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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

Bridge in Paradise Update 21 Jnauary, 2015

Here is a hand from the 2009 Gold Cup semifinal in Scotland, as reported by Andrew Robson. This was a team contest, using IMP scoring, so the important thing is to make your contract. Overtricks are of little importance. I found it instructive because it illustrates the value of keeping your options open when planning the play of a hand. South dealt and NS were vulnerable.

South opened with a weak two spade bid, which North raised to four. Imagine you are sitting South. At both tables, West led a club to dummy’s jack and East’s king, followed by a club continuation to dummy’s ace. Without looking at the EW hands, decide what you would play from dummy for the next trick.

At one table, declarer decided to pull trumps and started off by playing the ace and queen of spades. When neither trumps nor clubs split the contract was doomed, losing two clubs (the king and ten), a trump and the ace of diamonds. Poor splits seem rather likely in view of South’s distributional hand and thus the declarer at the second table decided on a more flexible plan, keeping open the possibility of running dummy’s long suit, hearts, or making the contract with a cross-ruff. He played the ace of hearts and ruffed a heart, noting the fall of the queen. This was followed by a trump to the ace and a third heart, ruffed low while East discarded a diamond. Next came declarer’s singleton diamond. West played the ace and led back another diamond. Dummy won the king and led a fourth heart, ruffed low since declarer knew West had to follow. Declarer had scored seven of the nine tricks played so far, and the last four cards in each hand were as below, with the lead in declarer’s hand.

East now has more trumps than declarer, but is helpless to stop declarer scoring three more tricks (and making the contract) with a cross-ruff. Declarer led a club and ruffed it on board, then led a diamond back to ruff with the nine of spades. Finally he scored the spade king. Flexibility won---a premature drawing of trumps would have restricted the options to only losing ones!
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

Imagine that you are sitting North, you deal and hold the hand below. North-South are vulnerable. What would you bid?

S: A
H: A54
D: AKQ10542
C: A8

Total high card points are 21, not quite enough to open the strong artificial 2C bid in most systems. On the other hand, you have ten tricks in hand---seven diamonds and the three outside aces. You might in principle lose a trick to the guarded jack of diamonds, but with only six diamonds out between the other three hands this possibility seems sufficiently improbable to ignore at this stage. Even if there is a guarded jack out there, it may be finesseable. With ten quick tricks and so many high card points, every system that I am aware of allows this to be opened 2C. Your partner has eleven high card points, so will certainly give you a positive response, whatever that is in the system you play. All you need to know now is whether your partner has three tricks, in any suit, to cover the only three losing cards in your hand. You can start by asking for aces by bidding 4N. Obviously this is a formality, since you already know you have all the aces, but it allows you then to ask for kings by bidding 5N. Your partner replies that he has two kings. Now, you can count at least twelve tricks, your ten plus partner’s two kings. You are playing duplicate for match points, so making the extra points from a no trump contract versus a suit contract may be critical. Now what do you bid?
The answer appears to be a choice between a guaranteed 6N---you know that you have twelve top tricks---or a slightly more risky 7N, thinking that your partner’s positive response to your opening 2C bid must surely include at least one useful queen to give you that thirteenth trick. So what did you choose, 6N, 7N or ?? The full deal is shown below:

As you can see, you have sixteen tricks available, seven diamonds, six hearts, the ace and king of clubs and the ace of spades, so a grand slam is a lay down. The strange aspect is what happened at the table. Of the six tables where this was played, there were four contracts of six diamonds, not even the lay down six no trump, and one contract of three no trump. The actual bidding on this wonderful hand seemed strangely timid!
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 Update 21 Jnauary, 2015

Bridge in Paradise