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

Mountnessing Bridge Club



Board 13: A real battle ...



Hand played on 

10th January 2008 - The Mary Rogers Trophy

Board number 13

Red Section





Submitted by

Alaric Cundy































































It will probably come as no surprise to learn that this hand was played in a spade contract at 14 out of 15 tables.  The level of the contract ranged from 2 to 4, and the number of tricks made ranged from 7 to 10, so the results were 'all over the place', though a part-score making 9 tricks was the most common outcomeClearly this hand requires great care by both Declarer and the Defenders, and it offers a real battle of wits.


At our table East / West were not playing 5-card majors, but West's 2 bid looked better than the alternative option - pass.  North's 3 suggested a lead and showed tolerance for hearts.  Opposite a minimum response, East ended the auction with 3.


East appears to have five losers - a spade, a heart, a diamond, and two clubs, and there is also the possibility of a second diamond loser unless the third one can either be thrown on a club or trumped in Dummy.  On the other hand, in terms of potential winners, there are five trumps, two red aces and three clubs if the defence allows it - that's a total of ten tricks.


In practice, South dutifully led the Jack of diamonds, which was allowed to hold the trick.  The diamond continuation was taken by the Ace.  The top two trumps were cashed, and then a third diamond was played towards Dummy.  South discarded and allowed Dummy to ruff .  The Queen of clubs was played from table and it ran to South's Ace.  By now it was all over for the Defence as they were unable to take their heart trick, with Declarer eventually conceding two clubs, a trump, and a diamond.


The Defenders have two chances to do better.   It is not an obvious play, but North does best to cover the diamond at trick 1.  If East allows it to hold, then North can lead a heart, or if Declarer takes the trick a diamond entry will be established into the North hand to enable the heart switch, and that will simply delay Declarer's anguish.  It certainly does not look right, but North can also rescue the situation by covering the Queen of clubs - we can all see that the King would hold the trick, and again a heart switch would be deadly, giving the defence that all important trick in that suit.


Alternative opening leads do not look promising for North / South.  An initial spade or heart lead will give away a cheap trick, and the choice of the Ace of clubs at trick 1 will also virtually guarantee 9 tricks for Declarer.


One North / South gave themselves an interesting opportunity by bidding on to 4.  If either East or West can find a double, then South will be staring at the awful score of (at least) -200, but without the double if nine tricks can be made for -100 then North / South will score well against a string of making part-scores by East / West.


West may start the defence to 4 with a spade to partner's King.  If East returns a diamond, South has the entries to trump two spades in Dummy, and will lose just a spade, two trumps and a diamond.  If East returns a club, Declarer wins in hand and leads a spade and ruffs in Dummy, and then leads a diamond towards hand.  If East plays low, Declarer can again trump the last spade in Dummy, again conceding -100 in total; if East takes the Diamond then anything other than an immediate trump switch will inevitably allow Declarer to trump the last spade.  If East switches to a trump and Declarer guesses correctly the defence will take two spades, and two red Aces.  The Defence might think of sacrificing its second potential trump trick by starting with Ace, other trump - now of course no spades can be trumped in Dummy - but Declarer should be able to use the entries to Dummy with care to establish and enjoy a discard on a top diamond, losing in total two spades and two red Aces.  Supposing West ignores partner's suit and starts with the Queen of clubs.  That is won in Dummy and the spade is led, and the hand pans out as before, probably again leading to nine tricks.  In practice, it looks as though Declarer must have mis-guessed the trumps and failed to ruff spades in Dummy, as at the table the contract failed by two tricks, to give East / West an excellent score.