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Goodbye to a challenging year and a great bridge player

David Ezekiel
Dealer South , Both Vul: the bidding was good

Happy New Year! I won’t put my mouth on it by saying that 2022 has to be better than this one, but we can all hope it will be.

We are back to online bridge and once again we have no Bermuda Regional to look forward to, so it is all a bit challenging for the Club and its members, and I’m sure we all look forward to the day when things get back to normal.

Little did we appreciate how precious 'normal’ is.

Today’s hand is a simple one, but that doesn’t mean it is easy -it just means that it has but one problem that you need to solve!

South opened a strong 2 Clubs and heard the 2 Diamond Negative from partner.

The next bid could have been a challenge as South is afraid of being left in a part score and the temptation is to jump straight to game, but this pair had agreed that any suit bid by the 2 Club opener was a one round force - and that the only bid that could be passed was 2NT.

It is a good arrangement and you should discuss it with your partner.

North now jumped to 4S adopting the principle of bad hand- fast arrival, good hand slow progress. With a better hand and spade support North would bid 3 Spades leaving the way open for slam investigation.

South, though, already had slam in mind and jumped to 6 Hearts offering partner a choice of slams, as the heart slam would always play better if North was 3-4 in spades and hearts.

North corrected to 6 Spades. West led the heart jack.

So, what do most declarers do? Win the heart, run some trumps hoping for a bad discard by the opponents, and eventually hope that hearts are 3-3.

They are not on this hand and the contract goes one down.

The correct play is almost easier to see than to execute, as it entails walking a bit of a tightrope!

Win the heart, draw only two rounds trumps and now, with one trump remaining out, play the top two hearts. If both defenders follow, draw the last trump and claim.

On this hand, however, hearts are not 3-3 but the hand with the long hearts has the last spade- so declarer can safely ruff the 4th heart, return to hand and draw the last trump and claim.

This play provides declarer with a big extra chance to make the hand other than simply relying on 3-3 hearts which is about a 33 per cent chance – the extra chance takes that percentage up over 60 per cent.

A lot of this play is about being brave – if the third heart is ruffed the fourth heart can still be ruffed and the contract still goes only one down, so declarer loses nothing by adding the extra chance.

In closing, it is with huge sadness that I report the passing of John Hoskins who was such a big part of the club for so many years.

The Club had just sent him a signed card for his 90th birthday and he passed shortly after.

John was a mad keen golfer and an avid bridge player and was good at both – always dangerous on the golf course and super sharp at the bridge table.

Mid Ocean members will miss the sight of John endlessly fishing balls out of the water at the 7th hole and he was a great partner to have in a match. He was popular at both clubs and in every other sphere of life, including his up- front role for so many years as President of the Bermuda Olympic Association which he served so well. John travelled frequently with the BOA and, a man after my own heart, usually managed to squeeze in a game of golf at the various venues he visited!

He was a very good bridge player and I remember exactly when something he said confirmed to me just how sharp he was.

It was some 40 years ago – yes 40- and Colin Millington and I were playing against John and his partner.

Colin, one of the best to play in Bermuda, opened a 13/15 NT, my right hand opponent passed and with Qxx, 932, KJxx, Axx I saw no reason to bid and also passed.

John was in the pass-out seat and after some thought he bid 2 Hearts – this was passed round to me and I had an easy double and the contract went down 3 for -500 and gave John and his partner a zero.

When John’s partner pointed out the danger of his bid John quickly explained – if the rest of the room is in, 1NT Colin is going to play it better than the lot of them, so we were probably onto a zero anyway.

So I took a bid hoping you had a hand to help me get out for maybe one down which would have been a good board, but it didn’t work so let’s move on!

Wonderful analysis of the risk reward and he soared in my estimation as a player at that point.

John will be sorely missed – he had a great sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye, and was great to know.

Our thoughts are with Joan and son Nick and daughter Christine and the rest of the family.

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Published December 31, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated December 31, 2021 at 7:35 am)

Goodbye to a challenging year and a great bridge player

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