With the Regional now a distant memory, the local players will have to pick themselves up and prepare for the spring tournament season, which starts with the Mens and Ladies Pairs on Monday, February 20, and Friday February 24, followed by the Junior Pairs and Mixed Pairs.
The events will be played in the newly designated “fragrance-free” environment at the Club as the Committee has banned all fragrances during events due to some members being adversely affected by them.
I will move on to the hand quickly, but my concern is not so much with the ladies but the men, some of whom will be challenged to be “fragrance-free” without wearing their usual fragrance — time will tell.
So to the hand — a fairly simple one but hugely instructional as it is the sort of situation that crops up time and time again at the table.
N/S Vul — Dealer North
After North opened a precision club showing 16 or more HCP South ended up as declarer in 3NT — at most other tables North was the declarer.
West led the Heart Jack, ducked by declarer, and continued with a low Heart won by East’s Queen. East switched to a Diamond and West won the Ace and woodenly returned a Diamond, which gave declarer some options. Declarer has 8 tricks and it looks like the 9th can come from a good guess in Clubs.
That made sense, but declarer was an experienced player and decided to keep that as option B — option A was to first test the Spade suit by either playing East for the Queen or for Spades to be 3-3. So, in order to keep control of the Spade suit at trick 5, declarer led a low Spade from dummy — hand over!
The full hand:
East had to hop up with the Queen and now declarer had 9 tricks with 3 Spades, three Diamonds, a Heart and two Clubs.
Notice that even if the Spade Jack loses to the Queen if West held it, declarer can still test for 3-3 Spades before putting herself to the Club guess.
Declarer needed to play this well, as when North plays the hand the likely ten of Spades lead by East would deliver the ninth trick and declarer would have the Club guess for the tenth trick.
The lesson, like many lessons in life, is simple — take all the free chances available to you before going to what looks like your best option.
Free chances do not cost anything.