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Impressions At the Bridge Table

Bridge-159

 The truism that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression should never blind one to the fact that it is proper subsequent actions and behavior that leave a good lasting one. This applies to bridge too. We are all human and make mistakes, but annoyance at ourselves for an error made in the early play of a hand should not blind us to opportunities for winning lines as the hand develops.

Here is a case in point:

                                 North

♠ A 10 9 8 7 4

J

K 7

♣ A 7 5 2

South

♠ 3

A K 8 7 5 4 3

A 4 3

♣ 9 6

I was sitting South in an online match-point pairs competition and found myself as declarer in a 4 contract after my partner had opened the bidding with 1♠ in the North seat. I received the lead of the J which I unthinkingly won with the K in dummy. In quick succession I cashed dummy's ♠A, ruffed a spade in my hand, won the next trick with the A and ruffed my last diamond with the J on the table. I now led a third round of spades and when East discarded the Q, realized I no longer had enough entries to the table to both get back for another spade ruff to establish dummy's long spades and to subsequently re-enter dummy to enjoy the ♠10 for a discard of my club loser.

I won my eighth trick with dummy's ♣A, conceded a club trick to East's ♣Q and ruffed the ♠J return, leaving my hand with A K 8 7. I now cashed the A, West following with the 9 and East with the heart deuce. I now played the K, hoping to drop the Q but when West showed out, discarding a club, I had to concede the last two tricks to East. Although I had made my contract, I was keenly aware of my failure to make the all-important over-trick, resulting in a relatively poor score for us.

Match-point scoring is based on one's score relative to the results achieved on the same hand by the other North-South pairs: Two points are scored for every pair you beat, one for every pair with whom you tie. In the hand in question, one of the North-South pairs out of the 10 competing made 12 tricks – it's difficult to imagine how – for a score of 18 points out of a maximum of 18, or 100%; two pairs made 11 tricks, for 15 points – 83%; and the rest of us made 10 tricks, getting 7 out of 18, a feeble 39%. Had I made 11 tricks, we would have scored a healthier 14 match-points on the board –­ 78%.

I apologized to my partner for playing too quickly on the first trick, contending that had if I'd won it in my hand with the A, I would have preserved the K in dummy for the extra entry needed. As the cards lay, this would not, in fact, have helped. The full hand was:

      North

      ♠ A 10 9 8 7 4

     J

West

      ♦ K 7 

      East

♠ K Q 6 2

      ♣ A 7 5 2

      ♠ J 5

9

       Q 10 6 2

J 10 9 6 2

       South

      Q 8 5

♣ K 8 4

      ♠ 3

      ♣ Q J 10 3

      A K 8 7 5 4 3

      A 4 3

 

      ♣ 9 6

After winning the first trick in hand, I would have played to the ♠A in dummy and then led a small spade from the table to ruff in my hand. TheK would now provide a second entry to dummy to ruff another spade. However, a wary East would have discarded the Q on the third round of spades so that when I tried to enter dummy once more by ruffing my last diamond with dummy's J, East would have over-ruffed with Q, thereby not only depriving me of the extra entry but, in fact, also killing any chance of my making 11 tricks.

No, actually my real mistake came later. I was so angry with myself for my play to the opening lead, I failed to see that an 11th trick was there for the taking. After entering dummy with the ♣A, I should have led a fourth spade and ruffed in hand for my 9th trick rather than playing a club. I would then still have had the two top hearts for 11 tricks in total.

Even then, I had another chance to recover: Playing as I did to the first 10 tricks, left me with K 8 7 in hand. West had followed with the 9 to my play of the A, so I should now have played the 7. If both opponents had held another heart, I would have won the last trick, my eleventh, with the K. If the hearts didn't break, as was the case, the defender who won the trick with the 10 would have been end-played, having to lead away from the Q, 6 into my K, 8.

That, as it happens, would have given us first place in the tournament. My partner accepted my apology but I was surely left with a less-than-favorable impression of my declarer play.

 

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Saturday, 24 October 2020

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