emptive jump overcall, despite the adverse vulnerability and West showed at least a five-card heart suit and good values.

North now raised the ante a tad by supporting his partner’s suit at the 4 level and East was faced with his first dilemma. He realized that the contract could possibly be played in any of 3 suits (spades, hearts or diamonds) with the level to be determined by his partner’s exact holding. He wanted to bid 4 spades but was afraid that that might not be considered forcing by West. After considerable thought he emerged with a bid of 5 no trump which the analysts concluded meant: “pick a slam.”

When the bidding returned to West, he must have sensed that his partner had fairly even distribution (outside the club suit) and as he, West, had substantial extra values not yet shown, a Grand Slam must be in the offing so he bid 7 clubs, returning the decision to East. Now all would have been well if East had simply chosen either of his long suits but for some reason he got it into his head that West held a very good heart suit and believed his jack and nine holding would complement it nicely. After two passes, the auction returned to North who was staring at an almost certain heart winner and couldn’t resist the temptation of doubling.

East now felt that he hadn’t picked the best suit for his side and introduced spades for the first time at the seven level, which would have produced a wonderful result for his side! However, understandably, West couldn’t visualize East’s actual hand and believed that surely his partner held the ace of clubs for this bidding and so bid 7 no trump! South was very happy to double, lead the club ace and continue the suit producing the first seven tricks for his side for 1,700 points!

I’m sure that East and West have had a number of heated conversations on this hand in the intervening months!

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