Better Bridge Magazine - The Real Deal - March/April 2011 - Deal #12
This “Real Deal” was dealt by Jerry Davis of ALICE TRAVEL. That agency has skillfully arranged many of my bridge cruises, but I wish Jerry had done a better job dealing out this hand. It has caused me headaches. I feel as if any deal can provide lessons (and this one is no exception), but this time I struggled with “how deep to go.”
Let’s get started. South has 18 points, so South is too strong for 1NT, but not strong enough to open 2NT. South opens 1♦, and North scrapes up a 1♥ response. North has only 5 High-Card Points, but it just doesn’t look right to pass 1♦! What should South rebid?
There are two schools of thought here. One idea is to jump rebid 2NT to show a balanced hand with 18–19 points. The other thought is to get the four-card spade suit into the auction. The latter method is more popular, so let’s assume South shows the spades. Should South bid 1♠ or 2♠?
A jump-shift to 2♠ would be game forcing. South is a bit light to insist on game. On the other hand, a rebid of 1♠ with 18 points doesn’t feel like enough. The solution? There is nothing perfect.
I wish they allowed a 1½ spade bid! I would probably bid 1♠ at the table and hope for the best. This rebid, like all non-jump new suit rebids, has a very wide range. It could be a dead minimum, but could be as much as this 18-count.
What will North do over 1♠? Can North Pass? Yes, North can. A new suit rebid by opener is not forcing —unless it is a jump-shift. However, as stated above, it has a very wide range of about 12-18 points, so responder should try hard to keep the bidding alive. Tempting as it is for North to pass, North does have nice support for spades and so should scrape up a 2♠ bid.
That’s all South needs to hear. South has located the major-suit four-four fit, and with a super-maximum goes directly to game with a bid of 4♠.
THE OPENING LEAD
What should West lead? A trump from queen-doubleton is surely out of the picture. Leading declarer’s first bid suit, diamonds, also has no attraction. That leaves the ♥K or a club.
I’m only a so-so fan of leading the king from a kingqueen-empty suit, and given that the opponents have bid the suit, I’d rule out a heart. That leaves the unbid suit, so West leads a low club.
THE PLAY IN 4♠
How should South play the spade game? I like to count losers in a suit contract. It is usually too confusing to count winners (try it on this deal and you’ll go crazy!).
South has no club losers. There are three diamond losers which South can hope to trump in dummy. On a bad day—with the ♠Q in the West hand—South will lose two trump tricks. In the heart suit, South might lose two tricks, but one of the heart losers can be discarded on dummy’s extra club winner.
My plan would be some sort of cross-ruff line. As long as I hold my losers to just the one heart trick, I can afford to lose to the ♠A and ♠Q. I want to ruff diamonds in dummy and will need to be able to get back to my hand many times. Accordingly, I will win the ♣A, and at trick two play the ♦A and ruff a diamond. Then back to the—carefully preserved —♣Q to ruff another diamond. In dummy, I can now discard a heart on the ♣K. Next comes a heart to the ace to play the last diamond, the ♦J, in this position:
Declarer has taken the first seven tricks. No matter what West does, declarer has to make the contract. If West ruffs in with the ♠Q, declarer has three sure spade winners after the ♠A is driven out. If West doesn’t ruff, declarer gets to ruff in dummy for an eighth trick. Declarer can’t be prevented from making two more trump tricks. The duplicate score for making a vulnerable 4♠ game is 620 points.
Remember the two key points.
1) When rebidding, it is better to get your four-card major into the picture than to bypass it.
2) When planning a crossruff, manage your entries properly. (Had South cashed the top clubs from hand early, South would have no way to get back to ruff all of the diamond losers in dummy).
Good bidding and good play produces a very satisfactory +620.
This deal came from Jerry Davis, the president of ALICE TRAVEL. Jerry joined ALICE TRAVEL eighteen years ago. Alice Cohen, the founder, was a legend in the travel field. She was a bridge player living in Florida when she met Bernie Chazen, a bridge champion and teacher, at one of the clubs where she was playing. They became friends and that was the start of the many bridge cruises they did together. Jerry continues the tradition of bridge at sea.
When was Jerry introduced to bridge? “I learned to play bridge during my freshman year at Cornell in the late 50s, when Charles Goren was king. I became so hooked on the game that I played every day in the dorm and the fraternity house. After college, I started my career in retailing, got married, started a family...and the game of bridge became the farthest thing on my mind.”
Now he’s back to bridge. “My wife, Irene, has played social and duplicate bridge for the last five years and I started again recently. We play in a social game once a month with friends, as well as playing duplicate at the Livingston NJ Bridge Club.”
ALICE TRAVEL continues to organize bridge at sea programs with stars such as Larry Cohen, Gail Greenberg, Jeff Hand, Zeke Jabbour, Jerry Helms, and the Staymans.
They’ve kept the spirit of Alice Cohen alive with her love of travel, her fine business sense and her devotion to her customers.