Bridge: Competing in pairs

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The Independent Culture
IF YOU ask any rubber bridge player what he does when an opening bid of One Spade on his left is passed round to him and he holds SK6 H8 DQJ1076532 C96, the answer is easy - pass] In a pairs competition, however, there is more incentive to compete. This was the full deal from the recent European Community Bridge Championships.

North-South game; dealer South

North

S 7 4

H 10 6 5 4

D K 8

C 10 8 7 4 2

West

A J 10 8

7 3 2

9 4

K J 5 3

East

K 6

8

Q J 10 7 6 5 3 2

9 6

South

Q 9 5 3 2

A K Q J 9

A

A Q

Whether as East you protect with Two Diamonds, Three Diamonds or Four Diamonds, North-South will reach Four Hearts, leaving you wishing that you had left them alone in One Spade.

The defence to Four Hearts, however, is interesting. Suppose that West (with his strong spade holding) finds the best lead of a trump. Declarer wins and concedes a spade to West, who leads a second trump. The next spade lead is won by East's king and he has no more trumps to lead. This gives declarer time to ruff spades in dummy, discard his queen of clubs on the king of diamonds, and so come to 11 tricks.

The key play, apparently never found by any of the East players, is to discard the king of spades on partner's second trump lead] Now the second spade is won by West, who can now lead a third trump and so hold declarer to 10 tricks.

At our table my partner held the East cards and, like so many others, took action when One Spade came round to her. Eventually she saved in Five Diamonds. Doubled, this looked a certain two off but the defenders led hearts at every opportunity when they got in with top trumps.

Now the remaining trumps saw South being squeezed out his spade guard. The defenders never came to their ace of clubs and losing only 100 points proved an excellent score for East-West.

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