12th World Bridge Championships Page 5 Bulletin 2 - Sunday 11 June  2006

Warming up in Verona

By Barry Rigal

The first session of the pairs is often rather akin to a crap shoot. Everyone needs to warm up – our first deal was no exception. I was playing with Sue Picus.

Board 21. Dealer North. N/S Vul.
 ♠ K Q 7 5
Q 2
10 8 6 4
♣ K 10 5

♠ 10 4 2
J 8 7 6 5 3
Bridge deal
♠ J 9
K 10 4
A K J 9 5 3 2
 ♠ A 8 6 3
A 9
♣ A 9 8 6 4 2

We sold out to 3 after the auction Pass –1- 2♣ – Pass ; 2 - 3 - All pass. We deserved a zero for this of course but actually got close to average. Why? Well, if South bids 3♠ over 3 and plays 4♠ it looks natural for East to win the diamond lead and continue the suit. If declarer ruffs low (hardly unreasonable), West overruffs and leads a heart through; down one.

Declarer can succeed – I’m not going to go as far as to say that he should…. At trick two declarer ruffs high, draws two rounds of trumps and clears the clubs. West can win and lead a heart through, retaining the master trump for the gain of tempo – but it does him no good. Declarer wins the A and runs the clubs; West can ruff in when he likes but all the hearts have gone from dummy and declarer has the rest.

Board 25. Dealer North. E/W Vul.
 ♠ K 10 9 6
A 6
Q J 8 2
♣ K Q10

♠ A 8 5
K 10 9
9 7 4 3
Bridge deal
♠ J 7 2
J 8 7 4 2
A 4 3 2
 ♠ Q 4 3
Q 5 3
K 10
♣ A J 7 5 4

All Pass    

Like pretty much the whole field, I played 3NT from the North seat on a low heart lead (whether it was attitude or fourth highest pretty much the same inferences were available). The correct route in 3NT is far from clear: Peter Fredin, for example, went for all the marbles by going up with the queen – once this was covered he was dead in the water (or he had lost his marbles I suppose).

By contrast I was still in the game when I ducked the trick and took the 9 with the ace. A diamond to the king held as East gave Smith to encourage the lead (but whether this was because he did not want a shift, or had J 10 9 or his actual holding, I did not know). I’m sure it must be right to cash off the clubs and find out a bit more about what was going on, or even to play spades now – as the cards lie you make the contract easily enough. But I pressed on with diamonds; East took the A and played a low heart. I misguessed and was back to down two; 32% was rather more than I deserved.

Board 2. Dealer East. N/S Vul.
 ♠ 10 4
8 6 4 3
A J 9 4
♣ J 10 4

♠ Q 2
10 8 7 6 3
Bridge deal
♠ A J 9 8 7
A Q 9 5
5 2
 ♠ K 6 5 3
K 10 7 2
♣ K 6 2

1NT Pass2Pass
2 All pass  

The field played 2♠ here. The only lead, at double dummy, to hold that contract to eight tricks is a trump. Declarer cannot manage more than four trumps, two hearts, and two clubs. At our table on repeated diamond leads I overtook and continued with a low diamond. When declarer pitched a club Sue could ruff and return a trump to ensure the defence took five tricks. Elisabeth Ettinger did far better when at her table North ducked the second diamond. South chose to return a low heart. Elisabeth overtook the jack, to finesse in clubs and then ruff a club to hand. The A and a heart ruff followed by a club ruff with the ♠A saw declarer ruff a heart with the ♠Q, her eighth trick. She was now down to ♠J 9 8, and when she led a diamond from dummy North cooperated by ruffing in with the ♠10 – and that was her tenth trick. (Incidentally, a low trump at trick four would not have been good enough to hold declarer to eight tricks – declarer can win in hand and play a low heart. South can win and play back a spade, but declarer wins in dummy and ruffs a diamond. If South overruffs with the king, declarer can set up a long diamond, so he pitches a club. South cashes the spade ace heart ace, then plays three rounds of clubs ruffing in hand – South can overruff but is endplayed in hearts.)

Board 10. Dealer East. All Vul.
 ♠ K 6 5 4 2
9 8 7 6 4
♣ 9 2

♠ Q J 10 9 7
A K J 5
Bridge deal
♠ --
Q J 5 3
Q 10 8 4 3 2
 ♠ A 8 3
10 2
9 6
♣ K 8 6 5 4 3

4Pass5All Pass

Some boards are just too difficult for regular mortals…. Can standard bidding get you close to 7 here? Our opponents had the sequence shown above… East, who had denied an ace facing a game-forcing 2♣ opening bid, was perhaps closer to most in getting to slam, in terms of the fact that her partner could have bid 5 over 3 with no slam interest. Given the sixth diamond, and the honours in both side suits it was she contented herself with a slow raise to 5 and her partner could do no more, giving us a 90% board for minus 640. A lot of the field played 3NT – making 12 tricks was worth 40%.

Board 14. Dealer East. None Vul.
 ♠ A 10 8 6
Q 8 2
♣ A 9 7

♠ K Q 9 4 3
A 7 6 3
Bridge deal
♠ 7
J 8 7 6 4
J 10 5 4
 ♠ J 5 2
10 9 5 3 2
K 9
♣ 10 5 2

PassDblAll pass  

A bloodthirsty auction saw East declare 3, in what turned out to be a surprisingly healthy spot on a heart lead (a trump lead leaves declarer scrambling for down one). Correct play on a heart lead is to ruff, cross to the ♣K to ruff another heart, then lead the ♠K from the board. North wins and can do no better than play a trump. Declarer puts in the 10, forcing the K and A, then plays ♠Q and ruffs a spade, ruffs another heart and now ruffs a spade with the J to lead another trump. With the J high in hand, all the defence can score is two trump tricks, a club, and a spade.

As we know so well, it is better to be lucky than good. At our table declarer ruffed the heart lead, then crossed to the club king to lead a spade up. I won and played a trump. And now eight tricks were the limit (and declarer fell from grace and ended up with only seven).

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