Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
Active or passive? That is the question players must frequently ask themselves when planning to defend a bridge deal. Sometimes it is necessary to take risks to garner the optimum number of tricks for your side, while on other occasions it is best to play safely and hope declarer can’t find his or her way home.
I did not take the right approach in the illustrated hand which Herself and I played against Grace Donovan and Helen Malcolm at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club in Riberas. In first seat, Herself opened 2 diamonds showing a six card suit and between six and ten high card points. Grace overcalled 2 spades and I raised my partner’s suit to the 3 level. (Raising partner’s weak 2 opening is never invitational – it is merely an attempt to interfere with the opposition bidding.)
Helen now took an aggressive step by jump raising spades to the game level with her flat 10 high card points and three card spade support. Perhaps she foresaw that I would misdefend! I led the diamond ace and when I saw the dummy it seemed to me that our side likely held about half the high card points and a passive defence was called for. Therefore I continued with the diamond queen forcing declarer to ruff. Grace now drew 3 rounds of trumps ending in the dummy and led a small club to her 10 and my jack.
Once more I forced declarer to ruff in her hand reducing her trump holding to just one but this did not faze Grace in the slightest as she continued with her plan by leading the club 7 and ducking the trick to Herself’s queen. Yet another diamond was now led by East but Grace was completely in charge as she ruffed the trick with her last trump and led a club to dummy’s ace. With this suit breaking 3-3 she now had her 10th trick and scored up her game by taking 6 spades, 2 hearts and 2 clubs.
While this deal was a triumph for Grace and Helen, I was left to ponder where the defence had gone wrong. It soon became apparent that my passive play had had the opposite effect to what I intended.
Let’s go back to trick 1. My lead of the diamond ace to look at the dummy was sound and unlikely to cost a trick as partner surely had to have the king for her opening bid. But when I saw four clubs headed by the ace it should have set off alarm bells as there was a good chance that the two hidden hands held three clubs each and I might have foreseen the end game situation that eventually materialized.
So what could I have done about it? Instead of woodenly playing diamonds at every opportunity I should have switched to a low heart at trick two. If Herself held any heart honour we could sooner or later have established an extra trick for our side before declarer could get her 10th. But then if I had defended properly this column would never have seen the light of day. I guess that’s why they say every cloud has a silver lining!
Column: Bridge by the Lake
Ken Masson has been playing, teaching and writing about bridge for more than 40 years. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Ken has been living in the Toronto area since 1967. He and his wife and bridge partner Rosemarie have been wintering in Lakeside since 2006. Even after all these years of playing they find bridge to be a constant challenge and enjoy sharing some of their triumphs and mishaps with Ojo readers in each column.