Friday, August 27, 2010

The (Doe) Rabbit visits the club (part I)

I had another interesting daytime bridge experience recently.  During a three-board sit-out (when we were bumped), I kibitzed boards that we had already played (I was South) and became increasingly impressed by the player that was sitting in my seat at the next table.  On the first board, a run-of-the-mill 3NT by East, our hand held ♠A432 J942 JT8 ♣Q8.  The auction had proceeded 1NT (12-14) – 2♣ (Stayman) – 2 – 2NT (balanced invitation) – 3NT, all pass.  Nothing looked appealing and at my table I lead a prosaic 2 chosen in preference to the deuce of spades on the grounds that, in order for my lead not to cost a trick outright, partner will need to contribute the Q, T or 8 whereas a spade lead would typically require partner to have the K or perhaps four small for my lead to give nothing away.  Dummy fielded ♠J6 Q753 K3 ♣AJ952 and, somewhat surprisingly declarer went up with dummy's Q.  Partner took the A and returned the T (a sensible looking play, though not the best in practice as we had two spades to cash) which declarer took with the K.  Declarer then rattled off ten tricks in the minors, everything behaving beautifully and conceded the last trick to partner's K and my A of ♠.  That was good for 3.5 matchpoints out of 11.

In the replay, my counterpart took a different approach to the hand, leading a deceptive ♠3.  North produced the K (note to self!) and RHO won the third spade with the Q (all following except dummy) and then played to make the rest of the tricks.  Five rounds of clubs followed on which our hand pitched a deceptive 8 followed by two hearts, declarer pitched the 6K and the hand opposite pitched the T8.  Declarer now set about the diamonds starting the K from dummy.  All followed with small cards except our hero who played the J.  The small diamond from dummy was led and second hand played a small card.  Declarer was at the crossroads.  Our hand was now down to ♠2 J9 T ♣–.  From declarer's point of view our hand had come down to two spades, a heart (possibly the A) and one other red card.  RHO reasoned that some other declarers might have received a heart lead instead of a spade and that he was therefore behind the field.  That being the time to take risks, he now finessed into our bare T.  Declarer got one more diamond at the end, but the mystery South's deception had set a cold contract which resulted in 10.5 out of 11 matchpoints.

Who was this South, I wondered?  Was it Zia disguised in drag?  Or perhaps the Doe Rabbit who, with fingers sticky from chocolate almond biscuits, had detached the ♠3 instead of the ♠2 by mistake?  But, in that case, how do we explain the absolutely brazen diamond plays?

To be continued...

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