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A hand of friendship

The Corn Cairdis – The Friendship Trophy held annually between England and Ireland – is now in its 21st year. England notched up its 14th victory in 2013 at the charming Bradford Bridge Club, but all participants are winners on such an occasion where Bridge is played in the true spirit of the game.

An international for players of not-quite-international standard, there are three categories:

Officials, Club and County. Any international player would have been proud of their performance as the English Officials on this deal from the event.

South Deals
Both Vul
Q J 9 7
8 6
K 10 3 2
10 9 3
Q J 9 4 2
A J 4
K J 7 6 5
W   E
A 10
K 10 7
Q 9 8 7 6 5
8 2
K 8 6 5 4 3 2
A 5 3
A Q 4
West North East South
Dbl1 3 2 Pass3 4 
Pass Pass Pass  
  1. Might bid 2 Michaels, showing five-five in hearts and a minor.
  2. Weaker after double. If North had a genuine 3 bid ie 10-11 points, he’d bid 2 NT.
  3. Might bid 4 ♦.

The contract was 4  at both tables – although on careful play East-West are just one down in either 5  or 5 . Whether they’d wish they had sacrificed would depend on their defence to 4 .

When Ireland were East-West and Yorkshire’s Peter Stocken was declaring, East played an encouraging ten of hearts at trick one on West’s queen lead. Declarer correctly ducked. He won West’s second heart (to East’s king) with the ace and ruffed a heart, crucially eliminating the suit.

At trick four declarer led the queen of spades from dummy. East did the best he could, rising with the ace (West discarding an encouraging seven of clubs) and switching to the eight of clubs. However declarer played low from hand, let West win the jack and waited for West’s next move.

Anything that West now did would give declarer an extra trick – and the rest. A fourth heart would enable him to ruff in dummy and shed his queen of clubs. A club would run to his AQ. And his actual choice of the ace of diamonds could be ruffed, declarer then crossing to dummy in trumps (drawing East’s ten) and cashing the promoted king of diamonds shedding the queen of clubs. 10 tricks and game made. 

At the other table, the English East-West Philip Mason and James Bugden showed us how to beat 4 . The key play, as so often, came at trick one. Instead of playing the ten of hearts on his partner’s queen lead, East played the king. If declarer ducked his ace, East could switch to a club. If declarer won and played a second heart, East could win and again switch to a club. There was no endplay and 4  had to fail.

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