Poor Bridge of the Week
Winning the Part-Score Battle
By Rob Morris

One of the key aspects of successful bridge is winning the partscore battle. At matchpoint pairs it is vital to compete in the auction. The following hand, played at Cambridge University Bridge Club, is an example of the principle carried to extremes, and some rather unusual and helpful defending.

Third hand, non-vulnerable against vulnerable, I heard two passes to me and had to decide whether to act with the following collection.

S10 8
H9 8 7 5
DA 10 8
CA Q 8 7

Feeling the need to to bid, I chanced a rather sub-minimum 1H opening. While the suit, shape and strength were lacking, I hoped it would cause some problems for my opponents. Perhaps 1S would be better (since it is more likely to be the opponents' suit) but this time I had guessed right — my left-hand opponent's eyes goggled and he made a funny noise. He eventually produced a 2D overcall while still looking perplexed. I was happy to have lost opponents their heart suit, when partner produced a 2S bid. I let this float (happy that partner was a passed hand), and there was no double and no further bidding.

Here is the full hand:

N/S Vuln
Dealer W
SA J 9 5 2
H10 6 2
DQ 6
C5 4 2


SK Q 7 6 3
DJ 3 2
CK 10 9 3
S10 8
H9 8 7 5
DA 10 8
CA Q 8 7
HA K Q J 3
DK 9 7 5 4
CJ 6

Obviously, the contract has little to recommend it, except that opponents can scrape together several (maybe even ten) tricks in hearts. If I told you that the final score was E-W +110 and a top, how would you guess the contract was made? The diagnosis is, of course, poor bridge.

The fun started at trick one. North led DQ. Declarer went into the tank for a while and ducked the trick, playing the D2. North then put down another card, the D6, and immediately turned it over, leaving the Queen he had originally led face-up. Was this a clever Myles coup, attempting to cash the DQ twice? No, it turned out that North had forgotten that he had led to the trick and contributed a fifth card!

When the laughs had subsided, the director ruled that the D6 was led to trick 2, and play continued. This amusing but innocuous incident dramatically affected the hand, for it put North in an awful muddle. When declarer played a heart, won and continued by South, North over-ruffed — and then led back his last heart!

That was curtains. Declarer could ruff this trick, in the end taking three clubs, the HA and two trumps. With two tricks for the revoke, we had gained a most undeserved good score.

Now, this hand was not posted to insult our un-named North. He is good enough to know better, but we all make these little errors from time to time. We feel the hand is worth recording for the fact that it contained a (semi-)psyche, a five-card trick, two director calls, and the always spectacular revoke-in-a-suit-then-lead-it-back play. The only thing that could have improved the poorness of the hand would be the dreaded cross-revoke, where defenders repeatedly ruff, return the same suit for a ruff, and receive a ruff in the same suit. Sadly, in this case South's trump was too small and doomed to be over-ruffed, or no doubt he'd have risen to the occasion.