As we all know, bridge is a game of mistakes. The deals in this article show players making moves that in retrospect they would regret the next day.
Dealr East E/W Vul
Q 9 8 5 4
10 7 5 4
|A K 3
K 6 4
A K 7 6 3
|J 4 2
A Q J 9 5 2
K Q 2
|Q 10 9 8 5
A J 8 6
The first mistake came in the bidding: Where to begin? The 2NT call showed a game force with three or more hearts, the 4bid showed a minimum, 4NT was RKCB, and 5showed one or four keycards.
After the 1opening every call was at best questionable. To start with, the 2NT response conceals the hand’s main source of tricks, while wasting space. 2establishes a force and lets you raise hearts later. Do not play 2NT can be three or four trumps; have it guarantee four trumps – the difference between an eight and nine card fit is dramatic for playing strength.
Over 2NT East must be allowed to show shortage or first show a minimum then when asked show shortage. If your responses don’t let you do that – change the responses!
After the keycard ask, West had no idea what to do next. Motto: don’t use keycard if you can’t handle the response! Cue bid instead; then the auction 4-5-5-6would get you where you want to be.
Now let’s look at the play in 5. After the lead of the 10, how will you set about making 12 tricks, bearing in mind that when you want to ruff things, what suit don’t you play? The answer is trumps!
At the table East drew trumps in two rounds and when they split 2-2 she had 12 tricks, since the club ruff was easy to take. But what if South had three trump and the club ace? Then he can draw dummy’s last trump and prevent the club ruff.
Yes spades might be 6-1, but you can’t go through life guarding against obscure bad breaks while losing out to normal lies of the cards. So after the spade lead win the ace and play a club to the king. Then you can draw two rounds of trump and ruff a club in dummy before coming back to hand and drawing the last trump if necessary.
As you can see, that mistake didn’t matter. The next one cost blood.
Dealer North. E/W Vul
|A K 10 9 8 7 6
8 5 4
K J 10 7 3
10 9 7
J 10 7
K Q J 6 5 4 3 2
Q 9 3 2
|J 5 4 2
A 9 8 6 2
A K 6
I had watched Bruce Neill run into a very hostile distribution and go down in a normal game once already this afternoon. When I returned to the table for the last round of the event I thought I was not going to bring him bad luck again. I was wrong….up to a point.
Arjuna De Livera as South made a nicely judged call of 6here. The defenders led a top diamond and Neill ruffed, and no doubt when trumps were 2-0 with the pre-empter having the void he assumed there was at least a sporting chance that this hand would not have a side-singleton too! Wrong!
Neill drew trump and ducked a heart, won the club shift in dummy and cashed the A to get the bad news, then ruffed a heart, and ran the trumps.
How should East defend in the two card ending?
At the table West had carelessly held on to her diamonds and let go a club – a play that couldn’t possibly gain. But the last mistake was East’s. To solve these sorts of problems one needs a certain amount of empathy: put yourself in declarer’s shoes and ask yourself how you would have played the hand as declarer. Remember, declarer drew seven rounds of trump without trying to ruff a diamond. Does he have a diamond loser. Heck no! (Substitute another word if you so prefer).
So you can throw all your diamonds away at once, knowing declarer started life with a singleton. When East also pitched clubs to keep diamonds, declarer emerged with +980 and 191 matchpoints of a possible 196 instead of a mere 22.