Browse By

Another Trick

You might be interested in the attached story. I could call it “How to lose at Rubber Bridge”. Some of you will be taking part in the Rubber Bridge NZ wide competition but even if not you may be interested in this story. It will also be sent to the subscribers to “Thirteen Tricks”.
Hope you enjoy it.

Here is an interesting deal which came up in a closely contested rubber bridge game. It was the last of 30 hands to be played and NS had a lead of 280 points. Neither side had a game, therefore the conditions of the contest dictated what needed to happen on this final deal: EW had to score 300 points to win. They could do that by bidding and making a game, which, added to the one-game-in bonus of 200 would put them ahead. Or, they could score 300 for defeating a doubled NS contract by two. Of course, NS weren’t going to bid and risk that, or were they?

North was the dealer and after two passes, South opened 1NT! Was that crazy or what? You may think so, but South’s reasoning was logical: North would have passed with anything so did not necessarily have a poor hand. East had no reason to bid unless he had an opening bid. If both North and East had genuine passes, then West was going to open and no doubt EW would then bid to game no matter what. If North had the points, no harm would come to South in 1NT, but if West had them, the 1NT bid by South could prove to be difficult to handle. Why give EW a free run by passing? In fact South’s hand was just bad enough to warrant a tactical 1NT opening bid! West now had a choice: bid 3NT or double 1NT. Let’s see the hands as they were:

Dealer N Nil Vul


West, indeed, did have a good hand and doubled South’s 1NT. East had no reason to bid anything and everyone passed. South was prepared to take his punishment. West started with the lead of the diamond seven. This went round to South’s king and he laid down the queen of clubs. Whether or not West covered, South now had six tricks after taking the four clubs and then the ace of hearts, and happily conceded the rest for down one. This was the conversation afterwards:

South: “Have you not read my recommendations for opening leads against No Trumps? Imagine what might have happened if you had led the ace of spades, which is one possible lead from your holding according to our own agreed leads. We have very specific agreements about opening leads, which includes the lead of an ace against No Trumps to be from a number of possible holdings, because an ace specifically asks for attitude. One of the possible holdings when the ace is led is specifically AQx . Look what would have happened if we had your cards. Against 1NT doubled, you would lead the ace of spades, and when East signals encouragement, continue with the queen. But just four spade tricks aren’t enough to defeat 1NT, and you needed to defeat it by at least two. Therefore you needed as many tricks as you could muster. And, knowing West’s exact spade holding, there was some hope. When West continues with the queen of spades, East overtakes with the king. He knows spades are breaking 3-3 so overtaking costs nothing but gives East a vital entry.

East now switches to the queen of diamonds, seeing dummy’s weakness. Declarer covers with the king and West wins the ace. Knowing that East has the jack of spades, West leads a spade to East and East now cashes the thirteenth spade. The nine of diamonds follows, through declarer’s ten. That would be a total of eight tricks for the defence and down two. Enough for the needed 300. But of course, if your defence is not perfect, perhaps you should have simply bid 3NT. There is only one way to defeat 3NT played by West, and that is a heart lead to South’s ace and an immediate switch to the queen of clubs, hardly a likely defence. With any other defence, you could have played the hand the same way I suggested you could have defended it, and YOU would have made four spade tricks and four diamond tricks plus the inevitable heart if I had returned a heart at trick two. Not even I would have been brave or clever enough to switch to the queen of clubs.

Sometimes defending is certainly much easier than being declarer but that depends on which side of the fence you’re sitting, don’t you think?”