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Immense instructional value from a boring-looking hand

The second session of the Non Life Master Pairs concluded on Thursday last, and another strong 63 percent session saw the halfway leaders Michael Tait and Peter Donnellan extend their lead to take the event by a comfortable two and a half board margin. Vaulting into second with a 61 percent game were Don Airey and Ernest Paynter with Annelies Scheland and Heather Woolf a hairs breadth back in third. Scott and Sally Godet finished fourth and Ellen Davidson — Paul Thompson in fifth. Finishing first in Stratum B were Margaret Kirk and George Correia with James and Marsha Fraser in second . Congratulations to all. Peter and Michael are clearly more than ready for regular play in the Open games and they have both shown terrific progress, with Peter, who is pretty new to the competitive game, having had a particularly successful year at the table. This was a competitive field and all the placed pairs can feel good about their performance over the two sessions. Next up is the Mixed Pairs which had its first session on Wednesday and second session last night , Friday, so full results in next week’s column. This event used to be called ‘ the divorce stakes’ but more and more married couples have seen the light and avoid testing their emotions in the heat of battle. Very wise. Also, next week is Charity Week and the entire proceeds of every game will go to De Boy’s Day Out Club which is dedicated to the emotional and social well being of young men in Bermuda. The club is comprised of boys 8-21 years old, from diverse walks of life. De Boys' Day Out Club encourages boys to go against the natural grain of society and challenges them to develop into courageous men, committed husbands, caring fathers and productive citizens. A great cause and a wonderful gesture by the Bridge Club and its members. Before I get to this week’s hand a word on the very successful ‘Curry and Quiz’ night which took place two weeks ago...these events are a lot of hard work to stage and thanks go to Sue and Peter Adhemar for getting it organised and, from all accounts, running it superbly. This week’s hand is about as boring looking a hand as you can get, but has an immense instructional value for both declarer and defenders. It is a variation on a hand that came up lately, and contains a card combination that comes up time and time again.

Pairs ….N/S Vulnerable …dealer North A65 AQ102 543 ¨ K63 10742 J93 83 7543 A962 J87 ¨ J109 ¨ 8754 KQ8 KJ96 KQ10 ¨ AQ2 North opened a club, South responded one heart and North bid a gentle 2 hearts, showing a normal opening hand , 4 card heart support and nothing really extra. South thought a bit before deciding not to investigate a Grand Slam and since it was match points and the 3-4-3-3 shape was not appealing, jumped straight to 6NT. West led the jack of clubs. Declarer won and before playing the crucial diamond suit played a few hearts and spades which told her nothing. She then led a low diamond to the queen and West’s ace….there was now no other choice for declarer but to win the return and take a finesse of the diamond jack….when this worked the small slam made. The defence made it really easy for declarer…..an expert declarer in the West seat would cater for this holding and on the first diamond would play smoothly low, letting the queen win. Now it is not easy…most declarers would go back to dummy, lead another diamond and when East plays low….look at the ceiling…say a little prayer…and put up the king. Curtains, down one. So the next time you are defending in this sort of situation don’t just grab the ace …plan ahead though, as a long think will give things away. There is also a lesson here for declarer…when you lead the first diamond don’t put in the queen, as that gives West a good idea that you have the king and makes the duck easier. Put up the king on the first trick sowing a seed of doubt in West’s mind that you might only have the king, and that makes ducking a lot more difficult. There is always something more to learn at this game….always.