Ted's Bridge World Dante's Infernal

Points, Schmoints!

We all are familiar with a score of 2210; that's the reward for bidding and making a vulnerable grand slam in a major suit.  What is seen less often is a part-score deal in which that number of points is blown collectively by the four participants.  Such was this deal from the Sunday duplicate:


South's 2 bid was normal for that player, whose self-determined role in the bridge community is to do the unexpected.  North's pass of 2> was ludicrous; she had an easy 2 call.  In light of her original pass over 1 her bid rated to be based upon a diamond fit; therefore, south could retreat to 3 when short in spades.  North's competing to 3 was best, as 3 would have been down only one.

The charity offerings commenced in earnest with east's 4 bid, as that converted a result of -110 into a potential -300.  Chalk up 190 points blown by east.

Then it was north's turn.  Pulling partner's double was silly, and it gave away the +300 (and a matchpoint top) for -100, the result in 4 doubled.  Chalk up 400 points blown by north.

Now west got her big chance to get onto the scoreboard.  Needing to play three round of hearts immediately, she opted for an ill-conceived club lead, giving declarer the chance to fulfill his contract.  Let's see — that's -510 instead of +100, or 610 points chucked by west.

The play: Declarer won the A as east played the jack, showing a jack-high holding.  A diamond was led to the king; west played low, which was best under the circumstances.  South now led a tricky Q.  This should have been ruffed by west, although her heart discard wasn't fatal.  A heart was thrown from dummy, and the K was advanced.  This time west did ruff as dummy shed another heart (although overruffing would have served just as well).

West, on lead, played two high hearts, dummy trumping the second, to this position:


At this juncture, declarer could have succeeded by leading the Q.  Yes, he would later have to guess the location of the 10, which was problematical.  Having an exact count of the distribution, it would be odds-on to play west for that card, that worthy having done well not to have discarded a spade.

Declarer also could have prevailed by leading the 8 to the jack, guaranteeing a later dummy entry via either a trump lead or a heart ruff.  Instead, he led the 10, thereby contributing 610 points to the Pool of Squandered Opportunities (POS).  West took the A and returned her last trump, forcing declarer to play spades from hand.

South, apparently discombobulated by the whole affair, played off his last trump unnecessarily, blowing 200 more points; for in this position he could still have gotten out for down one.  Another 200 points were lost when declarer failed to cash his 10, electing to play off A and another spade; east claimed the last three tricks, for down three: -500.

Apparently declarer was playing west to hold the K; yet that conclusion was unrealistic in light of east's three unforced bids.

The total carnage: E: -190;  N: -400;  W: -610;  S: -1010.  Total = -2210!

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