Bridge and Crossword
Our Gold Cup run came to a sticky end in the semi-final, where we were soundly beaten by the inspired Brock team. Here is Brock’s Neil rosen at the helm, in the first of two tricky Three Notrump contracts from that fateful match.
West did well to stay off Hearts —lead low and declarer is gifted his ninth trick; lead the Ace and East can no longer scoop up the suit by leading his ten. West preferred the seven of Spades.
Declarer won dummy’s Ace and led the ten of Diamonds, preparing to duck the trick into West’s hand (West was the safe hand in terms of a Heart lead). When East covered the ten with the Queen, declarer had to reassess the situation—clearly, East, the danger hand, held the King-queen. He won the Ace and switched tacks.
Plan B required West to have precisely three Spades headed by the Queen, together with no second Diamond to put his partner in for the Heart lead through declarer’s Queen. Declarer led a low Spade.
If West had played the Queen, declarer would have ducked, leaving West powerless. When West played low, declarer won dummy’s King and led a third Spade. As he hoped, it was West who won the trick.
West could only exit a Club and let declarer score nine tricks via five Clubs, a Diamond and (crucially) three Spades.
The nail in our coffin was captain Sally Brock making our second Three Notrumps.
West led the Knave of Hearts, declarer successfully finessing dummy’s Queen. At trick two, she (1) No point in mentioning Spades, as partner can’t hold four cards; further, North is keen to tell partner about his Heart stopper(s). (2) Near maximum (for his 6–9 point bid) with a potential trick source. led a low Spade from dummy, East playing low to preserve his Ace-knave, declarer winning the Queen. Declarer now led a Diamond to dummy’s Ace (no risky deep finesse at this stage), then followed with a Club to the Queen.
This is a very elegant line, for what can West do? If he wins the King of Clubs, declarer can win his Heart return and lead a Club to the ten. The Ace of Clubs that follows picks up the suit and two long Clubs (plus the King of Diamonds) can be enjoyed. Nine tricks —via a Spade, two Hearts, two Diamonds and four Clubs.
West therefore ducked the Queen of Clubs. With her second Club trick secured, declarer merely needed four Diamond tricks and the game was hers. She led her nine of Diamonds, West playing low (best).
It was very close whether to rise with the Ace and lead a third Diamond, winning when East holds a doubleton honour, or to play dummy’s ten, winning here, when West holds Queen-knavesmall-small.
Mrs Brock did the right thing, playing the ten of Diamonds. It was now a simple matter to cash the King and give up a Diamond. West won and led a second Heart, but declarer could win dummy’s Ace, cash the fifth Diamond and cross to her Ace of Clubs.
Nine tricks made—via one Spade, two Hearts, four Diamonds and two Clubs.
Mrs Brock lost the final to Simon Gillis’s team. Very well done to both teams.