Not a Good Result for the Declarer 

One of the challenges of writing about bridge is to describe mistakes without being too harsh. The game is fascinating in its difficulty and to play it well can be challenging. I don’t want to discourage people from trying—after all, I’m in the business—but playing cards against opponents whose hands remain hidden leads us to blunders and errors that seem ridiculous when we look at all four hands. Thus, I look for words that describe the opposite of inspiration or epiphany. How about “Declarer became enchanted” or “The defender had a darkening”?

We try to teach principles of play that work well in most situations, and one of these is to lead toward honors instead of away from them. That way if the luck of the deal placed adversely held honors favorably, we are able to take advantage of that placement and make tricks that we might otherwise lose.

The hand today arose in club play recently and illustrates my point. The opening bid of 1 notrump describes a holding of 15 to 17 high card points in a balanced hand, and the bid of 2 hearts by responder is a step in their bidding agreement that instructs opener to bid 2 spades, the suit in rank next over hearts. This device leaves the strong hand the declaring hand and is supposed to be an advantage. My partner in defense led the ace and king and a third round of diamonds, and when in with the queen I led the 8 of spades, trying passivity with no better idea of what to do. Declarer ducked and my partner took his spade queen and got off lead with a club.

Now declarer, if looking at all the hands, could have taken all but one of the remaining tricks and made her contract, but a darkening caused her to play hearts the wrong way and also to lead the small spade away from her king, guaranteeing the loss of two trump tricks. That play is contrary to the best suggested line, and in this case the proper play would have succeeded.

The local bridge community is preparing to play in a tournament this weekend at the AmeriTel Hotel at Cole and Overland. There are events for new players as well as veterans, and everyone is welcome.

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