Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
No matter how long one has been playing bridge there is always something new to learn and there is no better way than watching experts in high level competition. The website Bridge Base Online frequently broadcasts tournaments from all over the world free of charge and this month’s deal originated there.
Whenever they meet in a competitive arena there is always a special rivalry between the English and the Irish. Whether it’s Rugby, Soccer or Bridge, playing against England seems to bring out the best in the Irish as they take an extra pride in beating the auld enemy. In recent years the boys from Erin have put together a very strong team of bridge players that can compete with any on the world’s stage, so it is no longer a surprise when they defeat teams from countries with much larger populations.
And so it was when the Camrose Bridge Tournament was held this year between teams from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The illustrated hand went a long way in helping Ireland to prevail over the Anglos on their way to winning the overall competition. At one table, the English South opened one spade and when his partner responded two hearts he jumped in spades to show a solid (he thought) suit. North took this to mean that his partner had a weakish hand in context so he decided not to explore any further and signed off in four spades.
West led a diamond and in quick order the contract was down as the defense won two diamonds and two trumps as the foul split of spades became apparent.
The bidding was quite different at the other table where the Irish South opened one club to show a hand of 17+ high card points and any distribution. North bid one heart showing at least a five card suit, eight+ points and forcing to game. South now bid two spades, similar in nature to his English counterpart’s, to which North rebid three hearts showing at least six good hearts. South responded with a cue bid in clubs which encouraged North to bid six clubs, offering his partner a choice of slams. It was easy now for South to close proceedings by bidding six hearts.
While the heart slam is cold as the cards lie there could have been a more difficult lead for North than the actual diamond ace followed by a low spade hoping West was the one with the void in that suit. Now all that remained was for declarer to draw trumps ending in the dummy, establish the spade suit by ruffing one more back to hand and using the club king as the entry to garner his 12 tricks.
Although I was rooting for the land of my birth while watching this contest, I can sympathise somewhat with the English pair sitting North-South. North had a marginal game force holding 11 high card points and a void in his partner’s first bid suit. I believe the Irish North-South were successful primarily because they were playing a Precision-type big club system and were able to find a trump fit at a relatively low level that allowed them to move beyond the game level with a good degree of confidence.
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.