A Difficult Hand 

We played this interesting hand in a club session recently and had the misfortune to encounter a pair who defended well. When my unlucky partner responded one notrump to my opening bid of one diamond, I bid game because we seemed to have plenty of points, but the play and defense demonstrated that points are not everything.

South made the natural lead from his hand of a small spade, not wanting to lead away from his diamond honors and noting that spades had not been mentioned in the auction. When declarer ducked the lead to her hand, the north defender won his queen and saw that continuing spades would accomplish nothing good for his side, so he made the effective switch to his diamond two. Now the defenders were able to gather four diamond tricks and the ace of hearts in addition to their spade trick and set the hand two tricks, a bad result for us but one we shared with other pairs.

Looking at the hand diagram, one would think there were plenty of tricks if declarer had taken the first spade trick on the board, unblocked the ace-king of clubs and then led a heart toward the queen. If the north player is alert, this line will meet a similar fate as the other line of play, losing one heart to the ace and four diamond tricks. If north ducks the heart, declarer is off and running, scoring five more club tricks and another spade to score up 10 tricks. One pair attained that result in the game. One other team scored 600 points by bidding and making five clubs, possibly on a lead from the ace-queen of diamonds. I can't figure out any other way the contract would make on an ordinary line of play. You would always seem to have three losers in the heart ace and the diamond ace-queen.

This difficult hand is a good example of the challenges of playing duplicate bridge. We may not always solve the problem, but we are having the time of our lives playing the game.

We would like to recognize some local players who have reached a new milestone. Doris Giardina of Caldwell and Kendra Bridges and Lois Watson of Boise are now Silver Life Masters, having earned 1,000 master points. Congratulations Doris, Kendra and Lois.

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