Source: london evening standard  Friday December 19, 2014

How does bridge today compare with bridge 50 years ago?

David Bird
David Bird

The general consensus if that the top players at that time were comparable with today’s so far as their dummy play went. The standard of bidding was nowhere near so good. See if you can match the excellent dummy play of the USA’s Norman Kay back in 1964.

Dealer North. None Vul

10 6 2
K 8
A K 8 5 4
K 8 4
9 3
J 9 6 5 3 2
Q J 9
9 7
7 4
A Q
10 6
A Q J 10 6 3 2
A K Q J 8 5
10 7 4
7 3 2
5
West North East South
1 3 3
Pass 4 Pass Pass
Pass

You have to play 4on a lead of the 9.

It is essential to cover the nine with dummy’s king. Otherwise West can be left on lead for a heart switch. East wins with the ace and continues with the queen of clubs.

What is your plan? East’s overcall was an intermediate one, so Kay expected him to hold the ace of hearts. His objective was to set up dummy’s diamond suit for two heart discards. This had to be done without allowing West on lead for a heart switch. Ducking a diamond, or playing three rounds from the top, would allow West to gain the lead. Kay tried something different.

At Trick 2 he discarded a diamond from his hand instead of ruffing. He ruffed the club continuation high and drew trumps in two rounds. He then played the ace and king of diamonds, both defenders following. A diamond ruff established the suit. Kay then re-entered dummy with a trump to the ten to discard two of his three hearts on the established cards in diamonds.

It was a clever example of what is known as ‘avoidance play’ He set up the diamonds while avoiding the dangerous West hand.