Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
The Annual Valentine’s Ajijic Tournament came and went with a lower attendance than usual over previous years. This was due, at least in part, to the price per session of $12 US (or 230 pesos) per person, which for Canadian participants is expensive due to our weak loonie. If this tourney is going to stay alive and well the American Contract Bridge League, which governs the game in the US, Canada and Mexico, will need to address this issue.
There were some bright spots, however, like the sterling play of Alain Turcotte and Louise Menard who won 2 pairs events outright and finished tied for third in the Swiss teams. They have consistently shone since they arrived in the fall for their first full season in Lakeside.
Herself and I had a less triumphant outing with a few modest placings to show for our efforts. The diagrammed hand was one of our successes which I believe contains a good lesson for those who like to rush into the bidding where others may fear to tread.
Sitting North in a duplicate event, Herself opened her 19 pointer with 1 diamond after West passed as dealer. East passed and I responded 1 spade. Now West made a takeout double to show the other two suits which I believe was an unwise decision being vulnerable, holding only 9 high card points and in the middle of a live auction. This did not unduly disturb Herself who promptly raised me to 4 spades to end the bidding.
West led the club queen and when dummy came down I saw that we were in a very sound contract. However, as this was matchpoint scoring, I wanted to notch up as many tricks as I could in an attempt to beat out as many pairs as possible holding our cards.
A quick mental review of the bidding suggested that West was likely to hold nine or ten cards in clubs and hearts and would therefore be short in the other two suits. With this in mind, I won the first trick in dummy, cashed the spade king and then played a low spade to the jack. I was duly rewarded when West showed out and I drew the last trump. The remaining cards were friendly to our cause and I emerged with all 13 tricks for a top score on this board.
Most experienced bridge players follow the mantra “8 ever, 9 never” which simply means that when you hold 8 cards in a suit missing the queen you should always (or “ever”) try a finesse to capture her majesty. However, when you have 9 cards between your two hands you should consistently play for the drop by cashing the ace and king (or “never” finessing), unless the opposition bidding gives you any clues to do otherwise.
Circumstances alter cases, as they say, so in this instance I was able to change my normal strategy based on the information West had unwittingly provided. Of course, there was no guarantee East held the trump queen but all the evidence pointed to a strong likelihood.
So the next time you are tempted to enter the fray with questionable values, bear in mind that you might be giving useful information to the opponents.
Column: Anyone Can Train Their Dog
Raised and educated in Alberta and pursued a mixed career of business, livestock and real estate. Had a life-long passion for working with dogs and horses. Next came 12 years near Victoria on Vancouver Island where we had several more business’ and then the “Dear, let’s sell everything and move to Mexico phase.”