Friday, 11 February 2011

Bridge players come in all ages, shapes and sizes, not to mention different levels of skill and ability. Yet at the end of the day they can classified into two distinct groups : those who can and those who can't. The following hand illustrates the extent of the gulf between them.
North held : KJ10xx.....AKxxx...QJ....x
South held : AQ8......QJ10.....Axx.....Kxxx
West had all the outstanding honours in his 2-3-3-5 distribution, while his partner was looking down at her 3-2-5-3 yarborough.
Anyway, " those who can't " either ended up in a timid 4S scrambling it home with a trick a spare, or the more sensible 6S going one off and blaming bad luck for their misfortune. Their typical line of play was to eventually take the ten tricks on offer in both majors, pinning their early hopes on East holding either the king of diamonds or the Ace of clubs. Sadly, for them, both these cards were both off-side with the slam doomed to fail.
So now it was the turn of those who can.....and who better to demonstrate the art of playing sensible bridge than myself. Having read everything there is to know about dummy reversals, it was obvious to me right from the start that this line of play was necessary if the risky diamond finesse was to be avoided. Even when a mean and crafty West kicked off with a trump lead, I was still able to put my plan into action.
The lead had to be taken in dummy, in order to lead a club up to the king. It inevitably lost to West's Ace and another trump was fired back which I needed to win in hand. Next came a club ruff, a low heart to my 10, another club ruff, and another heart back to my jack, followed by a final club ruff with dummy's last big trump ( East discarding a useless diamond ).
It was a simple matter now to return to hand with the diamond Ace, extracting East's last spade, and lobbing away dummy's losing diamond in the process. Dummy of course was now high once the heart queen was overtaken by the Ace.
( It was vital for me to return to hand using hearts first, because if I didn't East would throw a heart away on the fourth round of clubs. This would mean I couldn't use a heart now to get back to hand to extract the last trump, since East would have ruffed in. )
Mind you, another player in the " those who can " category did pull off the slam by playing off all his winners in both majors for the first 10 tricks, ending in dummy. West had given the show away by appearing to be ill at ease when having to make discards after trick 5. Eventually, he had to decide between keeping the Kx of diamonds and the stiff Ace of clubs, or baring the king of diamonds so as to keep the AQ of clubs. Declarer had no choice but to keep Ax of diamonds and the king of clubs. At it happened West elected to bare the king of diamonds, and in doing so cursed his misfortune when the alert declarer played the Ace at trick 11.
Often the beauty of this game is in its simplicity.

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