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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

 

A Slim Chance?

We left you on Friday with a play problem with South the declarer in 6D. You might have wondered how South got to be declarer and so the sequence is included below.

Some who play transfer responses to 1C open 1C with all balanced hands in the 11-19 hcp range outside the range for 1NT opening. That is what happened below. 2Club-small was game force agreeing clubs and 2Heart-small was less than 4 clubs and naturalish (maybe not a 4-card suit). The diamond bids were both natural and key-card followed.

West Deals
None Vul

A 9

A Q 10 5

J 10 9 8

K 8 3

   

N

W

 

E

S

   
 

K

9 2

A Q 7 6 5

A 9 7 6 5

 

West

North

East

South

Pass

1 ♣

Pass

2 ♣

Pass

2 

Pass

3 

Pass

4 

Pass

4 NT

Pass

5 

Pass

6 

All pass

 

 

 

 

6  by South

You reach 6Diamond-small which is a very reasonable contract if the diamond finesse works. There is no interference bidding. West leads Spade-small4 to your king. You play a club to the king with the opponents contributing Club-small4 and Club-small2 and run Diamond-smallJ in hope.

Hope dashed as West wins their king and plays a second spade. Are you now doomed to a minus score? What to do?

Well, you do not panic. Is there still a chance of making your slam or are you in damage control?! What is certain is that you cannot make on top tricks as you are missing 3 clubs, QJT, and they will not all fall in the same trick.

When you are in a “doomed” contract, the difference between one and two down may not be that much. While the 28-hcp combined 6Diamond-small was looking like a good contract for a short while, it was not going to be that common a spot. Anyone in 3NT or 5Diamond-small were going to make a plus score though had the diamond finesse worked, they would have wished to be in 6Diamond-small too. Even at Pairs, the difference between one and two down in 6Diamond-small would not be that significant….or to put it another way, what was your discard on the second round of spades?

Michael Cornell has been in a lot of very good slams in his bridge career but it looked like he was recording -50 in this one. He invested another -50 and came out with +920!

Sure, he had to be lucky but he seized his opportunity! On the second round of spades, rather than discard his potential heart loser, he threw a club.

West Deals
None Vul

A 9

A Q 10 5

J 10 9 8

K 8 3

Q 8 5 4

K J 6 4

K 3

J 10 2

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

J 10 7 6 3 2

8 7 3

4 2

Q 4

 

K

9 2

A Q 7 6 5

A 9 7 6 5

 

West

North

East

South

Pass

1 ♣

Pass

2 ♣

Pass

2 

Pass

3 

Pass

4 

Pass

4 NT

Pass

5 

Pass

6 

All pass

 

 

 

 

6  by South

We will return to the layout he needed shortly. He played to make his slam and that is what happened.

Michael played a second round of trumps and then a third round to his Diamond-smallQ. The spotlight was soon to fall on West. On the third round of trumps, West had an easy spade discard. Nest came Heart-small9 which West covered with Heart-smallJ and Heart-smallQ won the trick. A fourth round of diamonds saw West throw their remaining spade but Michael played a fifth round.

As you can see, the club discard would prove fatal though so too would a small heart. When West did discard a small heart, Michael could take a second heart finesse and play Heart-smallA…and tumbling down came Heart-smallK with Heart-small5 being Michael’s extra 12th trick.

Michael needed not just both heart honours with West but West needed to have the four- card heart suit as well or else there would have been no squeeze. That’s pretty slim odds but was there a better way?

Full marks, then, if you discarded a club on the Spade-smallK. We will assume you played the board as described above. If not, just another -50 and a slam you wish you had not bid.

 wrong lead.jpg

Wrong lead!

Oh, and West would have wished that their initial lead had been a low heart instead of a spade as then it would be utterly bizarre for a declarer to insert Heart-small10 and play as above when they could discard the potential heart loser on the Spade-smallK and rely on the diamond finesse. West would thus have needed to find a more aggressive opening lead or choose to play the board against a different opponent than Michael Cornell.  

Misdefence

For once, you can sit and be judge and jury rather than be the perpetrator! Four top tricks were not taken against a major suit game. Why not? Which action was most to blame?

East Deals
None Vul

J 2

5

10 8 4 2

A 9 8 7 6 3

Q 10 6 5

Q J 9 8 4

A J

K 5

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

9 8 3

K 10 3 2

K Q 9 6 5

2

 

A K 7 4

A 7 6

7 3

Q J 10 4

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

Pass

1 ♣

2 NT

3 ♣

4 

All pass

Four tricks for the defence to take, maybe more but they only

1Club-small promised at least 3 clubs. 2NT showed the majors, at least four spades and at least five hearts.  

South led Diamond-small7 with Diamond-smallA winning and North discouraging diamonds. Declarer led a heart to the king and ace. South played Spade-smallK for count and North showed an even number with Spade-small2. Then came Club-smallQ scoring and a second club. Curtains! Diamonds were unravelled and West’s three remaining spades disappeared on three rounds of diamonds once trumps had been drawn. Contract making.

Which defender’s action was most to blame?

Richard Solomon

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