Todays deal, No. 5 from the Golden Anniversary Pairs (described in previous columns), illustrates a defensive bidding convention and an important card-play technique. Norths one-notrump opening followed the contemporary school, i.e., 15-17 points instead of the traditional 16-18. (Could this be the bridge players answer to inflation?)
East appears to have lost his senses, but two diamonds was Astro, a convention to show at least nine cards in two suits, one of which must be spades. (The other half of this gadget is a two-club overcall to show hearts and a minor suit.) If you are lost by all this, dont worry. One of the appeals of bridge is that it can be enjoyed just as much through simple bidding perhaps even more so, as fancy bidding can lead to disaster, or more fittingly if this gadget went sour, disastro.
South used good judgment in jumping to game with his exciting distribution, and this bought the contract.
West led the spade five remember, East showed spades and it turned out to be devastating. East won the queen and ace, then led a third spade which allowed West to ruff with the heart nine to force dummy to overruff with the ace. This unconditionally promoted a trump trick for West, whose king normally would be captured by a finesse. Declarer also had to lose a diamond trick and was defeated.
Are you satisfied? Despite the excellent defense, declarer could have succeeded with better play. The loss of a trump trick was unavoidable I dont care how good you are but the diamond loser was not so ordained. By overruffing with the heart ace, declarer gave himself almost no chance. Instead he should discard a diamond from dummy. Then, after regaining the lead with a club ruff, he should take the trump finesse (the percentage play) and draw trumps. Finally, dummys two remaining diamond losers can be discarded on the good spades.
© 1987 Richard Pavlicek