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Bridge at the Cranmer Club, part 2

Tony was still smiling as they took out their hands for board 8. Tony didn’t smile much, and Aaron was glad to see it. Though he knew it wouldn’t last too long. Aaron was in fourth seat, with no one vulnerable.

Aaron
A64
643
43
K9864
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P

Marvin and Tony both passed and Randy opened 1NT.

“14+ to 17,” Marvin reminded them.

Marvin tried Stayman and then bid 3NT after Randy denied a four-card major.

The 6 looked like the normal lead, and this didn’t seem like an auction calling for anything abnormal. So he put the 6 facedown on the table.

“Any questions?” he asked.

Aaron
A64
643
43
K9864
Dummy
Q105
QJ109
A62
J105

Declarer called for a small club from dummy. Tony won the A and returned the 7, declarer playing the 3 and then the Q. If Tony started with A72, Aaron could duck to maintain communication. Since he had an entry in spades, that didn’t look necessary. It seemed better to win the K and play the 9, a suit-preference signal letting Tony know where to reach him in case he actually held A7 doubleton. With only 17HCP between Aaron and the dummy, Tony had to have at least a queen in addition to the A.

On the return of the 9, Randy won the J in dummy, pitching a spade from his hand, and played the Q, overtaking with the A. The next eight tricks were run off in furious succession, as Randy cashed three more heart tricks and five diamonds, conceding the last trick to Aaron’s A.

"Making four,” Randy said, putting his hand back in the board.

“You have the A?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.”

“Spade switch at trick three sets this contract,” Tony growled, putting his hand back.

“You have KJxx?” asked Aaron. Tony grunted and nodded.

Aaron
A64
643
43
K9864
Marvin
Q105
QJ109
A62
J105
Tony
KJ73
752
1095
A72
Randy
982
AK8
KQJ87
Q3
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
5
A
3
2
0
1
7
Q
K
10
0
0
2
9
J
2
2
1
1
2
Q
2
A
3
3
2
2
K
4
9
5
3
3
2
8
6
10
7
1
4
2
J
5
8
4
1
5
2
A
10
8
4
1
6
2
2
9
K
3
3
7
2
Q
6
6
3
3
8
2
J
4
5
7
3
9
2
7
8
10
J
3
10
2
9
A
Q
K
0
10
3
N/S +430
13

“How am I supposed to know that?” Aaron asked. “I have a suit and an entry, and you have a card somewhere. A spade switch is only right if you have this exact holding.”

“It’s also right if I have king-fourth. We don’t set it, but we hold it to three. You know declarer has at most three spades. And probably only two clubs. And three hearts. That gives him five diamonds, and you know a hook in either red suit is on if I have the Q or the K. So he’s got five diamond tricks and four heart tricks just waiting there as soon as he gets in. Especially if we give him an extra dummy entry in clubs. The only way the club is right is when I have a sure red-suit trick: either the A or the K.”

Tony was not happy. And, as usual, it looked like he was right.

“Everybody in the room is going to continue clubs at trick three,” Aaron said, knowing it was a weak argument.

“Our goal shouldn’t be to emulate our competition in this room,” Tony said dismissively.

Aaron was embarrassed he hadn’t even considered playing a spade at trick three. He had done a quick count of declarer’s points and figured Tony had a card somewhere outside clubs, but he hadn’t thought to count declarer’s tricks. There were just so many things to count!

Marvin and Randy kept quiet. Good players, Aaron noted, didn’t gloat after a favorable result courtesy of an opponent’s mistake — unless they had contrived to induce the mistake. And, as Aaron had noted, as good a result as it may be double-dummy, it looked like an average board in practice, especially in this field.

To be continued...

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