Brighton Swiss Teams, Part 1
by Brian Senior

The first session of the Swiss Teams served up a nice mixture of good, bad, educational and amusing boards. The most interesting deal from Match One was this one:

Board 3. E/W Game. Dealer South.

SQ 6 4 2
H8 5
D9 6 3 2
CQ J 9
SK 5
HK Q J 7 6
DJ 4
CA 4 3 2
HandSA J 9 3
HA 9 4 2
DK 5
C10 7 6
S10 8 7
H10 3
DA Q 10 8 7
CK 8 5

The popular spot was 4H by West, and North led the queen of clubs. Declarer got the impression that South (understandably) gave it a moment's thought before playing low, suggesting that she might hold king-doubleton. Declarer won the club, drew trumps in two rounds then led a club. Had South indeed started with king-doubleton, she would now have been endplayed to ensure the success of the contract. Alas, South won the king and returned a club to her partner’s jack, and a diamond through meant down one and –100.

Board 16. E/W Game. Dealer West.

S10 6
HQ J 7 4 3
DQ 8 6 5
CJ 10
SQ 7 2
HA K 9
DA K J 4
CA 8 5
HandSK 9 8 4
H8 6 5 2
D9 3
C6 4 2
SA J 5 3
D10 7 2
CK Q 9 7 3

Our team-mates, Annie Lekova and Trajan Hristov, from Bulgaria, defeated 2NT by two on this deal.

When Sandra Penfold opened 2NT, I was tempted by the prospect of a major-suit fit, so used Puppet Stayman and was disappointed to see partner deny a major.

3NT looked pretty hopeless on North’s lead of a low heart to the ten, but one should never give up. Sandra won the king of hearts and led the spade queen. This was ducked, but the tempo strongly suggested that South held the ace. She continued with the two of spades and ducked North’s ten. He returned the jack of hearts, so Sandra won the ace and returned the nine. North defended well here by ducking, rather than winning and giving dummy an entry when he cleared the hearts. Meanwhile, South had pitched two diamonds. Sandra’s next shot was a low diamond towards dummy’s nine, hoping to catch North sleeping. North went in with the queen and cashed two hearts, Sandra throwing her low clubs, then, not wishing to take a possible club finesse for declarer, returned a diamond. Sandra took her three diamond winners, throwing dummy’s spades, and South got it wrong, throwing the ace of spades at trick twelve. 3NT bid and made for +600 and 13 IMPs to the good guys.

Of course, South should have got it right. It was clear to everyone that he had the ace of spades, and had North held the last spade, he would surely have led it after cashing his heart winners.

Board 9. E/W Game. Dealer North.

SA K Q 6 3 2
H10 6 5
C10 6 5
HJ 7 3
DK J 9 7 5 3 2
C4 3
HandS7 5 4
HA K Q 9 4 2
D9 3
CQ 9 8 2
S10 9 8
DA Q 10 8 6
CA K J 7

Two Diamonds was an always-weak multi, and South’s double only to play if partner’s suit was hearts. Perhaps my 3H rebid was a bit pushy but the opposition bidding pretty well ensured that partner would be short in spades, so there was a good chance of some heart tolerance. But when South jumped to the spade game, West had undisclosed heart support and decided to bid 5H, promptly doubled by South.

I don’t know if West was hoping her opponents would have a bidding misunderstanding and that we would be left to play in 2H doubled or was just dozing. Had she simply raised to 3H or introduced the diamonds at her first turn, she would have got the hand off her chest and could have left subsequent bidding to East.

The hand is educational for the defence. South led the ace of clubs, and North played what he intended to be a suit-preference five, hoping for a diamond ruff. South, however, took it to be encouraging in clubs, as it should be – attitude normally takes precedence over suit-preference. But whatever the meaning of the club play, South can see that the defence has all three side-suits sewn up and should switch to a trump. North can win the first spade play and lead a second trump and declarer makes only seven heart tricks, going for –1100. Indeed, South might have led his trump at trick one for the same reason. In real life, South continued with king and a third club. Declarer pitched dummy’s spade on the club queen and could ruff all three spade losers in dummy. That meant down one for –200 and a 6-IMP gain, as 4S made an overtrick at the other table. Plus 1100 would have meant 12 IMPs the other way.

There are few things that the expert enjoys more than seeing another expert with egg on his face – particularly when that other expert has done something that looks to be entirely reasonable. Michael Byrne was the hero (?) of this next deal.

Board 15. N/S Game. Dealer South.

HA J 8 4 3
DJ 8 3
C9 7 5 3
SA J 6 3 2
HK 10
DA K 9 6 4
HandSQ 7 5 4
H7 6 5 2
DQ 2
C8 6 4
S10 9 8
HQ 9
D10 7 5
CA K Q J 10
DblAll Pass

Duncan Happer (west) led a low diamond to Byrne’s (East) queen. Byrne could see that the diamonds were running – with the jack in dummy, declarer would have won the first trick if holding either the ace or king. A simple soul would have returned the two of diamonds and, after cashing that suit, Happer would have switched to the ace of spades and cashed that suit – down four for +1100.

But an expert thinks ahead. What will partner switch to after running the diamonds? If he has a club holding, it will be important for the club lead to come from the East hand, and East may have no further entry (East does not know who has the spade ace). So our hero switched to a club. He did well after that, hanging on grimly to his four little hearts as declarer rattled off the clubs, so the heart finesse only produced one overtrick for +380.

The club switch therefore cost a small matter of 1480 points. I can think of West players who would have had something to say after this defence (my partners might suggest that I am one of those players), but Duncan Happer is the perfect partner and just got on with the next board, though no doubt mentally rolling his eyes and muttering to himself.

If Michael would like to know the name of the player who snitched on him, it will cost only one beer. Unless, of course, that player wishes to remain anonymous, in which case two beers from him will do the trick.

This article is reprinted from the 2012 Brighton Focus newsletter…Part 2 will be published in our next issue.