Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
One of the fascinating things about this game of bridge is that no matter how long we have been playing, new problems keep occurring to challenge our minds. This month’s deal is a perfect example where Herself and I had to improvise as we made our way throughout a choice of many bids to reach the optimum contract.
With the opponents silent throughout, the bidding began with a routine 15 to 17 High Card Point 1 NT by me followed by a 2 heart transfer response by Herself, showing at least 5 spades but with an unspecified number of points. I duly bid 2 spades and awaited further instructions from directly across the table. To my surprise Herself now bid a game forcing 3 clubs. I say surprise because the nature of duplicate bridge is that it rewards no-trump and major suit contracts with higher scores while the poor-relation minor suiters generally lag behind.
So why was Herself introducing a lower ranking suit into the proceedings? I could only surmise that her hand was distributional with 5+ spades, 4+ clubs and with at least a mild interest in slam. My hand had certainly improved greatly so without much hesitation I raised partner to 4 clubs.
Herself now placed her 4 diamond card on the table, a “cue bid” showing first round control of that suit, the ace or a void. I had nothing good to say about my hearts so I bid 4 spades hoping partner would read this as “Pick a slam.” Fortunately she did, so without further ado she advanced the bidding with a call of 6 clubs, giving me a choice of slams in either clubs, spades or no trump. After all, Herself belongs to the school that says: “Be an optimist in the bidding and a pessimist in the play.”
East led the heart ace followed by the king which declarer ruffed in hand. She now drew the opponents’ trumps which took three rounds and paused for reflection. If she could find the queen of spades, she would make her slam.
Herself now played a small spade toward the dummy and, with nothing else to guide her, went up with the ace. Voila – 12 tricks were ours. And why did declarer play for East to have the queen of spades? For no other reason other than West had already shown up with an ace and a king.
Herself and I will be looking out for similar opportunities in the future!
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.