A Bridge Phantasmagoria
You may have heard it said, “If you cannot play you can always write” and it has come to my ears that such a calumny has been leveled at me of all people.
I have just won an individual contest in which I was not lumbered with the same poor partner all night, and I am in a fortunate position to refute that unfounded allegation, which no doubt was inspired by pure jealousy. In evidence, I submit to you a number of top scores I was able to engineer in this contest, in which I was an easy first. To make it easier to follow, I will always show my hands in the South position, although I varied from South to West.
Defence is generally regarded as the most difficult part of the game, so here I am in action.
Game all: East deals
East opened One Club and I butted in with One Spade, which forces the next opponent to the two level. Despite this, West was foolish enough to bid up to 3NT, which strangely was otherwise made all round the room.
My partner led a spade, which I could have won with the ace. I was subtler than that. I inserted the jack, luring him to take his king, but he was not having any of that. It was at this point that other Souths concluded that the spade suit was a dead duck and made a quite creditable switch to the jack of diamonds, hoping to find partner at home in that suit. That was good, but not good enough, and West had no further troubles.
However I continued with the ace and then the two of spades to bring down the king and give my partner an exact count of my six card spade suit. Naturally my partner discarded the ace of clubs and now instead of making four club tricks, West could only make two without letting me into the lead.
The opponents congratulated my partner as if he had done something wonderful but I ask you, “How could he have made a simple unblocking play if I had not led a third spade?”
When it comes to bidding, the two hands that follow will demonstrate that I am no slouch. On the first I was the only one to bid the grand slam and on the second I was the only one to stay out of a small slam. That meant two complete tops.
East-West game: South deals
I opened 2NT.Some people say that you should have every suit stopped, but it would be very bad luck if partner could not cover the diamonds. He responded Three Spades (for some reason he did not use a transfer). Not liking the idea of him playing the hand, I reverted to 3NT. He continued with Four Diamonds and now I had to give him Four Spades to show support. When he now leapt to Six Spades, without further ado, I must and did make it Seven Spades.
East led the queen of clubs and he just sat there as if he had no idea what to do. I felt like a drink and asked a spectator to sit in as dummy. On the way out, I had a quick peek at his hand. Five spade tricks. Four heart tricks and four tops in the minors. What was the man thinking off? An overtrick?
Mark you, on second thoughts, players have been known to lose a trick with such a trump combination.
He had not even finished the hand by the time I got back. I took over as dummy and somehow, he had contrived to bring about this ending. (Someone told me later that he had actually ruffed a good heart)
He led the three of clubs and to prevent a cheap ruff in dummy, West ruffed with the jack. My partner overruffed with the king and finessed for the queen on the way back.
“I have made it,” he cried excitedly. “Why not, you have got to bid them,” I said to remind him that it was I who had bid the grand.
Now here is the other side of the picture.
East-West game: South deals
I opened One spade and when partner jumped to Three Hearts I rebid my spades to show five. He raised to Four Spades, which of course I passed, as I only had a king in excess of an opener. My partner failed to understand how I could pass, but events proved me right, as I had to lose a trump and a heart.
An examination of the score sheet revealed that two idiots had actually bid to a grand.
Finally I show you two examples of my dummy play, which has been described as quite extraordinary.
Game all, South deals.
I opened One Heart and West overcalled Two clubs. When my partner raised to Two Hearts, I boldly bid the small slam.
West led the king of clubs. My partner started to lay his cards on the table, showing two small clubs, so I called for a small club. Apologising profusely, he belatedly revealed the ace of clubs, but East unsportingly insisted that a small club had been played. Fortunately, I was able to ruff.
I drew trumps in two rounds and led the six of spades. West ducked and when the queen won, it suddenly came to me that I could discard the king of spades on the ace of clubs, so I did just that. I now surrendered a diamond and was able to ruff two diamonds in dummy to bring home the slam.
West pointed out to his partner that it would not help to pop up with the ace of spades as there would be three diamond discards, two on the spades and one on the ace of clubs. He also remarked to his partner, “Stickler for the rules, are you?”
My partner smilingly congratulated me in not going up with the ace of clubs at trick 1. “Standard procedure,” I said in my laid-back style
The last hand had safety play overtones.
North-South game: East deals.
I opened One Club, which my partner alerted before he bid One spade. I rebid One No-trump, which he immediately raised to three, saying that he badly needed points, and I did not disappoint him.
West led a club, which I was able to win with the jack. I led a heart to the ace and finessed the jack on the way back. Unluckily, the queen did not fall to the king, so I turned my attention to the spades. Small to the king and back to the ace dropped the queen and I had my nine tricks.
My opponents at once quizzed me on my play of the spades and I had to confess that I had temporarily overlooked the safety play in hearts of king then ace and small to the jack, and that I was not going to make the same mistake in spades.
They started to quibble that I did not have a third spade but I could tell from my partner’s exclamation of affection, that he appreciated my methods.He said “Oh Brother.”