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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

When I read about this hand (reported by Andrew Robson) it struck me as an example of good defence—nothing spectacular, just good solid partnership play to take advantage of declarer’s stumble. The hand occurred four boards from the end of a long match. But this was not just any match—it was the final of the Women’s Bridge World Championship held in Beijing a few years ago. The English team was playing the Chinese team. The overall match was eventually won by a margin of just one IMP—the equivalent of a single overtrick. This board was worth five IMPs to the eventual winners, so it turned out to be critical to the championship.

Dealer: South, all vulnerable
  S: A94  
  H: Q10  
  D: 862  
  C: QJ974  
S: 10832   S: Q765
H: 83   H: AJ4
D: A975   D: 43
C: K32   C: A1086
  S: KJ  
  H: K97652  
  D: KQJ10  
  C: 5  

At the table where the English team sat NS, they bid 2H and made 3H, for an overtrick. Now watch what happened at the table where the Chinese team were sitting NS. The bidding is shown below. The Chinese South made a try for game by bidding 3H. North declined the invitation and 3H was the eventual contract.
South West North East
1H P 1N P
2D P 2H P
3H All pass    

West led the two of spades. Dummy played low and declarer beat East’s queen with the king. Now, declarer led a low trump. If she had put in dummy’s queen, she would have made the contract. However, she played the ten and East won the jack. It still looks like declarer only has four losers, two trump tricks, the ace of diamonds and one club (since she only has a singleton club) and therefore she will make the contract. So can you see how the defence could score the critical fifth trick to get the contract down? The English pair at the table did.
East switched to the four of diamonds. West won the ace and returned the diamond five—her lowest card, asking for a club lead. Declarer won and led a second trump to the queen and East’s ace. Now East, trusting her partner, made the key play. She underled her ace of clubs. West won the king and led a third diamond. East ruffed, taking the contract down one and showing the power of good communications in effective defence. Four hands later, the English team were holding the gold medal.
I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands—please do contact me at [email protected] Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes all players. We have members from seventeen different countries already. For information on the Club go to the web site

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Bridge in Paradise