xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40"> Mountnessing Bridge Club

Mountnessing Bridge Club



Board 13: Only eight points?



Hand played on 

13th September 2007

Board number 13

Blue Section





Submitted by

Alaric Cundy

































































This hand was far from being accused of being "mundane and uninteresting"!  Several interesting points emerge.


Firstly, a look at the bidding.  East / West were playing the '5-card major' style, so East's 1 opening did not necessarily show a club suit.  Most people would overcall 1 on the South Hand, even when vulnerable, though the suit quality is a bit suspect.  North showed great vision by jumping to 4.  "But he only had 8 HCPs!" I hear someone say.  With a good trump fit and a shapely hand, relying solely on the HCP scheme of hand evaluation can lead to an under-estimation of the hand potential.  In such situations, the 'Loser Count' method can be useful, and this hand is at face-value a seven-loser hand - equivalent to a minimal one-level opening bid once the trump fit of at least 5-4 has been established.  True the hand may well rely on Declarer being able to make use of that long straggly diamond suit, and for that reason, a better quality side suit would have made the choice of 4 even more attractive.  West's double was quite understandable - clearly East / West held the majority of the high-card points, and West had what looked like a good opening lead in the shape of the singleton diamond.  


East made an error at trick one by playing the the King of diamonds over partner's ten - thus setting up the potential for Declarer to have no losers in the suit, courtesy of what was left as a fairly marked finesse.  Fearing a bad trump break, Declarer played a trump to the Ace, and was pleasantly surprised when the singleton King fell.  Declarer played a second trump to hand - leaving West with the Jack - and then tackled the heart suit, leading the queen from hand.  Often, with only Ace-doubleton in Dummy, it is best not to cover the Queen, but here it makes no difference, as you might tempt Declarer into a trap... It is tempting for Declarer now to cash two top hearts, discarding the club from Dummy, but to do so kills the entries to Dummy's diamond suit.  Instead, Declarer took the opportunity of being in Dummy to play the marked diamond finesse.  West does best to trump and take his side's club trick, but he declined the ruff.  Now Declarer could safely play the top two hearts, discarding the club loser, and Declarer finished up making a slam, on the combined 19 HCPs.


The overtricks didn't make any difference to the match-pointed score.  I cannot see any way that East / West can defeat this contract, though it can be held to 10 tricks.  If  East ducks the opening lead, the play will go a bit differently.  Declarer wins with the Queen, leaving East with a certain winner in the suit.  A trump to the Ace, and a trump back will again leave West with the winning Jack.  Now Declarer does best to play the diamond suit from hand, with West trumping the Ace of diamonds, and then playing two rounds of clubs.  Declarer ruffs in Dummy, and unblocks the diamond suit, losing the trick to East.  However, by now there are three established diamonds in Dummy, with the Ace of hearts available as an entry, so Declarer loses just the three tricks - one each in trumps, diamonds, and clubs.


An alternative defence would be to start with two rounds of clubs, forcing a ruff in Dummy at Trick 2.  That has the effect of taking an entry out from Dummy before Declarer would so choose, and now Declarer needs to be a bit careful, as there is a potential loser in each suit.  He / she should play a diamond to the queen, before playing the trumps as before, but in practice Declarer should still get home with ten tricks.


Elsewhere, one other North / South reached 4 undoubled, coming home with ten tricks,   At most other tables, East / West played the hand in 5 - a good score if undoubled, but not if it was, as it goes three off.   A few East / West pairs found their 4-4 heart fit, but that denomination also plays badly, even if Declarer finds a way of keeping the trump losers to two.  The best score for East / West came from conceding just 100 in 3.