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Skillful play at the worlds oldest Bridge Club

You know how sometimes you are sure that an opponent has played their only card in a suit. It’s a feel thing – a sixth sense. [It’s not because of where in their hand they have played the card – to look is very much against the spirit (and Laws) of the game]. My friend David Barker had just such a feel on this deal from a deal at London’s Portland Club, believed to be the oldest Bridge Club in the world.


North Deals
None Vul
9 3
Q 6 2
K Q 10 4
A J 6 2
A 9 8 4
9 8 7
Q 10 8 5 3
W   E
K 10 7 6
K J 10 5
J 5 2
9 4
A Q 8 5 4 2
7 3
A 6 3
K 7
West North East South
  1 N Pass 4 
Pass Pass Pass  
4  by South

West brightly began with the ace of hearts v 4 [hardly a classic choice, but Portland Club defensive style tends to be of the fast attacking variety, not the slow passive approach so favoured (rightly) at Duplicate Pairs]. The tall dummy tabled his assets with the words, “sorry partner, worst spade holding and minimum point count”.

East encouraged the lead by playing the jack, so West continued with a second heart, East winning the ten and leading the king, declarer ruffing low.

At trick four declarer laid down the ace of spades, in case something interesting happened [see only low cards and I imagine he’d have crossed to dummy to lead towards his queen]. He noted the fall of West’s jack with great interest and his sixth sense told him it was singleton. That being the case a Trump Coup would be necessary to pick up East’s remaining K107.

Declarer found the only way home. He cashed the king of clubs then led a club to the jack, a seemingly unnecessary risk, but it fact it was essential. He next led dummy’s nine of spades.

East chose to rise with the king (it didn’t matter) and found the best return of a diamond (a heart would help declarer in the trump shortening process), whilst a trump would give declarer the free finesse he needed. Winning the diamond in dummy, declarer led the six of clubs for the necessary trump shortening ruff (East throwing a diamond – best). Declarer led a low diamond back to dummy and now advanced the ace of clubs.

If East, holding 107 and 5, ruffed, declarer, holding Q8 and A, could overruff, draw East’s other trump and cash the diamond. When East chose to discard, declarer could throw the diamond and “coup” East’s trumps, holding Q8 over East’s 107. 10 tricks and game made.

“Wow. Well played, partner”, said a hugely impressed and delighted dummy.

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