The Beauty of a Bridge Hand

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

First, a bidding problem to warm you up to the hand.  Playing lunchtime bridge
with Carol on your right, Rick on your left and David as your partner, with
nobody vulnerable, you pick up this nice 22-point hand,
    AQ976    A    AJ6    AQJ9

Carol, the dealer on your right, opens the bidding one heart.  You're way too
strong to just overcall, so you double.  The auction continues
 Carol       You        Rick       David
========   ========   =========   ========
1 Heart    Double     1 Spade       Pass
Pass       ???

Now what?  Nobody's vulnerable.  Seems reasonable to double again.  Partner
must be very short in spades and may be long in hearts.  Let's see what happens.

 Carol       You        Rick      David
========   ========   =========   =====
1 Heart    Double     1 Spade     Pass
Pass       Double     2 Hearts    Pass
Pass       ???

And now?  At the time, Richard again doubled and the auction finished with

 Carol       You        Rick        David
========   ========   =========   ==========
1 Heart    Double     1 Spade     Pass
Pass       Double     2 Hearts    Pass
Pass       Double     Pass        3 Diamonds
Pass       Pass       3 Hearts    Pass
Pass       Double     All Pass

Here's the whole hand.
Rick                Carol (declarer in 3 Hearts Doubled)
-----               -----
J83                 KT
T98543              KQJ72
95                  K42
72                  K65

Yes, I psyched a spade!  What a joker!  You could have left them in one spade
undoubled, but that's only 50 for each undertrick.
Defending 3 hearts, you're endplayed at trick one and every time you win a trick.
Richard started with the diamond ace and could have saved himself one endplay by
cashing the heart ace at trick 2, but didn't.  He wound up getting one spade trick,
one heart, one diamond and two clubs for down one and plus only 100.

But look at the whole hand and appreciate the beautiful way it plays if you
could ever get to 6 spades.

With the likely heart lead, you're stuck in your hand, so you decide to
just bang down the spade ace.  You notice the spade ten on your right.
You're missing just 18 HCPs and Carol opened, so you place her with KT
doubleton and exit a spade.  Sure enough, she wins her now-singleton king.

David ----- 5 - QT873 T843 Rick Carol (who just won her spade king) ----- ----- J - 98543 KQJ7 95 K42 72 K65 You ---- Q97 - AJ6 AQJ9 Any return by Carol gives up the rest of the tricks! * A heart return allow you to ruff in dummy, while you throw ... Careful now! You need to carefully discard an intermediate club honor. And again, you need to play carefully. Lead the diamond queen. If Carol covers, it's all over. You win the Ace, pull trump, play your jack and last diamond back to dummy's good diamonds, finessing in clubs at the end. So say she doesn't cover the diamond queen. You play your jack(!) and lead the diamond ten for a second finesse, smothering east's 9. If she covers, you play as above, so let's say she holds off a second time. You now have no more diamond losers, so now you finesse in clubs, again carefully leading the club ten (this is why you discarded the club honor at trick 3), staying in dummy for a second finesse. If Carol covers the club ten, you have no club losers. You pull trump and your hand is good. If she ducks, you finesse again, ending up in your hand to pull the last trump and again, your hand is good. Notice the beauty of your and dummy's minor suit spots as well as East's (Rick's) doubleton in both minors, so he can't ruff. You wind up in your hand in just enough time to pull trump. * If instead of a heart at trick 4, Carol returns a low diamond, you again need to be careful. Play your jack and win dummy's queen. This allows you to lead the ten and play as described above. Playing a low diamond from your hand will wind you up in your hand on the second diamond trick regardless if Carol covers or not, and you're then unable to get back to dummy to finesse in clubs. * If Carol exits with the diamond king at trick 4, your life is easier. Win the ace, pull trump and run dummy's diamonds, finessing in clubs at the end, similar to above. * Similarly, a low club exit by Carol at trick 4 allows you to reach dummy where you can again finesse in diamonds twice, (dummy's queen, you unblocking your jack, then dummy's ten), then finesse in clubs a second time, reaching your hand at just the right moment (before East can ruff a minor suit) to finish pulling trump, and claim. * And lastly, if Carol exits with the club king at trick 4, win your ace, pull trump, get to dummy with the club ten in order to finesse in diamonds twice as described above. What a beautiful hand!