How would you have bid this hand?
Bridge play can be broken into three main areas – bidding, declarer play and defence. The most important contributor to results is certainly the bidding, and it is also the easiest part of the game to teach and to learn, easiest being a relative term!
With some study of the structure of bidding, combined with practice, one can become an excellent bidder over time and that will show in your scores. Declarer play and defence, however, are considerably harder to master and getting proficient in these areas comes largely from playing often, reading up on technique, and learning from your mistakes.
With all that in mind, take a look at how you would have bid this hand and then how you would play it in a Teams match, where all that matters is making your contract (see Figure 1).
The bidding was good – South’s change of suit bid of 2 diamonds was forcing and North now showed three-card heart support – that was all South needed and with first-round control in the unbid suits, she bid the slam – a good, practical bid.
West led the heart nine.
When playing a hand the general approach is straightforward – when everything looks rosy, look hard for what can go wrong, and when things look difficult, play the hand on the basis that the opposing cards lie exactly as you want them to be to make the hand.
This hand falls into the first category – the slam looks easy, just draw trumps, ruff out the clubs and claim 13 tricks with 2 spades, 5 hearts, one diamond and 5 clubs. Hmmm … but what if clubs are not 3-2? You have only one entry to dummy outside of clubs so if you play the Ace-King of clubs and an opponent shows out on the second one the hand is dead – you now have one entry to ruff another club but then no way back to dummy and you will in fact lose three diamonds for down 2!
For the full hand, see Figure 2.
The solution is simple – draw trumps, play a club and duck it in dummy! Now win any return in your hand and you still have an entry to the clubs to play the Ace King (pitching a diamond) and ruff a club to set up the last two clubs. With the spade entry to dummy you can pitch your remaining diamonds on the good clubs and claim your contract.
I know how difficult it seems to duck that first club, but at Teams bridge all that matters is making your contract, and thus you have to make the safety play.
How would I play this hand in Duplicate Pairs where the overtrick might be crucial?
Difficult – if I thought no one else would be in the slam, I would go with the safety play above and get a good score, but on the combined hands it looks as if most of the field will be in this slam, so that needs different thinking. Knowing that most of them would play Ace-King of clubs which will work 66 per cent of the time when clubs are 3-2, I think there is little choice but to go with the field and go down two with the rest of them!
No one said this was an easy game!
• Many congratulations to Heather Woolf and George Correia for not only winning last Wednesday but doing it with an excellent game that broke the 70 per cent barrier at 70.31 per cent — really well done!
BRIDGE CLUB RESULTS
Monday, August 2
1. Jane Clipper - Mike Tait
2. Caroline Svensen - Dianna Kempe
3. Wendy Gray - Richard Gray
Tuesday, August 3
1. Gina Graham - Felicity Lunn
2. Marion Silver - Duncan Silver
3. Katyna Rabain - Louise Payne
Wednesday, August 4
1. Heather Woolf - George Correia
2. Judith Bussell - Stephanie Kyme
3. Gertie Barker - Magda Farag
Thursday, August 5
1. Elizabeth McKee - Marge Way
2. Rachael Gosling - George Correia
3. Tim Mardon - Richard Hall
Friday, August 6
1. Wendy Gray - Richard Gray
2. Molly Taussig - John Glynn
3. Judy Bussell - Magda Farag