Ross Taylor

Foiled again

Cruising along in the late stages of a Regional Open Pairs, my partner and I sat down against two earnest ladies competing in the concurrent Flight C event. They were tired and defeatist to be playing us, so we did our best to lift their spirits, feeling rather good about things thus far. The first board out of the box I picked up    void  KQ6432  AJ32  642     in second chair, white versus red.

I opened 1 heart, my LHO bid 2 clubs. Partner bid 3 clubs, RHO bid 3 spades, and I bid 4 hearts. A few seconds later, partner placed me in 6 hearts, and the lead was the ace of clubs.


Ross’s partner


East followed suit painlessly, and west continued with the club king. I ruffed in dummy, and prepared to lean forward to claim. However, east over ruffed the dummy with the heart ten, and I could feel the heat rising inexorably at the back of my neck.

Being an ‘expert’, I immediately looked for salvation for the post mortem, and did some rapid mental calculations to determine if it is higher percentage to ruff with the ace of hearts (hoping trumps are not 3-0, but avoiding an 8-1 club split). I wasn’t thinking too clearly, but my gut told me my play was defensible – albeit laughable. Truth is, I had not seriously considered these issues at trick one. (shame on me, but one would expect a more exuberant action than a quiet 2 clubs from AKQ10xxxx)

“It was my only hope partner, sorry I didn’t lead your suit”, said west.

My partner made a noble effort to keep a straight face, and we scored up 0.5 on a twelve top.

On the companion board, this same lady sitting west found herself in 7 hearts on the following layout. (hands rotated)


Dealer: north

Vul: N-S

her partner  
Ross’s pard Ross
10863 9752
852 97
QJ85 K64
105 Q764
  our heroine  


She made short work of this hand. She won the trump lead, drew trumps, ran the spades, and hooked the club jack at trick twelve to bring home the grand slam.

This time we scored a complete zero. Most pairs bid the small slam. Those who ventured into 7 hearts all went down. They took the “expert line” of cashing two rounds of trumps then trying to ruff a club in dummy.

” Well done partner!” said dummy.

“Thanks, it was on a finesse.”

These boards brought us back to the pack as we headed to the last round. This time we were playing against the defending champions. The first board was flat, but the final board of the event was a cracker.


Dealer: west

Vul: N-S

Defending champ #2  
Ross’s partner Ross
KQJ xxxx
AKxxx QJxxx
xxxx Q10
x Qx
  Defending champ #1  


Partner opened 1 heart in first chair, and north said double. I jumped to 4 hearts, which came back to north who perhaps rued not bidding 2 clubs at his first turn. He could now have made a reasonably comfortable double. Instead, he bid a discomfited double, and was charmed to hear his partner bid 5 clubs! All passed.

Partner led the heart ace, and shifted to the spade king. Declarer ducked the spade, playing the nine from hand. Partner next played the jack of spades, won in dummy with the ace.

Declarer peeled off six rounds of clubs, coming down to:




West East
Q x
void Q
xxx Q10
void void


My partner had been forced to throw away all his hearts and finally his fourth diamond on the run of the clubs, the pressure coming to bear on his spade honour and diamond length. Had declarer begun with Qx of hearts, I suspect the ending would have been rather pretty. (west squeezed in three suits)

Still, this declarer was no slouch. He decided from the discards that I had begun with 4-5-2-2 shape, and my partner (west) with 3-5-4-1 shape. The odds clearly favored the diamond queen in my partner’s hand. But that would not help south. If he finessed partner for the diamond queen, he would not be able to get back to his hand to enjoy the long diamond.

So he backed up his card reading, and played for his only legitimate hope. He played the diamond king from dummy, followed by the jack, picking off my Q10 doubleton offside! Making five, and no matchpoints for us once again.

As you might expect, our score did not stand up at the end. 3 zeroes in the final four boards will do that to you.

But I was genuinely thrilled to catch up with the two C flight ladies at the recap sheets, and shared their joy as they discovered they had won their event. From foibles come rewards.

Post mortem

The two ladies’ slam hands reminded me of one of my all time favorite hands from thirty years ago, playing with a very elderly lady admirer at the local club one night. She opened 3 spades vulnerable versus not, in first chair, and I held something like           void   Kxxx  xxxx   xxxxx.

My right hand opponent said double. (I noticed they were playing the dreaded Fishbein convention – a curse to all aggressive preemptors, as doubles of 3 level preempts are for penalties.)

With fear and sympathy in my heart for my poor partner, I passed and awaited the carnage.

God bless her, she had eight solid spades and out, but with a doubleton heart. The heart ace was onside and she chalked up her doubled contract (with 13 combined HCP) in ten seconds flat !


Howard Bigot-JohnsonApril 20th, 2010 at 4:14 am

Nice stories….interesting hands……….highly readable style of writing. HBG

Julie BerdockApril 20th, 2010 at 9:37 am

And so the game of matchpoints once again proves that “anyone” can beat “anyone” in a 2 board set. It pleases me to hear you congratulated the Flight C winners because, trust me when I say, you made their day. One thing Flight C players DO KNOW is who the better players are and when they are able to come away with dry underarms and good results against them, it encourages them to return to the table yet again. From my perspective, you were severely punished (who knew it was necessary to ruff with the Ace?) and probably didn’t deserve your fate. Three boards in a row like the ones you described make me sad but the “bar” stories after the game always entertain the masses!!

Jim PriebeApril 20th, 2010 at 10:02 am

great hands

Bill KoskiApril 20th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Ross, you have a lot more success stories than failures but when it’s not your day, the percentages are not your friend. Great hands!

Q 10 doubleton! I would have settled for the inferior +300 on this auction. I guess that is why I have had so many seconds.

Chuck ArthurApril 20th, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Great stories… great hands!!

lorraine HerlickApril 20th, 2010 at 10:56 pm

It’s always fun to see C players beat up A players who are of Ross’s calibre.

BlairApril 22nd, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Life in the fast lane after 30 years of bridge seems to slow so that every living moment is a reminder of events long past. So is the story you spin today. Just a delight to read and so ” totally awesome ” as they say here in Viet Nam…I will eagerly await more of these adventursome tales as it made my day…Thanks Ross

John GowdyApril 22nd, 2010 at 11:24 pm

A couple of years ago I’m playing in a pairs game with a top Canadian player. A “C” pair lucks out on a hand and my partner goes a bit nuts. I take him outside and try to explain that this result may be the highlight of their bridge life and that by being a poor sport he robbed them . A round later against two ” older” ladies one asks me if I remember a hand 10 years ago when after she got a top board I said “well done you tricked me”. “I sure do” I lied ….” hope you go easy on me today”. She beamed and to this day I’m not sure if partner got it. Your ladies will remember that hand and you for life….. well done !

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