Nov 192002

Both Vul
Dealer: West
Lead: H9

S K 6 4 2
H A J 7
D K 10 7 6
C 10 4
S A 9 3
H 10 6 4 3 2
D 2
C K Q 9 7
[W - E] Maestro
S 8
H Q 9 8 5
D A Q 9 8 3
C J 6 5
S Q J 10 7 5
D J 5 4
C A 8 3 2
2 C
2 D
1 S
2 S


Bridge, it cannot be overstressed, is a cooperative game. And on defense communication is essential. Today’s hand shows Gee and his partner in a seamless performance, each contributing mightily to achieve the result that they deserve.

South applies the rule of 15 and opens a subminimum 1S in fourth seat. North, the aptly named e48400, bids reverse Drury, and our hero, East, throws in a rather irresponsible 2D vulnerable overcall, with South unlimited, partner possibly broke, and 47 losers. On the layout, 2DX is down only 2 on best play, which loses most of the matchpoints but not quite as many as the actual result. (It would be prescient but not impossible for West to run to hearts.)

2D is passed around to North, whose double looks like penalty to me but is taken out to 2S by his partner. North figures, incorrectly, that his partner’s hand is unsuited to defense and, hoping for long runnable spades, takes a wild stab at 3NT, which is where we end up.

Gee kicks off the defensive communications by leading the H9. This communicates a heart honor and length in the suit. Wait. It doesn’t? OK, never mind. It does show the eight though. Probably.

Declarer wins HK and plays spades. West ducks the first round and wins the second, as Gee discards the H5, eliminating the remote possibility of West returning a heart, which beats the contract two tricks. Had Gee kept his hearts and discarded one of his useless diamonds instead, West might have bothered to count the hand, placed North with the diamond ace or king for his notrump bid, and concluded that Gee must have a heart honor for his overcall and was leading from an “interior sequence.”

A club return still beats the contract a trick; but if declarer holds J10x it is a disaster. So West, suboptimally but understandably, leads his partner’s suit. Our hero wins the DQ and thinks matters over. North is marked with the DK for his 3NT bid. He has already shown up with SK, HA and probably HJ as well. Either club honor makes 13 points and an opening hand. Partner holds KQ of clubs, therefore, and two club tricks, two diamond tricks and a spade put the contract to bed. There’s only one thing to do: he returns a low diamond.

A grateful declarer wins the D10 and promptly plays a diamond back, establishing a second diamond for nine tricks. Communication, that’s what I’m saying. Gerard couldn’t have done it without Francis, and Francis couldn’t have done it without Gerard.

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