ESRAmagazine

Bridge - The Disappearing Trick Act

 In my previous article, "Bids and Pieces", ESRA 176, we discussed the bidding and play of a hand that had arisen in a family bridge game in which a player found himself with a very strong hand opposite his partner's 1NT opening bid. Hands like this are not common, so I was surprised to come across a similar situation in an on-line tournament less than a week after completing the article. I dealt and opened the bidding 1NT. My partner, a lady from Texas, Dene, holding ♠ Q,♥A K 10 8 5, ♦J 7 4 2, ♣ A Q 3, made the Jacoby transfer bid of 2¨, showing at least 5 cards in the heart suit and, incidentally, not more than 3 spades – with both majors she would rather have bid 2♣, Stayman. After I duly responded 2♥, Dene bid 3 ♦, showing her second suit and game-going values. The full bidding was as follows:

South

    West

    North

    East

1 NT

    Pass

    2 ♦

    Pass

2 ♥

    Pass

    3 ♦

    Pass

3 ♠

    Pass

    4 NT

    Pass

5 ♠

    Pass

    6 ♥   

    Pass

Dene's 3 ♦ bid suited my hand very well. I held ♠ A 5 3 2, ♥Q 7 3, ♦A K 6, ♣ K 6 4. With a heart fit, 3 to an honor, the top cards in diamonds and controls in the black suits, I made the encouraging cue bid of 3♠. Dene now bid 4NT, Roman Key-Card Blackwood (RKCB), to which I responded 5♠, showing two Aces and the heart Queen. The final contract was 6 ♥,  with me as declarer in the South seat.

North

♠ Q

♥ A K 10 8 5

♦ J 7 4 2

♣ A Q 3

South

♠ A 5 3 2

♥ Q 7 3

♦ A K 6

♣ K 6 4

West led the ♣J and I won the trick with the ♣A in dummy. I saw that if I could pick up the heart suit without loss, I would have 11 tricks on top – 5 hearts, 3 clubs, 2 diamonds and the spade Ace.. The twelfth trick could come from dummy's ♦J if the suit broke 3-3, or if West held the ♦Q or East held that card singleton or doubleton, so I had around a 75% chance of bringing home the slam. I started drawing trumps immediately by playing the ♣K from dummy. Both opponents followed suit but when I played the next round of hearts, leading from dummy towards my ♣Q, East discarded a small spade. No problem. I could now lead my third heart towards dummy's ♣K, 10 and take the marked finesse against West's ♣J. On the fourth round of hearts, I discarded a small spade. I cashed 2 further club tricks and played ♦A and ♦K. Alas, East held ♦Q, 9, 8, 3 so I couldn't come to a twelfth trick – one down.

We got a very poor score on the hand. When I checked the scoring after the tournament, I saw that most North-South pairs had stayed out of slam but one pair had brought home the 6 ♥ slam. Was it miss-defense? On further examination I saw that the slam could be made. I decided to ask what one of my bridge buddies, Harold, could make of the hand.

First the bidding: The bidding started the same way, 1NT – 2 ♦, but after my 2 ♥ , Harold, having read my ESRA 176 article, jumped to 3♠ to show a strong hand shortage in spades – a singleton or void. This, of course, suited my hand so I cue-bid 4 ♦, showing the Ace and we reached the heart slam. I now gave him the challenge of making the contract without showing him the East-West hands. He was adequate to the task.

The full hand is given below. Can you see how to make the slam?

       North

  

      ♠ Q

      ♥ A K 10 8 5

West

      ♦ J 7 4 2

    East

♠ K J 10 7

      ♣ A Q 3

    ♠ 9 8 6 4

J 9 4 2

     ♥ 6

♦ 10 5

      South

   ♦ Q 9 8 3

♣ J 10 9

    ♠ A 5 3 2

   ♣ 8 7 5 2

     ♥ Q 7 3

     ♦ A K 6

    ♣ K 6 4

Well, Harold remembered that in "Bids and Pieces" the extra trick came from trumping a loser, so he set about making 6 rather than 5 tricks in hearts. He determined that he could do this by trumping his 3 small spades with dummy's small trumps. He won the first trick with the ♣A in dummy and then, in rapid succession, ♠Q to the ♠K in his hand, spade ruff, back to his hand with the ♦K, spade ruff, back again with the ♦A, ruff his last small spade. With 7 tricks won, this was the position:

      North

 

      ♠ -

      ♥ A K

West

      ♦ J 7 

            East

♠ -

      ♣ Q 3

            ♠ -

J 9 4 2

           ♥ 6

♦ -

      South   

          ♦Q 9

♣ 10 9

      ♠ -

         ♣8 7 5

      ♥ Q 7 3

  

      ♦ 6

      ♣K 6

He now played dummy's ♠A and ♠K for tricks 8 and 9. Unfazed by the bad break in hearts – he now had seemingly to lose a diamond and a trump – he crossed to his hand with the ♣K and cashed the heart Queen for a total of 11 tricks. A club to dummy's ♣Q gave him his twelfth trick and the contract. The opponents' ♥ J and ♦ Q winners collided. A case of the disappearing trick.

 

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Thursday, 26 November 2020

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