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Lords v’s Commons

The 2017 Lords v Commons played in November was won by the House of Commons by 36 imps, a decent margin over the 24 boards. Winning team: Bob Blackman-Tommy Sheppard, Michael Mates-Robin Squire, Bridget Prentice-Duncan Brack, Evan Harris-Archie Hamilton.

Board 5
South Deals
N-S Vul
8 4 2
K J 10 6 3
Q 10 4
7 5 3
J 10 9 7 5
7 4 2
6 2
W   E
K J 6 4
A 3
9 8 7 5 3
10 9 8 2
K Q 6
9 8 5
West North East South
      1 N
Pass 3 N1 Pass Pass
  1. Too good for 2 NT, given the robust five card diamond suit. That  10 is worth at least one point.

Board Five was an interesting 3 NT that was defeated at only one table. West leads the normal jack of hearts to East’s ace. As East, plan the defence.

You know partner has next-to nothing, for you have 14 points, dummy has 12 and declarer has advertised 12-14. That leaves room for no more than two points for partner and he has already turned up with one (the jack of hearts).

Returning a second heart is futile. Declarer will win and play on diamonds. He will force out your queen and ace and set up three diamond tricks to go with his three club tricks, king-queen of hearts and ace of spades. Nine tricks and game made.

Has the penny dropped? If you switch at trick two to a low spade (key play) and lead another low spade when you win the queen of diamonds, you will set up five defensive tricks. When you win the ace of diamonds, you’ll be able to cash the promoted king-jack of spades. Down one.

The point is the tempo is on your side — you can remove dummy’s two spade stoppers before declarer can remove your two diamond stoppers. It is counter-intuitive to lead from a king-jack round to dummy’s ace-queen and that’s what makes the defensive challenge so interesting.

The successful East-West defence occurred when West, Evan Harris, opted to try to find his partner at home with an opening spade lead, a very bright shot. The odds of being able to run his hearts given the lack of a sideentry are surely slender.

Dummy’s queen of spades lost to the king of East, Archie Hamilton. East continued with a low spade, declarer winning in dummy, crossing to a club and leading a diamond to the ten. East won the queen and could cash the king of spades and ace of diamonds. Down one.

For this winning defence, Harris and Hamilton were awarded the best play prize for the Tony Berry Trophy (retaining their title of the previous year).

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