Independent Pursuits: Bridge

"WHAT DID you do on board 19?" It was a typical start to the conversation after a session in a big pairs event. "Not too well," said the first player "East played in 3NT and, rather foolishly, I led 2Q. Now they made 10 tricks and minus 630 was well below average. What about you?"

"I opened a 12-14 no-trump with the South hand, West doubled, and all passed. West led 46 and, hoping for the best, I tried dummy's 4Q. When this held, I was able to finesse in clubs and take five tricks in the suit. I think that minus 100 must have been a top."

Then they turned to the third player who looked even smugger than the second. "I also played in 1NT doubled and got the same led of 46. But I played low from dummy and won East's nine with my king. Then I led 410, and West, after brooding for a bit, ducked. Dummy's queen won, and now the five club tricks gave me my contract!"

That was certainly a top, although en route declarer had risked a vast penalty. There were two points of technical interest - clearly East-West would have done better to go for their vulnerable game rather than take the 500 points that best defence would have given them. And, in the play, East's contribution of 49 at trick 1 was rather futile. He would have done better to follow with 42 to suggest three cards in the suit rather than a possible doubleton.

East-West game; dealer South

North

4Q 8 5 4

!8 7 2

#9 5 3

26 4 2

West East

4A J 7 6 49 3 2

!A Q 10 !K 9 4 3

#A Q J #K 8 7 6

210 8 7 2K 9

South

4K 10

!J 6 5

#10 4 2

2A Q J 5 3

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