I’ve butchered hands before. No big deal. But it’s bad to massively mess up the first one of the day. And it’s even worse when your partner is someone you’ve given mucho bucks to for bridge lessons. This is how Saturday started at the Airport Bridge Club, with club manager Bill Finkelstein in the opposite chair until substitute Ruth Hnath arrives.
It’s Board 7. Both sides vulnerable, South is dealer. I’m sitting North. Bill opens a Club. Ross Markello, sitting West, passes. I’m holding this:
Spades: 10-9-5-3-2; Hearts: A-Q-J-5
Diamonds: 9-8-6-3; Clubs: None
So I bid the Spade. Bill rebids the Clubs. I try 2 Hearts. Bill jumps to 4 Hearts. And there we are. Paula leads the Jack of Diamonds and here’s the dummy:
Spades: 8; Hearts: K-6-3-2
Diamonds: A-K; Clubs: Q-10-7-6-5-2
Clearly, it’s going to take a cross-ruff to make this work. Eight tricks from the cross-ruff. Two Diamonds. I take the first Diamond trick with the Ace and play the King of Diamonds. Big mistake. East is out of Diamonds. She ruffs, leads a Spade, taken by West, who leads another Diamond. Paula ruffs with the 7 of Hearts and I’m stuck with a choice between losing the trick or playing the King. At any rate, it’s a disaster. I’m down three and Bill is declaring that he can’t believe I ever took a lesson from him. Set up the Clubs, he says, then draw trump.
The other hands:
Spades: A-Q-7-4; Hearts: 9-7-4
Diamonds: J; Clubs: A-9-8-4-3
Spades: K-J-6; Hearts: 10-8
Diamonds: Q-10-7-5-4-2; Clubs: K-J
Yes, it was indeed a bottom board, a big fat zero. Top was the pair who bid 4 Hearts and made it. John Ziemer, watching me copy it down, said he bid 3 Hearts and that was all he made. (So it’s not guaranteed, after all. Then again, Bill noted that I shouldn’t have bid 2 Hearts unless I had 11 high card points, so we shouldn’t have been there at all.) (John Ziemer also had a comment about the hand in Blog 621 – see the insert there.) Meanwhile, a 2 No Trump bid by East went down one. And a 2 Diamond bid by West made exactly 2 Diamonds.