Sunday, 10 February 2013

Leg Pull

Cambridge is "blessed" with enough bridge clubs that it is possible to play duplicate every night of the week,  I was therefore delighted to be invited by Tanawan Watts to play at the Cottenham club on Friday. In a slightly whimsical way, of which I thoroughly approve, the Cottenham club is actually not in Cottenham but in Girton, some five miles away.

This was Board 20 (details transposed for convenience).

Sitting South with both sides vulnerable,  I picked up, second in hand, Q10875 J102 A752 7 and heard the hand on my right open with a weak 2. After a slightly uneasy pass by West, my partner doubled for take out and the hand came back to me. Since Tanawan had been in pass out position for her take-out double, I contented myself with bidding 2 and heard 3 on my left. Tanawan competed with 3 and, although I did consider adding "one for the road", having earlier spoken to partner about the poor tactics of stretching to bid thin games at pairs, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour  - and so 3 became the final contract.

My left hand opponent led Q and this is what I saw:









My first thought was that if spades were 2-2, we had missed an easy game - how could I justify my earlier "cautionary" words?  There seemed to be a lot of clubs missing, and presumably the weak two bidder had a few of those, so he figured to be shorter in spades - my mind then pondered how to cope with a 3-1 break. I could perhaps cross to hand with A and lead the spade queen, hoping to pin a singleton nine or knave on my right. However this would not look very clever if instead the hand on my right had started with a singleton or doubleton king. In the former case, I would have magicked a second spade loser, where only one existed previously, and in the latter case, my opponent would almost certainly continue with two further rounds of hearts and my second heart winner would be ruffed away, leaving me reliant on a 3-2 diamond break for my tenth trick. A further risk would be that my right hand opponent had started with KJx in a 3613 shape. Too many losing options, I thought - and after winning the A, called for the A from dummy.

It was not a pleasant feeling when right hand opponent duly showed out! From a position of working out how to make an overtrick, I was now faced with the threat of one undertrick, maybe two.

Remembering the helpful words inscribed on the cover of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I recalled that the way to handle situations like this is to try and make as many of my side tricks and small trumps as possible - then in the end game, maybe the opponents winners and trumps would crash together.

Having won the first two tricks with aces, I continued by cashing the A (at this point partner gave me a slightly quizzical look). I then followed with a club ruff, a diamond to the king and a second club ruff. Time to establish a heart trick, while I still have an entry to play it, I mused, and led the J, won on my right by the K, who continued with  the J. Going to plan nicely, I thought, and played the A - but diamonds were 4-1 and this was ruffed on my left! Oh no, so now two diamond losers to go with the heart loser and three spade losers..........but not so, for the position was (with West on lead):


















West was now faced with a choice of poisons but she could not stop me making three of the remaining tricks: her only winners were destined to be the KJ - or she could play two rounds of trumps and instead I would lose only one spade and one diamond. Somehow two of my six losers had disappeared into thin air.

"Should I have bid four?," asked Tanawan rather sweetly.

1 comment:

  1. I should be honest and say that in fact the above is not quite how play went. West could see what was coming and did not ruff the DA, nor the HJ which followed, instead throwing clubs both times. However when I then led a diamond, she was left with only trumps and had to ruff her partner's winner - and then lead away from her KJ to my Q10.