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Team Gray clinch superb bronze in Guatemala

Last week's column on the results of the CACBF Championships described the struggles of the Bermuda team in the main event, but this week I am happy to report on some real success in Guatemala, including a morale-boosting performance by the Bermuda team after their exit from the championships.

When I was following the results of the CACBF website, I noticed that team “Gray” was holding the lead in the Transnational Teams event, an open entry event held alongside the Championships.

Team Gray turned out to be our own Richard and Wendy Gray, Peter Donnellan and Lynannne Bolton who continued to hold their lead for a full 15 matches!

Things got a little hotter when the eliminated teams from the main event dropped into the Transnational, but far from fading away the Gray team held on for a superb bronze medal behind the country teams of Barbados and Martinique — quite a performance, so many congratulations to the quartet. Also recording a welcome success was the Bermuda team of Gertie Barker/Jane Smith, Magda Farah/Sheena Rayner, Judy Bussell/Charles Hall who, after their elimination from the main event entered and won the Consolation Swiss Teams.

This event had a good entry and it is good to see a team bounce back and restore pride in themselves, and the win must have done them all a world of good — well done all.

Today's hand has a familiar theme and I make no apologies for it because it is the sort of holding that comes up time after time after time, and I shake my head when I see “good” players get it wrong ... time after time after time.

So, first to the hand and then a full discussion of the correct play — again no apologies as I want you to think this one through and then get similar combinations right by deduction, not just memory.

Dealer North, Both Vul – TEAMS

S AQ842

H A53

D 872

C K6

S 953

H K2

D AKQJ

C A1095

You reach the contract of six Spades from the South hand after a transfer sequence (or even 4 Spades where the overtricks count).

I know how the play will go on a Heart lead — win in hand, lead a Spade to the Queen and when that loses to the King you win any return and cash the Spade Ace.

The full hand:

NORTH

S AQ842

H A43

D 872

C K6

EAST

S K

H J9876

D 10543

C Q54

SOUTH

S 953

H K2

D AKQJ

C A1097

WEST

S J1076

H Q105

D 96

C J832

You lose three Spade tricks! Okay, unlucky, but the declarer play was a bit pedestrian.

The first thing I ask you is with AQ864 opposite 953 is there ANY way you can avoid at least one Spade loser? The answer is no — try it on any distribution of the Spade suit.

So once you know you have to lose one trick you need to find a way to avoid losing two — or even three.

All of these plays, and I know you hate it, must start by you cashing the Spade Ace. Now if nothing interesting happens you go back to your hand and lead another Spade towards the Queen and if RHO plays low you decide whether to go up with the Queen playing LHO for the King, or just duck it playing RHO to have started with Kx.

You cannot construct a hand where this play is worse than playing a Spade to the Queen on the first round ... try it!

So let's see what happens if we make the play of cashing the Spade Ace first on the hand above — East's King falls under the Ace so you know that West started with J1072 — so now you lead a low Spade to your 9 and West's 10 and now you have a finessing position with the Q8 over West's J7.

Only one Spade loser instead of the three losers suffered by most of the field and you make the hand with 4 Spades, two Hearts, 4 Diamonds and two Clubs.

I could go on — but I won't. Over to you to study these holding and make real gains at the table.

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Published May 13, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 13, 2017 at 12:47 am)

Team Gray clinch superb bronze in Guatemala

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