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Tales of Akarana


What is “Total Diversity?” You learn a lot when you play an evening’s bridge and it is not all about how you can bid, play and defend any particular hand. There are some things which you know already. For instance, playing Swiss Pairs, when the opponents “right side" a contract, they are going to score well, no matter how well you do.

Board 3
South Deals
E-W Vul
9 8 7 6 5 3
J 8
Q 9 7 3 2
K 10 2
A J 10 9 6 4
7 5
6 4
W   E
K 8 7 5 2
A Q 4
K J 8 5
Q 3
K 10 9 6 3 2
A 10
West North East South
2  2  4  4 
Pass Pass 5  Dbl
All pass      


North’s 2Spade-small looked like it was intended to set up a sacrifice against a making 4Heart-small game though the reality was slightly different with 4Spade-small an interesting and makeable contract, as long as North is declarer. If South got to the wheel, a club lead will beat this contract, the Spade-small10 providing a second trump trick to go along with the Diamond-smallA and Club-smallK. (There is the little matter of West knowing they can reach partner’s hand in diamonds but not in hearts!)

However, played by North, 4Spade-small can be made, or can it? On a heart lead, declarer needs to draw trumps (or else that Spade-small10 will once again threaten) and take advantage of the favourable lie in diamonds. Playing clubs is not a good idea for North unless East plays the Club-smallJ on the first round.

So, with 4Spade-small a likely make, diving at the 5 level with over half the high card points, vulnerable against not, is actually a good idea. With South very happy to double, a correct club guess will see declarer escape for 1 down, - 200 and 6 imps out as far as the declaring side is concerned. Misguessing the club honours would be catastrophic!

There was even more damage to the “innocent” side on this next board when the opponents again chose the right player to be declarer:

Board 10
East Deals
Both Vul
A K 7 5 3
Q 8 6 5 3
9 7
8 6
A J 7 2
K 7 6 4
6 5 2
W   E
Q 4 2
A 10 9 5 3
Q 10 8 3
J 10 9
K 10 9
Q J 2
A K J 4
West North East South
    Pass 1 
Pass 1Heart-small1 Pass 1 NT
Pass 2Club-small2 Pass 2 Spade-small
Pass 4 Spade-small All pass  
  1. 4 plus spades
  2. checkback


The key to this board was either to be playing a strong no-trump opening, where North can transfer to spades or else as above, play transfer responses to 1Club-small so that South will either directly after the 1Heart-small initial response or as a response to check-back, get to bid the spade suit before their partner.

While, in theory, West can also beat 4Spade-small by leading the Heart-smallA, on many days, that lead would be a disaster. Where West did lead a diamond, the best chance for East-West is that East exit passively rather than switch to their singleton. East would get their ruff…but they have a natural spade trick anyway. Let’s say, after a club exit, South decided to take a losing spade finesse. Only then East should try for their ruff, successfully.

Where East is on lead to 4Spade-small and leads their singleton, West must play the Heart-smallJ to make it absolutely clear which suit to return. With the North hand hidden, East must under-lead their ace to score a second ruff. In practice, six of the eleven North-South pairs made their game. ..more imps out on datum for those who watched as South became declarer!

So, “twice” this night, we suffered from the opposition playing game from the right side….maybe more than twice but no more sad stories.cry Like all bridge players, we tend to remember only the unlucky boards! What then is “Total Diversity” and why did it happen this evening?

total diversity 2.png      total diversity 3.jpg

Total Diversity

Well, it did not …but it nearly did! An extract from a Bulletin at the recent US Nationals in Honolulu (why anyone would head that way with such wonderful weather in New Zealand, I cannot begin to imagine!) tells us that once a year you pick up a hand with just one card of each denomination i.e. an ace, a king etc down to a 2.

With that in mind, the West players on board 7 at Akarana must have been in awe of their hand…almost:

Spade-small Q632                     Heart-small K4               Diamond-smallJ75              Club-small AT83

It surely is the closest I have been to “Total Diversity” all year: something for everyone to now look for when they pick up a dull flat 10 count. I will have a reason to keep playing in 2019 looking for the perfect 10 count. “Tales of Akarana” will return in early February.

Richard Solomon


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