Playing in a Swiss, you’re just above average after 4 rounds. After lunch, you need at least 2 blitzes if you want to finish honorably. In the 5th match, you meet a good team that you’ve beaten before. Once in a KO final, on the final board of a 4 board tie-break, you led a small heart from Kxx against 6♠. Partner won the ace and came back heart: one down.
So, on the 1st board of the 5th match, after 2 passes, your LHO,
vulnerable, opens 1♠ with 8 points. His partner bids 2♥, all pass and we score
+200. That should be a good start. That decision by an experienced
player to open 1♠ with 10xxxx in spades, really surprises you. It is
bad bridge, like trying to be too smart. The rest of the match goes
well. You give nothing away on defense. You make a 4♥ with 4 potential losers,
the same experienced player switching to a suit you needed to guess and
then make 460 in 3NT against soft defense.
On the last board, partner plays 4♠ after a 3♥ preempt on his right.
The lead is the ♥K.
RHO overtakes with the Ace, cashes the Queen and
switches to a small club. Declarer plays small, LHO wins the Ace and
plays back a club, RHO following, and declarer wins the King.
How do you play the spades? The only thing that can beat you is a 4-0
split. Can LHO have all 4 of them? He already showed 7 hearts and 3
clubs. If he has 4 spades, he has 14 cards. Impossible then. So you
just have to play Ace of spades. If everyone follows, you claim.
Not taking the bidding and the play of the cards into account (how many
times did we repeat that?), my partner played a spade to the King, went
down in a cold contract and, instead of winning by 5 or 6, we lost by a
That was it for me. I know I am not supposed to do that, but I lost all
interest and just felt like quitting.
The rest of the day, I just pushed cards, trying not to make mistakes,
but not really caring.
In the next to last match, I find myself in 4♠, vul vs not.
LHO leads the ♥Q.
At least 4 losers. With the overcall, the club King should be placed,
that is your only chance. You need to assume that. And you can still
have 2 trump losers. If trumps behave and the club king is with LHO,
you will make 4♠. But when things seem easy, prepare for the worst.
Having lost interest (have I said that before?), I played for a 3-2
trump break and went down. After the match, in the hall, I played and
replayed the hand in my head.
I won the ♥K and
played a spade to the Queen. LHO played small, RHO won the Ace and
played a diamond. I won and played my other diamond. LHO won and played
a second heart. I won the Ace. How should I play?
I need 10 tricks. I can count on 2 hearts, 1 diamond and 2 clubs. So I
need 5 trump tricks. If trumps break, no problem, but... If
4-1, RHO should have all 4 trumps, exactly A109x. Will you play a trump
to your 8, losing to the 9 or 10 doubleton offside if trumps are 3-2?
Do you see a better way?
Wandering in the hall, wishing this damn Swiss would be over, the
solution finally dawned on me and I realized I had committed a mortal
sin against beauty. And I realized also I robbed myself of the greatest
pleasure there is: imagine a hand, place the cards in the opponents'
hands, play accordingly and find out, afterwards, you had imagine
exactly the distribution.
I write novels and, like the famous author John Irving (The world
according to Garp, 1980 something; A widow for one year, 2000
something) says: One
must imagine a good story; (…) Personal experience
is overrated, but observation is essential.
Imagination is far better at creating believable stories than real life
experience. Of course, like John Irving says, if a detail is inspired
by real life, it is ok, but it is not necessary.
Bridge is the same: imagination and visualization are the most
Do you see the pleasure I missed?
Why not ruff out the diamonds and the hearts? While ruffing the hearts,
LHO cannot over ruff even if he has the trump 10. With this plan, the
spade break is irrelevant. Plan the play exactly. In dummy with the H
Ace, you can play a diamond and ruff, 5th trick. Now play a club to the
Queen, 6th trick. Now a heart ruffed, 7th trick. Another club to the
Ace, 8th trick. The 4th heart from dummy will see you home.
If RHO ruffs, you just discard your losing club and claim.
If he discards, you ruff low and play KJ of spades, making 4.
Isn’t that beautiful?
My play, sloppy and careless, result of my loss of interest, was really
a sin against beauty.