Poor Bridge of the Week
A Very Special Defence
By Rob Morris

From time to time, one sees cardplay that truly beggars belief. Defence that has one blinking in confusion and examining the hand records for some hint of what would posess a player to play the one card that is poison to their chances of beating a contract. I savour these special hands like a fine wine. I like to relax in the company of good friends, discuss the hands at length, and have a good laugh at the poor unfortunates concerned. Then I fire off an article to poorbridge.com.

Here is a hand that was played recently at the Cambridge City Bridge Club. It features some really special defence, a good recovery from declarer Ian Abel in a horrible contract, and illustrates the effect that a well-timed psyche can have on normally rational minds.

N/S Vuln
Dealer E
SA 7 5 2
H7 5 4 2
DK J 7 2


(1)Good raise

S10 9 8 6
DA 10 9 3
C10 7 6 3
HK Q 10 6 3
D6 5 4
CJ 4 2
SJ 4 3
HJ 9 8
DQ 8
CA K 9 8 5

Third in at 'green', I elected to psyche 1H. Unfortunately, partner had a good raise of hearts, and I could think of nothing but passing 2NT (and beginning a 3-level post-psyche-reveal scramble if it was doubled). Thankfully we were left to play in 2NT, and I was left to survey the play as dummy and wonder how many we'd be going off in 50's.

South began by cashing the CA, slightly unluckily crashing her partner's singleton queen. A switch was indicated, and after brief consideration she came up with a a very unusual lead — the knave of spades! The spade switch works well, using up declarer's spade entry to hand before the hearts are unblocked, however the SJ blows a trick. North overtook the SJ with the SA and continued spades, allowing declarer to win the SK, cross to the HA and cash a further two spades. South threw a heart on the last spade, whereupon declarer sat inert for a while until it was ascertained that South had not ruffed in, the contract was still 2NT, and the lead was still in dummy.

Back from his daydream, declarer now found the excellent play of the C10, and South just could not bear to hold up her CK (locking declarer in dummy and holding him to six tricks). Instead, she took the CK, setting up a hand entry for declarer and giving him a grand total of three spades, five hearts, a club and the DA, making 2NT with two overtricks. Mmmm.