By Ken Masson
The bidding on this hand was short and sweet as North-South found their way to 3 no trump but declarer took his eye off the ball so to speak and failed to make a contract that was there for the taking. The deal was played at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club in Riberas.
North opened a standard 1 club as most players holding 3-3 in the minors do these days and South with a balanced 13 points and no 4 card or longer major jumped all the way to game. West held a fairly good spade suit and, with at least one entry in clubs available, led his fourth best spade, the 4. Declarer examined the dummy and saw that the spade holdings in dummy and his hand were tenuous at best so he decided to duck the first two tricks in the hope that that would somehow sever communications between the two defenders.
With this plan in mind, declarer won the third round of spades with the ace, crossed to a high heart in dummy and led the Diamond queen hoping for a finesse. With the Diamond king nicely positioned on side, South quickly ran 8 tricks consisting of one spade, 4 hearts and 3 diamonds but when he played a club to his king West won with the ace and cashed 2 more spades to put the contract down one.
Do you see where declarer went astray? It all has to do with East playing the queen of spades at trick one. Since it is most likely that West is leading from an honor (and in this case that would have to be the king) South can safely take the spade ace at trick one as the spade jack in the dummy would now be a second stopper and declarer could cash nine tricks before the defense could get 5!
Situations similar to these happen quite frequently at the bridge table. Recognising and implementing them in time can improve your scores.
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.