Misplay These Hands With Me


Mark Horton

The Red Dragon

The Welsh Bridge Union Swiss Teams in Llangollen takes place in the middle of November. The venue, the Royal International Pavilion, is just a short walk from the town center and plays host to a number of major events throughout the year, not least the world-famous Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

My partner has made the long journey from Sante Fe and has his eye on a finish in the top three. As the Russian proverb says, “It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.”

In the opening match I pick up a decent hand as dealer right at the start (both vulnerable):

♠ 8
A 8 7 4 3
A 6
♣ A K Q 4 3

I open 1, West passes and my partner jumps to 3, which we play as an old-fashioned limit raise. The technical bid now is 4♣, hoping to see partner bid 4. Aiming to keep everyone in the dark, I bid 4NT to ask for key cards. When partner bids 5♠, promising two key cards plus the trump queen, I can place him with the ♠A and the K Q. He can hardly have anything else of use, so I settle for 6.

West leads the ♠Q, and partner puts down a borderline hand:

♠ A 7 5
K Q 6
J 9 5 2
♣ 10 9 5

♠ 8
A 8 7 4 3
A 6
♣ A K Q 4 3

Although I am not convinced by our bidding (I would prefer a fourth trump for a jump raise), our hands fit well and this should be a straightforward affair.

I take the spade with dummy’s ace and cash the K and Q, pleased to see both defenders follow. I draw the last trump and start on the clubs, but to my dismay East discards on the second round. I have to lose a club and a diamond so I am one down. The complete deal:

♠ A 7 5
K Q 6
J 9 5 2
♠ Q J 3 ♣ 10 9 5 ♠ K 10 9 6 4 2
10 9 5 J 2
K Q 8 10 7 4 3
♣ J 7 6 2 ♠ 8 ♣ 8
A 8 7 4 3
A 6
♣ A K Q 4 3

Post Mortem

A bad break in trumps would have been fatal, but once both defenders followed to dummy’s high hearts, I could have taken precautions against a possible 4–1 break in clubs. I should leave the last trump outstanding and cash two top clubs. If both opponents follow, I can draw the last trump and claim. If clubs are 4–1 and the player with the singleton club does not have the outstanding trump, I can cash a third club and ruff a club with dummy’s remaining trump. I then return to hand to draw the outstanding trump and cash the established club.

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