The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

“The thing about Bridge,” said the Rabbit …

“is that you can get lucky. No matter how good you play at Golf or Tennis or Billiards, you aren’t going to beat the pro. But in bridge sometimes your mistakes work out. And,” he added in a lower voice, “sometimes you get all the cards. The experts really hate that.”

I’ve been playing with Roxie recently, and we’ve been doing OK but — contra the Rabbit — you can also get unlucky. In the morning session we bid a decent slam If my club jack is in diamonds, its cold. If diamonds break, its cold. Neither is true. I’m also playing against a national champion, so no misdefense. After six tricks everyone just shrugs, we all know its down one. We did well enough to scratch, but there had been warnings. Novices getting to the right contracts. Diabolical suit splits. I should have paid attention.

Playing in the evening session (against a strong married couple) I picked up

S: Axx H: x D: AKQJxxx C: xx

RHO in first seat opened 3 Spades. Well, there was nothing to it. While 3 NT could go down quite a bit on a heart or club lead, why should LHO lead a heart or club after her partner bid spades? Unless she had a solid suit (or near so), I figured I’d get a spade lead and on said lead I figured to make eight tricks.

And — as thee saying goes — where there are eight tricks, there are usually nine.

So I bid 3NT. LHO passed and Roxie seemed to have a bit of a problem. Eventually she bid 6 Hearts, and RHO passed.

Roxie could have transferred to hearts and asked me something, but she’d set the contract. No doubt she had a void to shoot a slam, and I had more than a strong suspicion that void was diamonds. My hand would not be particularly welcome, I thought. If hearts didn’t break we could easily lose a heart and some other things. But it would be a grave breach to pull her bid to 6 NT. The stiff heart would be a sad note, but two small would be normal, so perhaps the suit would play for no losers. Still, I considered bidding, but passed.

When RHO tabled his card I said as I put down dummy: “Sometimes nobody does anything wrong and yet you get a ludicrous result.” I could see how the play went. RHO would lead a spade and Roxie would have to take some number of discards on diamonds, her sole entry to dummy being hit. But likely she could only cash two or three diamonds, not the four (or perhaps seven) tricks I had thought my hand worth.

But RHO had tabled …. the nine of clubs!

I put down dummy and it went small small to Roxie’s Ten. She then played down the AKQ of hearts. LHO followed twice and RHO followed three times. Roxie then played another heart, both opponents pitching spades. Roxie played another heart ….

“Diamonds Break,” RHO said helpfully. LHO started to put her hand away, but neither of them quite conceded the rest of the tricks and slowly it dawned on everyone that there was a reason that Roxie hadn’t claimed the rest, and so they pulled their hands back to their chest.

It may help to see Roxie’s hand:

S: — H: AKQxxxxx D: — C: AQTxx

After leading out her hearts Roxie had to lead a small club. RHO showed out. LHO won and returned a club, letting Roxie take the marked finesse but with clubs breaking 5-1 there was still a club to be lost.

Off one.

“What you said when you put down dummy, how did you know” asked RHO.

“Signs,” I said. “And Portents.”

Update — I’ve been informed that partner was in fact 8-5 instead of 7-6 (which doesn’t really change the play. I have updated the above). And in fact 6 hearts can be made. After winning the club cheaply Roxie plays the AK of hearts then the ace of clubs. If RHO trumps the club, he is endplayed and must give access to dummy. If not, Roxie plays her deuce of hearts to endplay him. (You play the ace of clubs first in case RHO has 9x of clubs).

Written by taogaming

October 9, 2021 at 7:55 pm

Posted in Bridge

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