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Read this hand, it’ll be worth it

Bridge The Bermuda Bridge Club Open Teams Championship concluded last Friday and ended in a fairly comfortable win for the ‘Tucker’ team of Alan Douglas,John Burville, Julia Lunn and David Cordon the team was so named in memory of Alan’s partner the late Bill Tucker and puts a great exclamation point in memory of Bill. In second place were the team of Roman Smolski-Vera Petty- Marge Way-David Pereira and in third were Tony Saunders-Joe Wakefield- David and Sally Sykes, so this was a very strong field. Well done to the winners and, again, special mention for Julia Lunn, who just a few weeks ago won her first Open event in the Mixed Pairs, and once again comes through in a tough event, in a tough field. Well done to her and her teammates, all of whom have won numerous events at the Club. Before I get to the hand a bit of a follow-up on the Panama Team performanace where I heard from Jack Rhind. According to Jack, fatigue may have played a part as it was a bit of a challenge getting to the venue. At the table he felt that lack of practice at Teams may have been a factor, as the failure to push harder for vulnerable games may have cost a few points. We don’t play enough tough Teams events at the Club, though I see that steps are being taken to address that with some IMP Pairs games. What Jack did stress was the great team spirit exhibited by all the players which made his job easier. Players were supportive of his lineup choices, and took collective responsibility for the wins, and the losses, always good to see from a representative team. This week’s hand needs a bit of concentration both in the reading and the application at the table, but I promise it will be worth it. TEAMS - None Vul, Dealer North S AQ5 H 74 D AQ62 CAQJ4 S 4 S J1092 H AK962 H 853 D J1097 D 853 C 873 C K52 S K8763 H QJ10 D K4 C 1096 The bidding: NORTH SOUTH 1C 1S 2NT 3C 3S 4S North’s jump to 2NT showed 18-21 points, South’s 3C was checkback to see if North had three card spade support and when he showed it South bid the spade game. In the Open room West cashed the two hearts and then , muttering ‘it’s a guess’ switched to the diamond jack- declarer won in hand and drew three rounds of trumps discovering the trump loser. He now cashed diamonds discarding a club,ruffed the last diamond and cashed the heart queen throwing a club from dummy coming to this position : S H D C AQJ S S J H H D D C 873 C K5 S 8 H D C 109 Having seen the AK of hearts from West he decided that East had the Club king so instead of taking the finesse he exited with his trump, forcing an annoyed East to lead into the AQ of Clubs well played. In the Closed room, however, East West were both on the same wavelength. on the first heart East played the heart 3 showing a three card holding. Then on the king he played the 5. West knew that partner had the 8,5 left and that if he wanted a diamond switch he would have played the 8. So, he switched to a club and there was now no way for declarer to succeed. Lovely, thoughtful defence from both players which received the reward it deserved. Postscript last week I discussed an opening hand of S-K10985 H-KJ8754 D-85 C-6 and suggested that I would definitely pass unless partner and I played 2D to show a weak hand with the majors. Alan Douglas, who this week gave a talk on the Convention Card at the Club pointed out that this convention is NOT permitted by the ACBL, so my advice would be a definite pass. Thanks Alan. ERIC North players who do not have a system opening for weak major two-suiters will have to choose between a disciplined pass and an atypical weak two-bid, natural or via a Multi 2D where part of the vernacular. A few enterprising souls will take it a step further and open 3H. West, with a wonderful hand, will face a number of different scenarios that will affect his approach dramatically. Where North opens 2H or a Multi 2D (Pass-2H Spass or correct), West will cuebid, jump cuebid (strong minors), jump to 4NT (minors), or double (hoping to survive spade bids from East). Whether East accurately appreciates the value of his three golden cards in combination with the ruffing potential in clubs is difficult to project, but it’s possible that some E/W pairs will stop at game, and it’s likely that there will be more pairs in six than in seven. It’s a good grand slam, but the poor breaks in the minors pose a threat. A trump lead deprives declarer of a third ruff in dummy, and a space lead takes out an entry to ruff a club prematurely, and declarer can’t both take all his ruffs and cash the second high club without establishing a trump winner for South, but if he goes about this business, cashing the SA en route while leaving the heart suit until the end, he will be able to squeeze North in the majors (without having to guess the distribution) for a 13th; a heart lead or premature play of the heart suit by declarer would preclude this winning line. Although a heart lead is not especially attractive against seven, North does have a difficult lead; he is more likely to lead a heart against six. As seven might fail on any lead if declarer misjudges the play, those who stop in six might score reasonably well, and if there are enough unsuccessful grand slams, even the game bidders might not fare too badly. DEZ I have to agree with all of that but must emphasise a couple of points. Firstly - One CANNOT open that North hand 1 Heart or 1 Spade ever opposite an unpassed partner. It has a lot of playing strength but partner cannot see through the backs of the cards and know that on this occasion you have chosen to open an 8 point distributional hand. I always want my partner to believe my bidding more than he/she believes the opponents bidding , and that requires discipline and consistency in my bidding. I play an opening 2 Diamonds as a weak hand with the majors but if I didn’t have that tool I would pass and find a way to back into the bidding. Secondly, as Eric points out that East hand is pure gold opposite a partner who is showing a diamond suit in his hand. A singleton, three good trumps and both majors controlled, what more can one ask for? I would not let my partner stay out of the diamond slam once they show a big minor two suiter. Incidentally, I actually left out a big chunk of Eric’s commentary due to space constraints. Speaks a lot for this game of ours that one hand can generate so much analysis.