Bridge, like life, is a game of give and take. Today’s deal provides a graphic illustration of the concept.

Dealer East. N/S Vul

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

Opening lead: J

South was dead minimum (we would say sub-minimum) for her reverse rebid of 2. Because a reverse is forcing for one round and drives responder to the three-level to show simple preference for opener’s first-bid suit, opener must have a strong hand.

Beverly Kraft & Eric Kokish
Beverly Kraft & Eric Kokish

Opener has 17 points, but it is not clear that either of the major-suit queens will have any real value. 3NT would have been a ridiculous contract, but North, whose slender assets were oriented toward suit play, removed to 5.

5was no thing of beauty either. A heart lead and continuation would have scuttled it immediately, but West, not unreasonably, led a trump. Declarer won and led the K, ruffing away West’s ace.

A second trump to hand extracted the remaining lurkers, and dummy’s heart losers disappeared on the queen-jack of clubs. A promising start for declarer, who continued with the Q.

Had West taken the A, declarer would have made the contract easily. Declarer ruffs a heart in dummy, plays the 10 to West’s jack, discarding a loser. Dummy’s spades are now established and a second heart ruff provides the entry to the suit.

But West withheld the A.

Declarer, who was now in a position to lose no spades at all, saw that the key to the hand was to lose not one but two spade tricks. How odd! Declarer overtook the Q with dummy’s king and continued with the 10, discarding a heart. West won the J and led a heart, but declarer ruffed with dummy’s penultimate trump and passed the 9, discarding another heart. West won the A but dummy still had a trump entry to reach the three spade winners.

“Try to make 5without the overtaking play and double “loser-on-loser” play in the spade suit. Send us a postcard when you do.”