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A Lighter Look

             Playing With “The Master”.

Have you ever had a game of Bridge with a “DealMaster”? You know who I mean, don’t you? His (oops, sorry, that may be giving away his real name, but there is something masculine about his name!) full name is “DealMaster Pro” and he is pretty hot in his analysis of every deal of bridge you play, assuming you get a machine to deal your hands for you.

Even when he seems to be wrong, he can prove that he is right although it might take mere mortals a week or five to work out how you can make a contract.

It does not happen very often but I had the privilege a few weeks ago to play with the great man himself. It did not even cost me a beer because he was somewhat under the weather at the time.

How wonderful it is to know that partner is right there on the same wavelength as you are: well, can see through the backs of my cards to produce wonderful leads and switches, bid suits I hold four or more cards in instead of most partners who glorify in bidding my void suit two or three times before the loud unequivocal penalty double card hits the table.

For just a few blissful seconds, the partnership harmony and gelling were just spot on. One day that will happen as we bid to a grand slam. Defending 1NT was not the most memorable moment of my bridge career. Better there than not at all!

I held as East:

Spade-small A72

Heart-small Q6

Diamond-small T753

Club-small QJT6

and vaguely listened to the opposition bid as follows:

            North                        South

                                                1Heart-small

            1Spade-small                              1NT

          Pass

1NT showed a weak no-trump hand with 5 hearts. Looking at my hand, there was no really bad lead that partner could conjure up, except perhaps a diamond lead away from an honour. So, there I was, mildly uninterested in the whole hand when I did notice that a black card had hit the table on partner’s side.      

         GREAT

LEAD.jpg

Further inspection revealed it as the Club-smallK, which in itself was not unremarkable but what did make me sit up a little straighter was the sight of the Club-smallA in dummy!

 

So, the first thing to do was to check the final contract. We must be defending a suit contract…2Heart-small or the like. No, everything pointed to 1NT as being the final contract.

Next I had to have a little look at the person (yes, there was a real person masquerading as “DealMaster Pro”) sitting opposite me. Did he also know which contract he was defending? Other than making a comment like “put the trumps on the left” to which declarer would reply “we are playing in no-trumps”, I could not find a way to focus partner on the real contract! (Please, that suggestion is not done in polite ethical games like cricket or bridge.) So, partner would just have to work it out for himself.

The play proceeded rapidly and very well for the defence.

South Deals
None Vul
K 6 5 3
5 3
Q 9 8
A 8 4 3
   
N
W   E
S
 
A 7 2
Q 6
10 5 4 3
Q J 10 6
West North East South
  DUMMY YOU  
      1 
Pass 1  Pass 1 NT
All pass      

 

Somewhat surprisingly South took the Club-smallK with dummy’s ace straightaway and played a heart to their 7 and our partner’s J. Back came a second club, a small one. Obviously, partner was hoping for a ruff!

No luck there, but no-one objected when I cashed three club winners. Declarer followed to two of them and then threw a diamond on the third. Our partner threw Diamond-small2 (low encourage) on the third club and a spade on the fourth. Suddenly, my meagre diamond holding took on far greater importance.

My Diamond-small2 went to declarer’s king and our partner’s ace. Back came Diamond-smallJ won by dummy’s queen. At this point, the defence had taken five tricks. It’s time to see all four hands.

South Deals
None Vul
K 6 5 3
5 3
Q 9 8
A 8 4 3
J 9 8 4
J 10 4 2
A J 2
K 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
A 7 2
Q 6
10 5 4 3
Q J 10 6
 
Q 10
A K 9 8 7
K 7 6
9 7 5
West North East South
      1 
Pass 1  Pass 1 NT
All pass      

 

Declarer called next for the Spade-small3 from dummy. I took my ace, my Diamond-small10 and the high Diamond-small3. 8 tricks to the defence for down 2. What a shame they were not vulnerable!

“So, why,” I asked at the end of the hand “did you find that unusual initial lead?” I got a muffled reply about not liking to lead away from jacks and not liking a diamond lead…which left just one suit left. “Stuck for a lead I was “he (or “ey”) said. 

“May you be “stuck” for a lead more often if that is the outcome “I thought. No need for the great “DealMaster. His “stand-in” was an admirable substitute!”

Eagle-eyed viewers will note that an initial heart lead is quite safe for the defence as long as at some point soon, they find a reason to switch to clubs. Both a spade and a diamond lead immediately give away tricks to declarer which leaves that wonderful but unusual Club-smallK.

Richard Solomon

 

   
   
   
   
       
       
       
       

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