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Why Me?


Why Me?

by Steve Bruno


          My partner and I drove to Las Vegas to compete in a series of  daily one-session knockout events at the Las Vegas Regional. Fortunately for us, there was always a one-session Swiss team event in the evening for us to compete in so we couldn’t get away to the tables to gamble all night long. On one particular night we had a very good team, so stood at one-and-one going into the third match. On the first board I picked up AJxx, x, AKQ, A105xx.

          My LHO, a timid-looking woman, passed. Partner opened with One Heart  RHO passed and I bid Two Clubs. LHO came to life by bidding Two Spades. Partner bid Three Clubs. RHO passed. I bid Four Clubs which asks for a Roman Keycard response. LHO passed again. Partner bid Four No Trump, which showed two keycards with the queen of trumps. RHO passed. Now I needed to know if he had the HK to provide me with a pitch, in case he had only three clubs. So I bid Five Diamonds, asking for specific Kings. LHO Doubled. Pard bid Five Hearts, showing the Heart King. RHO passed. I bid Five Spades, asking for anything else significant about his hand – like a singleton Spade, for example. LHO passed. Pard bid Seven Clubs, which ended the auction.

     LHO led the Club six. RHO followed with the Club nine. Dummy was x, AKxxx, J10xx, KQJ. Once I avoided the Heart lead, this seemed like an easy hand to make. All I had to do is win the trump in dummy, lead a Spade to my Ace, ruff a Spade, then cash the high trump in dummy, not caring if Clubs broke 3-2 or 4-1, lead a Diamond to my A, draw the remaining trumps and cash out the diamonds. Then lead a Heart to the dummy and cash the two remaining winners in the dummy, pitching my losing Spades to claim thirteen tricks.

     BUT what was the Double of Five Diamonds by LHO? Was it a diamond void? If it was, I couldn’t lead a Diamond to my hand to draw trumps – I’d have to overtake the Club J with my A to draw trumps. BUT what was the Club nine from RHO? Was it a singleton? If so, I couldn’t overtake the Club J in the dummy with my Club Ace. It would set up a winner for LHO, who had started with 876x of Clubs.

          This decision was particularly important because I just knew the players holding our cards at the other table would not reach even a small slam. Lots of IMPs riding on this one. So I stopped to think: Why would the lady double Five Diamonds? She knew she would be on lead. She wasn’t telling herself what to lead, because she didn’t lead a Diamond. Why did RHO play the Club nine? Singleton? Doubleton? Or did she have all four missing clubs? How would you play it?

          I eventually decided LHO had to have a Diamond void to double Five Diamonds since she couldn’t have any Diamond honors. Therefore, Clubs just HAD to break 3-2 for me to make the hand. So I led the Club J from the dummy after ruffing a Spade, planning on overtaking it to draw trumps. RHO followed to the second Club, but LHO did not. So I went down in Seven Clubs.

          I found out that LHO’s original Diamond holding was 8-5 doubleton, Her entire hand was KQ10xxx, Q10xx, 85, 6. I couldn’t help but ask her why she doubled Five Diamonds. She replied, “I knew I was going to be on lead, so I wouldn’t steer partner wrong by asking her to lead a Diamond. I knew you would never play in Five Diamonds, or Five Diamonds Doubled or Five Diamonds Redoubled. So I thought I’d double, just to see if I could confuse you. It could never cost me, I thought”.

          I learned quite a bit from that lady that night. My teammates didn’t learn as much. They were too disappointed in our result to listen to the entire story.

          And the moral of this story is: No matter how good a bridge player you truly are or think you are, there are going to be some hands on which a random opponent could be smarter than you.

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