BRIDGE BY THE LAKE – January 2010


By Ken Masson


Student bridge players learn many maxims that are intended to help them in mastering this fascinating game: “cover an honor with an honor”, “second hand low” “eight ever, nine never” are just a few. Apparently, one of the defenders of this hand was not familiar with another bridge saying: “keep parity with the dummy”.

South opened 1NT to show a balanced 15 to 17 points. North’s 2 clubs was Stayman, asking declarer if he had a four card major. When South bid 2 diamonds to deny a four card major, North made the unusual bid of a jump to 6 diamonds. North’s reasoning was that if South was short in hearts and spades, it was reasonable to expect some length in diamonds. South only held 3 diamonds but as this included the King and Queen, a reasonably good small slam was reached.

West led the club Jack and South paused to plan the hand. Declarer could count 6 diamonds, 2 clubs, 1   heart and, after the ace was lost, at least 2 spades for eleven tricks. An extra trick could be achieved in one of two ways: (1) if the opponents’ spades were divided 3-3, the long spade in dummy would become the twelfth trick or (2) if the opponents’ diamonds were divided 2-2, declarer could trump dummy’s fourth spade in hand, again for the twelfth trick.

With this plan in mind, declarer pitched a heart from the dummy and won the opening Jack of clubs lead in hand with the Ace. Next, South cashed the trump King and crossed to dummy with a diamond to the Ace and was disappointed to see West show out of diamonds. But every cloud has a silver lining and declarer took note of the card that West did play: the 9 of spades, apparently to show his partner the Ace of that suit. Declarer now returned to hand with a diamond to the Queen, drawing the opponents’ last trump.

South now cashed the club King to pitch his last heart in dummy and followed this with a spade to the Queen. A low spade was next played from dummy to declarer’s King and West’s Ace but that was the end of things as far as the defense was concerned. West only had the spade 7 left, (East had no more spades) while dummy still had the Jack and 5, so declarer could claim 12 tricks.

This is where “keeping parity with the dummy” becomes necessary. There was no need for West to show his spade Ace to partner as declarer was bound to have at least two spades for his no trump opening bid and any loser in that suit could scarcely go away. From the bidding, West knew that South had precisely 2 or 3 spades. And more importantly, West’s spade holding combined with East’s meant that it was vital for West to keep all four spades as long as dummy held four. Declarer could never set up a twelfth trick and the slam contract would have to fail.


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