Thursday 12 February 2009

Robert Sheehan
Robert Sheehan

The term “bunker shot” is not exclusive to golf. When a bridge player is in a perilous position, he can sometimes extricate himself with a delicate manoeuvre.

Today’s deal saw Robert Sheehan play a bunker shot of which Ernie Els would have been proud, and as his opponent I had to applaud his technique.

Love all, dealer North.

Freak hands such as North’s do occur but advice on how to bid them is thin on the ground, and North chose to open with a game-forcing two clubs rather than a quiet one club. This auction ensued:

The obvious lead from the West hand is the “safe” Queen of spades that would have left Sheehan easy access to the three top tricks in his hand to go with dummy’s nine winners. After bidding such as this, though, it can often be a winning play to lead dummy’s long suit, so I chose Jack of clubs. Sheehan won in dummy and my partner contributed the seven. When Sheehan went into a profound study, I knew I had a good lead – declarer did not have the 6 of clubs to cross to his hand, nor the Jack of hearts because the play would be automatic if he did. Stuck in dummy, Sheehan would have to concede two heart tricks for one down.

Instead, declarer cashed dummy’s clubs, discarding various things from his hand, then he called for a low heart from the dummy and the defenders were fixed. Either of us could win the heart lead, but would have to return a spades or a diamond, giving declarer access to the winners in his hand, or a heart to the four winners in dummy. Out of the bunker and into the hole – no need even to putt.