By Ken Masson
Competitive bidding is often the most exciting part of duplicate bridge. As each partner attempts to describe his or her holding, it can be very difficult to know exactly where the final contract belongs. This month’s deal certainly falls into that category.
North dealt and opened the bidding one diamond and East with a balanced 9 count passed. South barely had a bid but with a 5 card major, an outside ace and 6 total high card points was perfectly justified in bidding one heart. West had a clear-cut one spade bid and an aggressive North chimed in with a cue point of the opponents’ suit showing a limit raise or better. Holding more than a minimum, East bid 3 spades but North brought proceedings to a close by putting the 4 heart card on the table.
West led the spade K and when the dummy hit the table paused to plan his next move. One of the most common defensive ploys is to lead trumps in an effort to prevent declarer from ruffing losers in the dummy so he next played the ace of trumps from his hand before switching to the diamond queen. When East eventually won a diamond trick, he too played trumps but that was all to declarer’s liking as he drew the last opposing heart and claimed 10 tricks losing only one spade, one heart and one diamond.
But take a look at those high trumps in dummy and you will see that if declarer is forced to use them prematurely to trump two spade losers, and if the defence cashes the Heart ace, the 9 of hearts in East’s hand will magically become high and the contract will be defeated. It all depends on how quickly the defenders realise their good fortune and cooperate to take advantage of it.
Too often when we see shortness in dummy our first thought is to lead trumps to try to cut down on dummy’s ruffing power. This is one case where the opposite is true and certainly occurs more often than we realize.
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.