Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
This month’s hand contains a good lesson for those who like to rush into the bidding where others may fear to tread.
In an event played at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club, North opened her 19 pointer with 1 diamond after West passed as dealer. East passed and South 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 North who promptly raised the contract to 4 spades to end the bidding.
West led the club queen and when dummy came down South saw that he was in a very sound contract. However, as this was matchpoint scoring, declarer wanted to notch up as many tricks as he could in an attempt to beat out as many pairs as possible holding the same cards at the other tables.
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, South won the first trick in dummy, cashed the spade king, and then played a low spade to the jack. Declarer was duly rewarded when West showed out and he drew the last trump. The remaining cards were friendly to South’s cause and he 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 declarer was able to change 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: 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.