Technique Pays Off

By Patrick Jourdain (Wales)

 

In Maastricht, Wales are playing in their first World Bridge Championship and the Women's team got off to a good start by beating Pakistan 16-14 and then the Czech Republic 21-9. A key board in the first round was the last of the match.

 

Diane Kurbalija and Jill Casey had a good auction to a sound Six Hearts, and then Casey brought the slam home with the technique that has earned her a place in previous years both in the British Women's team and the Wales Open team:

 

                            Dealer West. All Vul.

 

                            S  A K 3

                            H  J 6

                            D  K 9 6 4

                            C  A J 9 8

            S  10 9 7 6 5                 S  8 4

            H  K 5 4                      H  9 3

            D  J 8                        D  Q 7 3 2

            C  K 6 3                      C  Q 10 7 5 2

                            S  Q J 2

                            H  A Q 10 8 7 2

                            D  A 10 5

                            C  4

 

Open Room

          WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

        Woodruff       Naqvi        Clench        Abid

          Pass         1NT           Pass         3H

          Pass         3NT           Pass         4H

          All Pass

 

Closed Room

          WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

          Dossa        Casey         Agha       Kurbalija

          Pass         1NT           Pass         2D

          Pass         2H            Pass         4C

          Pass         4D            Pass         4H

          Pass         4S            Pass         4NT

          Pass         5H            Pass         6H

          All Pass

 

1NT was 14-16, 2D a transfer, 4C an auto-splinter - a slam try setting hearts as trumps, 4D and 4S were cues, 4NT was Roman Keycard Blackwood, and the response showed two of five keys and denied the trump queen.

In the Open Room Pakistan stopped in Four Hearts and, on the lead of the diamond jack, made 12 tricks. Slam is good because it makes when the trumps come in and has other chances.

In the Closed Room Casey, as North, had the task of making Six Hearts on a passive trump lead. Confident that East had not led away from the king, Casey rose with the ace and, when the king did not fall, continued with a second trump. West won and exited with a club.

With the heart finesse wrong, prospects did not look good of bringing in the diamonds, but there was an extra chance. Casey put on the ace of clubs, ruffed a club, and drew two more trumps, throwing diamonds from her own hand. She then cashed three spades ending in the North hand. This was the position when the last spade was led:

 

                            S  A

                            H  --

                            D  K 9

                            C  J 9

                S  10 9               S  --

                H  --                 H  --

                D  J 8                D  Q 7 3

                C  K                  C  Q 10

                            S  J

                            H  7

                            D  A 10 5

                            C  --

 

East had no answer to the third spade. When she threw a club Casey ruffed a club to set up a trick in the suit, and returned with DK to reach it. This was worth 13 IMPs to Wales, enough to swing the match in their favour.

The minor-suit squeeze can always be reached but, on a spade lead won by North, a losing heart finesse, and a second spade from the defence, declarer has to be careful to preserve a spade entry in the North hand. Two club ruffs are needed to isolate the guard with East, and a further entry must be preserved to reach the good club.