Ross Taylor

Down one is good bridge

Sometimes an innocuous hand is worth looking at, even though it’s a partscore. In this case, our hero found a way to go down only one vulnerable, playing a contract of 2 spades in the final stages of an important pairs competition. Here was the layout:


Dealer: North

Vul: NS

West East
A104 QJ
K10984 QJ6
J532 Q76
4 KJ976


North opened the bidding one diamond; South responded one spade, and North rebid 1NT. South decided it was percentage to play the hand in spades, and so he rebid two spades, which ended the auction.

The opening lead was West’s singleton club. South not unreasonably finessed the queen, losing to East’s king.

East returned the spade queen. South ducked. Then came the spade jack, and South ducked again, hoping the ace would pop up on his left. No such luck – so now all the trumps were gone except for West’s ace.

East now played the heart queen; South won dummy’s ace as West overtook with the king.

South was oblivious to the club split at this point. He travelled to his diamond king and led a club towards the board’s A10. West showed out (pitching a heart) and now South realized he was in very real danger of going down two for minus 200.

He won the club Ace, and saw one last extra chance. He cashed the diamond Ace, and played another diamond from dummy. When East followed suit with the queen, South eschewed the obvious ruff, but instead pitched his losing heart.

A classic Scissors Coup – severing communications between the defenders’ hands and preserving a score of down only 1. Here was the layout at the pivotal moment, with dummy leading the diamond ten :


Dealer: North

Vul: NS

West East
A void
1098 J6
J2 Q
void J96


When South pitched his heart on East’s diamond queen (an exchange of losers) , the defense could do no better than beat the contract one trick. (West’s hand could not now be reached in hearts for the final trump play)

Minus 100 was an above average board for North -South – several pairs went down two in 2 spades, and some others were down one or two in 1NT.

This was just enough matchpoints to preserve the overall win. Of such small things are events often won and lost.


Daniel KorbelJanuary 31st, 2010 at 11:25 pm

If East was really “dialed in” he could have thrown the dQ under the dA and prevented this play. However, it was still a nicely played hand by South.

Dave (Memphis MOJO)February 2nd, 2010 at 12:48 am

Nicely played. I’m guessing you were south.

Ross TaylorFebruary 2nd, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Sometimes a hand needs a setting or a background story to maintain the reader’s interest. The truth is perhaps too bland Dave. But I will pass on the compliment thank you.

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