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The cut and thrust of declarer play at Pairs

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Fig 1: the hand

The Bridge Club continues to take small and careful steps towards “the new normal” and have this week announced a “Your Club Needs You” initiative to encourage members to start playing and take a look at the considerable steps the club is taking to create a safe playing environment. As a part of the initiative, some of the better players have agreed to ditch their regular partners and make themselves available as partners for any members who wish to play on Monday afternoon (October 12) or Wednesday morning. If you want to take advantage of this offer simply turn up at the club and the director will find you a partner, a great opportunity.The club has also invited members who are not yet ready to take the playing plunge to visit the club during these games and observe at their leisure, and this would include a complimentary refreshment at the bar — well worth the trip.People often ask me whether I prefer Teams Bridge or Pairs Bridge, and for me there is no doubt that I prefer Teams, as it is a much purer version of the game and less likely to throw up a random result. At Pairs, so much depends on what the pair you are playing at the table do in the bidding and play, often with you and your partner as silent observers, and you also know that if you get two flat hands against a weak pair you are losing ground to the field. At Teams, the playing ground is much more level and as a result one does not see many surprising results at Teams, especially if one is playing matches of 16-20 boards or more.What I do miss at Teams, however, is the declarer play challenge to try and squeeze every extra trick out of a hand which, in isolation, is one of the most exciting parts of the game for me. This hand came up on BBO yesterday to illustrate that point (Fig 1).2NT was invitational and even though North has only 13 points and a void, the good Diamond suit made up for that and he accepted the invitation.Fearful of leading into declarer’s Heart suit, West decided to attack the unbid major and led the 10 of Spades. Needing the Spade King in dummy for an entry to the Diamonds, declarer won this in hand and played the 10 of Diamonds and then another when West held off. West now switched to a Heart, and East won the Ace and knocked out the King, but it was too late as declarer made the contract with five Diamonds, one Heart and three Spades. What’s the big deal you say? Well take a look at trick one — the lead places the Spade Jack with East and declarer must take full advantage of this knowledge and must play the 9 of Spades from dummy under the 10 at trick one. Now when the last Diamond is cashed this is how things stand (Fig 2).Now declarer plays the King of Spades and then a low one to the 8 and makes that vital tenth trick for a clear, greedy, well-earned top.Notice that if the Spade holding in dummy at trick eight was K9 there are only three tricks available in Spades, as East would play low both times. This is the cut and thrust of declarer play at Pairs, such a beautiful part of the game.In closing, the Bridge Club informed its members this week that president Ed Betteto had tendered his resignation for personal reasons, and that the board had accepted the resignation in order to assess their options. The board has appointed the extremely capable Wendy Gray, vice-president, to be acting president until the 2021 AGM, so the club continues to be in good hands.I have no doubt that Ed will remain a big supporter of the club and will soon be seen back at the table, as he is among the top players on the island. I am also sure the members will thank him for the time he devoted to the club during his tenure.

Fig 2: the result
<p>Bridge results</p>

Bridge Club results for October 2 to 8

Friday October 2

1. Margie Way/Charles Hall

2. Joyce Pearson/Lorna Anderson

3. Magda Farag/Sheena Rayner

Monday October 5

1. Janice Trott/Julia Patton

2. Gertie Barker/Jane Smith

3. Sue/John Hodge

Tuesday October 6

1. Jean Schilling/Tim Mardon

2. Malcolm Moseley/Mark Stevens

3. Mike/Jo-Ann Dawson

Wednesday October 7

1. Gertie Barker/Jane Smith

2. Tony Saunders/Molly Taussig

3. Greta Marshall/Heather Woolf

Thursday October 8

1. Charles Hall/Stephanie Kyme

2. Peter Donnellan/Lynanne Bolton

3. Elizabeth McKee/Linda Pollett