Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
Aficionados of duplicate bridge love this version of the game for many reasons, not the least being the competition between players sitting in the same direction and holding the same cards. A duplicate game normally consists of 26 or 27 deals over the course of about 3½ hours and, thanks to our living in the computer age, results are known very shortly after the last hand is played and a printout lets you study all the results at your leisure.
We are very fortunate here in Lakeside to have a wonderful duplicate club that welcomes newcomers warmly. There is even a weekly game just for newbies – if you have never played duplicate before, or haven’t played for a long time, I suggest you try it out. The club is located in Riberas beside Mom’s restaurant. To learn more go to their website: http://www.chapalabridge.com/
This month’s hand shows the duplicate mind at work as overtricks are worth their weight in gold. The contract of 3 hearts by South was arrived at after North responded to South’s opening of 1 heart with a bid of 1 no trump, which was forcing for one round. East in turn made a call of 2 clubs and South rebid 2 hearts to show a six card suit. North raised to the three level to show precisely 3 card support and values for a limit raise but as South had a minimum in high card points, there was no further bidding.
West obediently led the 8 of clubs which East overtook with the 9 to cash the ace and then to continue with the king. South paused to contemplate the situation. If there had been no bidding by East or West, declarer would likely have ruffed with the heart jack, hoping that East held the queen. However, the bidding had revealed that East held 5 clubs to West’s 2, therefore there were 11 unknown cards in West’s hand to 8 in East’s hand. The laws of probability now slightly favoured West having more hearts than East and therefore more likely to hold the queen.
Having figured that out, South now had to decide what to do about it. Then the penny dropped – South ruffed the club queen with the ace of trumps! Now declarer laid down the heart jack on which West smoothly followed with the 2. Unflinchingly, declarer called for the 6 from dummy and was delighted to see the 9 played by East. Now it was simplicity itself to lead another high heart and it mattered not whether West covered as the queen was well and truly smothered. Declarer lost only one more trick, a diamond, and scored 170 for 3 hearts making 4.
The true reward for declarer’s initiative was a complete top on the board when the comparisons were made at the end of the session. At every other table the contract was either 4 hearts down 1 or 3 hearts just making. Knowing the likely distribution of the opponents’ cards stood this declarer in good stead.
Of course, there was no guarantee that South’s ploy would work but his thoughtful play increased the odds in his favor.