Mark Horton

It’s bridge, Jim, but not as we know it.

The first episode of ‘Star Trek’ was broadcast on 08 September 1966 on the American television channel, NBC. Since then it’s become an enormous franchise, spawning feature films, spin-off series, magazines, books, songs, toys and of course, many famous phrases.

One of the classic lines occurred when, on seeing new life on a strange planet, Dr ,McCoy turned to Captain Kirk and said in an ominous tone: ‘It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.’

I have unashamedly adapted it to reveal some of the stranger happenings I have encountered.

Dealer: North

Vul: Both

9 8
10 5 3
9 7 6 5 2
5 4 3
West East
Q J 10 4 6 5 2
A 4 2 7 6
J 10 5 3 A Q 8
A 7 K Q 10 8 6
10 5
A J 3
A 10 4 2
A J 10 6
West North: Helman

East South: Horton

Pass Pass 1NT!
All Pass

In the modern game you will not find too many people passing on those East cards, and when the Rabbi elected to kick off with a somewhat eccentric opening bid he stole the pot.

West led the queen of spades and declarer won with the ace and played a heart to dummy’s ten. When that held the Rabbi boldly went where no Rabbi has gone before (You knew I was going to split that infinitive didn’t you?) and played a diamond. If East had risen with the ace the defenders would still be taking tricks, but he played low and the Rabbi won with the king and reverted to hearts. West won and continued with a spade and South won and cashed out. (I can’t help wondering…if declarer ducks the second spade would West have played another?)

+90 was by no means a top, as several East/West pairs attempted 3NT and oblivious to the rabbi’s rule, an early diamond finesse saw them go crashing off.

A sure way to end up with a poor result it to be uncertain about the strength of partner’s bid – as in this example:

Dealer: North

Vul: Both

A J 10 2
A Q J 10 8
A 7 4
West East
K 8 9 6 4
8 5 K J 10 9 6 4 3 2
K 9 4 3 2
K Q J 3 10 5
Q 7 4 3
7 6 5
9 8 6 2
West North: Helman

East South: Horton

1 3 Pass
3NT Dbl 4 Dbl
All Pass

For some reason West thought Three Hearts was intermediate.

Declarer ruffed the diamond lead and tried a spade to the king. North won and switched to a heart, so South took the queen and ace, cashed the queen of spades and played a club. The ace followed by another spade trick completed the rout.

My next example is one of those annoying situations where good defence not only goes unrewarded, but also ends up earning a dreadful result:

Dealer: South

Vul: Both

9 6 2
J 8 6 3
A 6 5 4
7 5
West East
A K 3 Q 8 7 4
10 7 2 A K Q 9 5
K Q 9 2 10 3
K 10 2 8 6
J 10 5
J 8 7
A Q J 9 4 3
West North East South
3NT All Pass

North led the seven of clubs and when South put in the jack West ducked.

With so many points in dummy the realistic target for the defence is three tricks and it is clear that the most likely place to find one is in the diamond suit. If partner’s diamond is the ace it doesn’t matter what you do, but if it is the king it will be catastrophic if you cash the ace of clubs – declarer will then have four spades, five hearts, and a trick in each minor.

So the indicated defence is to switch to a diamond. Declarer put up the king, North took the ace and returned….a diamond.

Goodbye top, hello bottom.

Dealer: East

Vul: Both

A Q 10 9 8 6 4
9 4 2
J 10
West East
K J 7 3
A J 5 K Q 10 7
A J 3 2 K 7
K 7 6 Q 9 8 5 4 3
5 2
8 6 3
Q 10 9 8 5 4
A 2
West North East South
Pass Pass
1NT 2 * 3 Pass
3NT All Pass

2Single-suited hand

When North leads a spade – the queen was the card chosen at several tables – declarer won with the king, crossed to dummy with a heart and played a club. I hope you were ready with the ace, as the subsequent spade return gives your side the next six tricks.

Even if you didn’t, you may be consoled by the fact that -600 was comfortably above average, as some North’s bid too many spades and went for a number, while others decided a spade lead was far too likely to give up a vital trick.

Leave a comment

Your comment