Lifestyle

‘Divorce Stakes’ looms large at the club

There is a little bit of a break from tournaments at the club at the moment, although looming large next week is the dreaded mixed pairs aka “The Divorce Stakes”.

I know my partner Jean Johnson has many fond memories of our participation in these events and it is always a tough choice deciding between playing in this and jumping off a cliff!

The event takes place on Monday and Friday of next week and all the gory details will be featured in this column.

This week’s hand is short and simple but shows the need for clear thinking from the declarer when dummy hits the table. It is not a hand that will catch out the experienced player, but those with less time at the table may not see the wood for the trees.

South Dealer E/W Vulnerable

North

? AQJ

? A5

? AQJ962

? K7

South

? 109

? KQJ1064

? 1084

? Q3

South opened the hand with a weak 2 Hearts and North made the marvellously practical bid of 6 Hearts.

There is no sensible way to bid this hand and even if North employed Blackwood and found partner with the Club Ace, the Diamond suit is still a mystery so bidding the grand slam is out of the question.

So the small slam bid is entirely reasonable.

West did what many players would do on a non cue-bid sequence by cashing the Club Ace at trick one and then when dummy came down following with a sneaky looking two of Spades. Refusing to be tricked, declarer played the Queen which lost to the King, down one.

Declarer did not think about the play at trick two long enough.

Even if the Spade finesse works, the slam does not make unless the Diamond finesse works — and if the Diamond finesse works, the Spade finesse is unnecessary.

North

? AQJ

? A5

? AQJ962

? K7

West East

? 8432 ? K765

? 87 ? 932

? K73 ? 5

? A642 ? J10985

South

? 109

? KQJ1064

? 1084

? Q3

The full deal

The right play is pretty easy — win the Spade Ace, draw trumps and then play the Diamond 10. The hand rolls in and declarer chalks up a satisfying 980, meaning a good board and happy partner. It doesn’t take much to make partners happy — and a bit of extra thought helps.