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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

This hand comes from the finals of the prestigious Vanderbilt knockout tournament played in 1997. The board is shown below with South the dealer and E-W vulnerable:

When this was played at the Vanderbilt, the bidding at table one was as follows:

The lead was the jack of clubs. This was an unfortunate lead for the defence (an initial trump lead followed by a trump as soon as the defence are in again is a more successful defence). Declarer can take a second club lead with the king and then trump a low club on board (over ruffing North if necessary). Declarer returns to hand with the ace of hearts and leads another low club to ruff on board. Now, a trump lead from dummy to the jack wins and the ace of trumps then fells the king. Declarer lost only the aces of clubs and diamonds. The contract made a doubled vulnerable overtrick for +990 for E-W. It is clear that North looked at his four points, added them to his partner’s blockbuster, and was too optimistic in counting his chickens. E-W have only 15 high card points but are cold for eleven tricks after the club lead.
At the second table in the Vanderbilt, the bidding was a bit different, but the final contract was the same, 4S doubled. Only ten tricks were made this time, but still a big score for E-W +790.

When this was played in my local club, the bidding was as follows:

The final contract was 5 diamonds doubled by North. The lead was the queen of spades and the defence took two spades, the ace of hearts and the king of clubs for down two and +300 for E-W. Still a positive score for E-W, but a much better result for N-S than at either table at the Vanderbilt. Good judgment by N-S here in finding the diamond fit and pushing on to the five level!
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 website

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Bridge in Paradise