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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Where is she?

Jan’s Day: a problem from a barrage bid.

No matter how good a player one is, one does not get all decisions right in the area of high-level bidding. Take a look at this:

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North Deals
Both Vul
A Q 9 7 4
A 9 5
8 3
A 10 3
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
K 8 3
K J 10 7 4 2
5
K Q 2
West North East South
  1  5  5 
Pass 6  All pass  

 

West leads Diamond-small7 which East wins with Diamond-small9. They continue with Diamond-small10. Plan the play.

Today’s deal was from the 1981 New Zealand Teams, before the days of the National Congress. The event was held in Wellington over Labour Weekend.

 jan cormack 2021  1.jpg 
Jan Cormack

Jan’s Day: A Troublesome Queen.

Lionel Wright’s Auckland team tied with the team of Bill Haughie, Alan Turner, Tony Taylor and Stanley Abrahams with 148 vps each. The two teams tied over 220 boards but also in their head-to-head match. Thus, Haughie’s team won the event because of a 43-42 imp result in their head-to-head match.

This deal from this event shows how a barrage bid can set the other side a real problem. In the hot seat was the bright young Christchurch international, Paul Marston.

After West’s Diamond-small7 lead, East took the first trick with Diamond-small9 and then played Diamond-small10. The declarer had to decide if the Diamond-small7 was a singleton and if so, who was more likely to hold the Heart-smallQ.

Would East have bid a vulnerable 5Diamond-small with just 8 diamonds and nothing outside or would he more likely have a 9-card suit? While West had 12 unknown cards, East had only 5 at most (non-diamond) cards.

The declarer favoured the odds of 12 to 5 that West held the Heart-smallQ and accordingly ruffed the diamond with the Heart-smallK and finessed West for the Heart-smallQ.

Unfortunately for the declarer, the fates were unkind as these were the opponents’ hands:

 
North Deals
Both Vul
A Q 9 7 4
A 9 5
8 3
A 10 3
J 10 6 5
8 6 3
7 4
J 9 8 7
 
N
W   E
S
 
2
Q
A K Q J 10 9 6 2
6 5 4
 
K 8 3
K J 10 7 4 2
5
K Q 2
West North East South
  1  5  5 
Pass 6  All pass  

 

Was the declarer’s line the best?”

It is hard to believe that a singleton queen would make the difference as to whether one jumps all the way to 5Diamond-small as compared with a more sedate jump to the 4-level. The recommendation for vulnerable pre-emptive jumps is that one should be within two tricks of one’s contract, which means that East took a huge risk on the above hand with 5 losers.

However, if the loss of 800 stopped the opponents from making a vulnerable slam, then perhaps the risk was worth it.

As you can see, there were two situations when playing the Heart-smallK would work out badly for South. Firstly, it is a losing play when East has doubleton Heart-smallQ but it also meant that declarer was unlikely to make their contract when East held the singleton Heart-smallQ either.

Ruffing lower meant South could still keep their options open when West did produce a second diamond and would be the right play when West had only one diamond but no Heart-smallQ.

Paul Marston has gone on to make many many right decisions in his bridge career in Australia. If he played the odds correctly this time, his decision proved unlucky.

For less experienced players and others: A routine game?


South Deals
Both Vul
Q 9 6 5 3
J 10 9
9 2
A 5 2
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
A
A K Q 7 3
K Q 7 5
9 6 3
West North East South
      1 
Pass 1  Pass 3 
Pass 4  All pass  

 

North’s 4Heart-small was a fast arrival sign off. South did just that. West led Club-smallQ. Plan the play. There are no bad breaks and trumps break 3-2.

Richard Solomon

 

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