Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bridge Blog 561: Too many aces, too many spaces

Aces are a blessing, but they seemed more like poison pills  on Board 18 in Thursday’s game at the Airport Bridge Club. I had all four of them, plus a Jack, in a relatively balanced hand.
So here’s the set-up. North-south, Bruce Burr and Ross Markello, respectively, are vulnerable. Florence Boyd (East) and I (West) are not. Florence is dealer. She passes. Ross passes. I bid 1 No Trump, although now I see the rationale for opening 1 Diamond and rebidding 2 No Trump.

Spades: A-J-9; Hearts: A-7-4;
Diamonds: A-10-9-6-2; Clubs: A-9.

And everybody passes. It’s mine for 1 NT, for better or worse. Bruce leads the Queen of Hearts and Florence puts down this hand.
Spades: 10-4-3; Hearts: 9-2;
Diamonds: J-3; Clubs: Q-J-10-5-4-2.

I wait out Bruce on the Hearts and win the third round with the Ace. Problem is, I have no good way of getting to the dummy to cash all those long Clubs, so I try to set one up by leading the Jack of Spades. Nothing much works, and I consider myself lucky to take six tricks. Down one.

Spades: K-8-5; Hearts: Q-J-10-8-5;
Diamonds: Q-5; Clubs: 7-6-5.

Spades: Q-7-6-2; Hearts: K-6-3;
Diamonds: K-8-7-4; Clubs: K-8.

At that point, the hand had been played only once, by a pair who bid all the way to 3 NT and went down three. Florence said she couldn’t see bidding with her weak hand, but if she did, it would have to be a relay to 3 Clubs. As I put my cards back into the holder, it seemed like Clubs would only make eight tricks – losing a Club, a Heart, a Diamond and two Spades -- so we’re damned if we stay at 1 NT and damned if we go to 3 Clubs.
Or are we? Our minus 50 score is good for only 3 out of a possible 8 game points. In Clubs, the hand makes nine (thanks to a good finesse for the King of Clubs) or 10 or even 11 tricks, as it turns out, and five pairs bid it successfully. On the other hand, Flo’s pass delivered us from the temptation of trying for game at 3 NT. In all, three pairs went there and they all went down three.

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