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A hand to really test the grey matter

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Something this week to not only test the grey cells, but also to enchant and amuse.

Figure 1

You are playing in a high stakes rubber bridge game against opponents that are not only good but have enough money to back their judgement, and you pick up this hand as South, vulnerable against non-vulnerable opponents (see Figure 1).

Figure 2

Try not to look further down the column before figuring out the hand.

While you are thinking of what to do with your lovely hand your left hand opponent passes as dealer and your partner opens a ‘gambling’ 3NT , showing a solid minor of at least seven cards and all the top honours and nothing else outside. This gets you thinking, but what really catches your attention is when your right-hand opponent bids 6 clubs!

You collect yourself and try and absorb this auction - right-hand opponent is clearly trying to get in the way of your bidding and must have a solid club suit of at least nine cards – over to you.

Have you decided on your next bid? Well, it seems clear that partner’s solid suit is diamonds and now your hand looks amazing. With controls in each suit and eight tricks in your own hand you now confidently bid 7 diamonds which must be cold.

Left-hand opponent passes and the first hint that all is not well is when partner goes deep into thought, and stays deep in thought for a full five minutes. He finally passes with a resigned shrug and you now get really worried when right-hand opponent breaks into a big smile and also passes. West leads the 9 of clubs – the full hand is (see Figure 2):

Yes indeed, the Machiavellian East has hatched a nasty trap for you and you have fallen deep inside! After his partner’s pass and the 3NT bid on his right, East decided that North/South owned the hand possibly in a slam (6 clubs is cold), and that he was probably going to sacrifice in 6 diamonds anyway, but decided to find a way to totally obfuscate the bidding.

He found you with just the sort of hand he hoped for, a few diamonds and shortage in clubs, and the rest is history. Of course if you had doubled 6 clubs, East would have run to 6 diamonds and taken his medicine, but that did not happen.

Partner, of course, knows what has happened once you bid 7 diamonds, but there was no way out – if he bid 7NT that would get doubled for a real disaster.

East had no reason to double your contract as you might figure it all out and bid 7 spades and his partner may well not have a diamond to lead. Having succeeded in his subterfuge he was happy to leave things where they were and collected his nine tricks for plus 900!

This is the stuff that dreams, and nightmares, are made of – we can all spend some time imagining that we were the clever East player who succeeded in his bold move.


Monday, July 19


1. Peter Donnellan - Charles Hall

2. Betsy Baillie - Joyce Pearson

3. Magda Farag - John Burville


1. Gertie Barker - Jane Smith

2. Jane Clipper - Michael Tait

3. Aida Bostelmann - Julia Beach

Tuesday, July 20


1. Sally Irvine - Ineke Hetzel

2. Jo-Ann Dawson - Jean Schilling

3. Katyna Rabain - Louise Payne


1. Malcolm Moseley - Mark Stevens

2. Janice Bucci - Angela McKittrick

3. Felicity Lunn - Gina Graham

Wednesday, July 21


1. Gertie Barker - Jack Rhind

2. Betsy Baillie - Martha Ferguson

3. Lynanne Bolton - Greta Marshall


1. Stephanie Kyme - Peter Donnellan

2. Linda Abend - George Correia

3. Marge Way - Charles Hall

Friday, July 23

1. Wendy Gray - Richard Gray

2. Aida Bostelmann - Heather Woolf

3. Marge Way - Gill Butterfield

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Published July 24, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated July 24, 2021 at 7:48 am)

A hand to really test the grey matter

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