Jun 272003
 

Today is the first anniversary of the Gee Chronicles. Just think, exactly a year since the Maestro underled an AKQ allowing Jx to score for the winning trick in a hopeless contract. How long ago it all seems, and yet how much we all have learned! It seems an opportune time to review some of the more memorable lessons of the Master, which pseudo-Gerard has been kind enough to supply.

 

1. Promote partnership amity. We sometimes forget the importance of a harmonious partnership to bridge success. Gee never does.

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: South
Lead: H2

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

North/South, through bidding that it will be merciful to let the sands of time dissolve, reach a 3NT contract that would be excellent but for the fact that it’s off eight top tricks. Gee opens the heart deuce, his partner wins the heart ace, and…shifts to the club queen! When Gee allows this to hold his partner thinks better of clubs and shifts again, this time to spades. North gratefully wins this and begins to run the diamonds. Gee discards a spade, then the 8 of hearts, then the 9 of hearts, and then, the coup de grace, the king of hearts, conceding the contract and an overtrick into the bargain.

Why, you ask? For the sake of the partnership. The best way to console your partner after he makes two earth-shattering errors in one hand is to make an even bigger one yourself.

 

2. Avoid Sticks and Wheels at all costs. At all costs:

E/W Vul
MPs
Dealer: South
Lead: S5

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

2 C
Pass
Pass

North

Pass
Pass
Pass

East

4 S
Dbl

South
1 C
5 D
Pass

The maestro, shrewdly realizing that the spade game makes double-dummy, elects to take the unilateral save in 5D. He wins the spade ace, and it looks for all the world like down 5 and Sticks and Wheels. But the maestro executes the winner-on-loser, discarding the heart king and playing another spade, tossing the heart queen. This opens both majors for the defense to tap him, and when the smoke clears he is down that all-important extra trick, for 1400.

Lemma: Always bid your suits in length order, longest first.

 

3. Attend to the Law of Total Tricks.

Both Vul
MPs
Dealer: North
Lead: SQ

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

Dbl
Pass

North
1 S
3 S
Pass
East
Pass
4 D
Pass
South
2 S
Dbl
Pass

Gee, expecting at least a nine-card fit from his opponents — what business has his partner got doubling with three spades anyway? — takes the vulnerable save against a part-score with four diamonds, doubled with alacrity by T2, scarcely able to believe his good fortune. As it happens good defense puts even 3S down, but how could anyone be expected to know that, or expect good defense? Four diamonds goes for 800 on ordinary declarer play, but under Gee’s sure touch the defense manages two trump, a spade, a heart, and three clubs for 1100.

That it is called the Law of Total Tricks, meaning it applies to both sides, is a more advanced lesson that we may get to in the Chronicles’ second year. The attentive reader may have noted that this hand violates Lesson 2, which itself points to another important rule: sometimes you just have to know when to break the rules.

 

4. Cover an Honor with an Honor.

Both Vul
MPs
Dealer: North
Lead: CA

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

1 H
3 D
Pass

North

2 C
Pass
Pass

East

2 H
4 H

South
Pass
3 C
Pass

North leads the club ace and shifts to a trump. Declarer wins and plays a low spade to North, who leads another trump. Declarer wins, ruffs a club, and plays another spade. North wins again and returns a club, ruffed by declarer. Low diamond to the king, diamond 10 off the board, and here we are, with the hand nearly an open book. Declarer is 2-5-4-2. If he has only the diamond queen he’s always down. If he has the ace-queen he always makes. If has the ace alone, well, any ordinary player can beat the contract. What is more important is to impress on one’s partner the significance of always covering an honor with an honor.

 

5. Always Lead Fourth Best.

Both Vul
MPs
Dealer: North
Lead: H8

grasshopper
S Q 8 6 5
H K Q 6 5
D 4
C 10 9 8 6
mach 1
S J 10 6 2
H A 7 3
D J 9 7 6 5
C 4
[W - E] mach 2
S A K 9
H 4 2
D A K
C K Q J 7 5 3
Maestro
S 7 4
H J 10 9 8
D Q 10 8 3 2
C A 2
West
Pass
3 C
3NT
North
Pass
Pass
Pass
East
2NT
3 D
Pass
South
Pass
Pass
Pass

East-West arrive at a reasonable but doomed 3NT contract. Gee leads the eight of hearts which is ducked in dummy and won by North’s queen. The club six is returned, to the king and South’s ace. Gee plays a second club which establishes the third and final defensive trick.

Of course this result could have been avoided had North simply returned his partner’s suit at trick two. What North failed to appreciate was Gee’s adherence to the fundamentals of the game, including the “Lead your fourth highest” rule. A simple application of the rule of eleven would have led to the correct defense. Declarer cannot hold a card higher than the eight, therefore Gee must hold the jack, 10, and 9.

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