Bridge Club prepares to resume in-person games
Some brighter news from the Bridge Club as president Wendy Gray informed the members that the Committee is preparing for a restart of the physical games once the anticipated easing on large gatherings comes into force, and I see that has happened as I write this column! So (fully vaccinated) members can look forward to sitting opposite their favourite partners and enjoying the social aspect of bridge once more. Look out for announcements from the Club on timing and Covid protocols.
Wendy also notes that membership renewals for 2022 were robust which is a good sign for the year ahead – as always, fingers crossed! If you forgot to renew, now is the time.
This week’s hand is about a topic not often covered in bridge literature – trying to prevent defender communication. Most pairs have some method of telling partner where their strength lies, either using the age-old method of discarding a high card in the strong suit at the first opportunity, or by using some other method.
My preference is for Lavinthal discards which are simple but effective – in Lavinthal your first discard is always in a suit that you do not want and the size of the discard indicates which of the remaining two suits you do want.
So if declarer is drawing trumps in a heart contract your discards will mean the following:
• Low spade – I do not want spades, I want clubs, the lower of the other suits
• High spade – I do not want spades I want diamonds
Low club – I do not want clubs I want diamonds
• High club – I do not want clubs I want spades
• Low diamond – I do not want diamonds I want clubs
• High diamond – I do not want diamonds I want spades
There a couple of advantages to Lavinthal over traditional methods:
• You don’t throw away high cards in a suit where they may be needed
• Your discard usually carries two messages, the suit you do want and the suit you don’t, leaving an inference that you might have a little something in the third suit
So back to the hand (see Figure 1).
In a recent tournament the four-spade game was reached 39 times and succeeded 20 times. Where it was defeated, the opening lead was a club or a spade.
For those who ‘never lead away from a King’, the trump lead was routine. It is usually best also when dummy has not shown a long suit which can give declarer discards. Seven Wests led a club, five times after East had doubled an artificial club bid, once after East had opened an unusual three clubs and once after the auction shown. Where four spades made, eight Wests led a heart (end of the defence) and 12 led a spade.
The question is, how would you play four spades as South after a trump lead?
The successful declarers were usually the more experienced ones who did not give the defenders the chance to signal their preferences – win the spade Ace and immediately take the heart finesse. West wins this and now has to switch to a club to defeat the contract, but she has no guidance on how to continue and often will continue spades and the contract makes as one of declarer’s club losers goes away on a heart.
Notice that if declarer draws even one more trump before playing hearts it gives East the chance to signal for a club (by playing the 9 of clubs in traditional methods or the 2 of diamonds using Lavinthal) and the contract is defeated.
Good play by those declarers who succeeded!
It has been a depressing month for the Club in terms of losing some longstanding members and I’m sad to report the passing of yet another devoted member of the Club, Pat Riding, who passed away last week.
Pat was in her 97th year, having celebrated her 90th birthday at the Club in March 2015 with champagne and cake while featuring in the bridge placings that week!
Pat was a bridge junkie – she retired from the Club a few years ago but will be remembered by all as an avid bridge player, travelling abroad to play in Regionals and Nationals, and often being successful. She was certainly one of the Club’s “characters” – she had her set ways which never varied, and she partnered a large number of fellow members over the years. Her memory will live on with the members for many years to come.
Our thoughts are with her daughter Felicity and her son Christopher, together with the rest of her family and close friends.
BRIDGE CLUB RESULTS
Friday, January 28
1. Magda Farag – Judy Bussell
2. Betsy Baillie – George Correia
3. Janice Trott – Wenda Krupp
Monday, January 31
1. Marge Way – Annabelle Mann
2. Julia Beach – Aida Bostelmann
3/4Wenda Krupp – Jane Gregory
3/4Charles Hall – John Rayner
1. Lynanne Bolton – Peter Donnellan
2. Pat Siddle – Gill Gray
3. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith
Tuesday, February 1
1. Louise Payne – Katyna Rabain
2. Barbara Elkin – Neil Gilbertson
3. Malcolm Moseley – Mark Stevens
Wednesday, February 2
1. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith
2. Magda Farag – Sheena Rayneer
3. Julia Beach – Pat Siddle
Thursday, February 3
1. Inger Mesna – John Rayner
2. Sue Hodge – John Hodge
3. Wenda Krupp – Jane Gregory