Bridge and Cross­word

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - An­drew Rob­son

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.

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