Marcus Witt of Stamford Bridge Club writes: On October 10, we played our annual Ashes Challenge match online against Beaumont Bridge Club (Adelaide, South Australia) and won by a narrow margin of 66-54 victory points. Congratulations to the six teams that participated and we now lead the series 2-1.
These matches began in 2020, during the pandemic, and have proven to be a welcome addition to our event schedule.
Hand of the week
Today’s hand was presented in a recent supervised play session on Wednesday morning and caught most of the North-South. Many tables did not reach play and only two declarers (out of 12) made 10 tricks. West leads S3, taken by East’s ace. East returns the queen of spades. South may think this is easy as the 10 tricks will come from a spade (king), six hearts, two diamonds and a club.
But there is a catch and it hinges on preserving the integrity of the king of spades. It would be an automatic reaction to cover the queen of spades with the king, but West will ruff and declarer has nowhere to turn. There are only nine winners left. The solution is to dodge the queen of spades! East can continue with the jack of spades but declarer ducks again. West can cut that in front of dummy, with the H6 winning, but it’s the third and final winner for the defense.
Declarer has ensured that the king of spades takes a trick and the 10th winner is in the bag. There was a clue in the bid – East had shown a six-card spade flush, so it was inevitable that West could cut a continuation of the flush. That said, even if East West were silent in the bidding, not playing the king of spades on the second and third tricks would have been correct (although less obvious).
It’s something of a “manual” hand, but it shows that thoughtful play brings its just reward.
It’s a good idea to take a pessimistic approach to certain hands and ask yourself “what could go wrong?” “. Here it was crucial to make sure the king of spades landed a trick. This could only be achieved by not playing the king on the turned queen on turn two. Similar reasoning was needed at Trick Three. Stop and think and don’t be too eager to play the automatic, the reflex (and here, failing that).