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Western Seniors

from David Schokman

It has long been my considered opinion that the best bid in bridge is the PASS and there is nothing that you can say to me that will change this unshakeable belief that I hold. After the Western Senior's event I chose a deal to write about, and half way through writing said to myself "I'd better call Nigel". There were two reasons, the first one was that it was only Marie France and Nigel who found the perfect spot, of 6C, (by accident he says) and the other is that almost, without exception, the first hand that we pick, to write about, from any weekend event is the same. However, we are writing with a different tack, and you would have read his column on May 22nd, while this will appear in the June edition of Focus.

West Deals
E-W Vul
Q J 10 7 6 5
Q J 8 4
J 7
A K 10 9 8
A 9 5
A 10 6 4 2
J 5 3 2
K 7 6
K Q 9 5 3
A K 9 8 4 3
Q 6 4
10 3 2

You all know what happened at Nigel's table. 1C by him (strong). 3S by Ron Cooper as he believes in competing strongly against strong club openings. Please do not consider a bid like this unless you are at least half as good a player as Ron is.

All other pairs would see west opening with a bid of 1H. 2S by north, - showing a weak six card suit. 3H by east. At this vulnerability south can chose to bid a high number of spades, and hope that the opponents can be shut out of the bidding. This is where I stick my neck out and say that south should pass. I can almost hear the screams of derision, with the kinder epithets being "wimp" and "bidding coward". But please consider. Your partner has made a weak bid and you have six card trump support. This means that one opponent has a void in spades, and once you confirm that you have a good spade fit it is going to be so much easier for your opponents to find their way to a slam, and correctly place any cards of importance.

So my recommendation is that south passes. Now I do not know how the bidding will proceed but if your opponents stop short of a vulnerable slam let them play there. However, if they find their way to 6H I would now advise the person sitting south, to rise, like Lazarus, and bid 6S. This advice only applies to bidding at this vulnerability. At our table it was 1H - (2S) - 3H - (3S) - 4H - (4S) - 5H - (5S) - 6H - long think, and 6S bid by south. The contract was doubled, and this excellent sacrifice went unrewarded as not enough pairs bid and made the slam, some even failing to make 12 tricks in 6H. This now comes down to how you play the heart suit. Everyone of you must have heard the old adage/axiom, "eight ever: nine never", this of course referring as whether you should take the finesse against the queen when you hold nine trumps. With eight you always take the finesse, and with nine you play for the drop, unless you are aware of other distributional information that would change the odds.

What has changed? Both north and south have six spades each. You have a void and your partner has a singleton. Would/could this distributional pattern be mirrored in the opponent's hands? Sadly no, as there is no logical, or mathematical, justification to expect similar shapes in the other hands. So you play one top honour first and then go to dummy and play the knave. No south player will/should ever cover the knave, so you are on your own to make the decision. So if you always play for a drop with nine it is better to continue as you have no additional information to change your pattern of play. That is probably why players failed to make 12 tricks.

One of my partner's, Dave Munro, has been vying to win the Western Seniors event for some years and this time with Fiske Warren he did it. They never lost a match and had one of the most comprehensive wins seen in this event by 19 victory points.

The unluckiest pair were Florence Maltby and Di Brooks. They played consistently good bridge and never moved further away from table two, being in the top four pairs for 7 of the 9 rounds. Then in the last round they had a bidding misunderstanding on a tough board (number 17) and lost 1100 - 15 imps on it - keeping them out of second spot.


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