Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

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Ron Bishop was over this afternoon conducting some business with Ray when he mentioned that I had booted a couple of hands recently.  I think the conversation went along these lines… Well I told all the kibitzers that you were the best women declarer in Canada (not my opinion) and that you would make the hand and then you didn’t.  Here is my excuse.  Most of the time on BBO I figure out my plan and then about halfway through executing it the phone rings, or something interesting happens on the background TV or Ray shouts something at me and I just forget my place.  Usually I make the play I planned for two tricks later or something like that.  Anyway, I told him I was in a slump but I promised to do better.  I logged on today and had a good set in a much better than usual pickup game where the opposition were actually a partnership. 

Feeling like I was getting my mojo back I decided to read a bridge book that would teach me something and make me feel good.  I happen to have the whole library of 100+ Masterpoint Press titles to chose from (and many 100’s of others) and my hand lit upon Northern Lights.  These are a wonderful collection of more than 50 stories from the old Canadian Masterpoint magazine.  I read several of them and realized once again how very much I liked them.

There are way to many wonderful articles to even pick a few favourites but here are two stories that relate to some things I have been thinking about lately.  The first article is by Fred Gitelman and it is called "Would you rather be lucky or good"?  Frequent blog readers will notice that I have been on that topic a bit lately as I have been feeling it in my bones after such a narrow loss in the CWTC.  But it made me think about much more.  In this article Fred recounts several occasions where he lost a match on an unlucky hand.  This made me think about several recent occasions where Fred lost the finals of the US team trials so very narrowly.  How important is luck?  Are there people who are luckier than others?  I do think that some people are just lucky and I think for most of us luck runs in streaks, like Zia’s zones.  During the semifinal of the CWTC I noticed that on one round nothing was making.  I stopped pushing on hands and won several boards by winning imps by not bidding game.  This is not generally a winning strategy but it was right that day.

Fred gives a number of examples of his misfortune but this hand is my favourite.  Mary Paul found a terrific lead against 6H which was not bid at the other table.  After that lead Fred went down and failed to qualify for the knockout round of the Canadian team trials.   Fred ends with this summary:

" I guess that the lesson from all this is that whoever wins any given bridge tournament is not the one who plays best on any absolute scale.  The luck of the cards often contributes as much towards who will win as does the skill of the participants.  Be grateful for your luck when you get but don’t get depressed when you don’t.  Luck does eventually even out.

The nature of bridge is that everyone does have a chance to win.  The better you play, the more often it will happen to you."  Now there doesn’t that make you feel better.  Thanks Fred.  (All his example hands are really cool, Fred is such a great write I wish he would do it more.  He has many articles in this book.)

Fred has a wonderful hand about suit combinations too where he talks about how to work out what to do at the table, but Fred you just do it better than I can.

On a related theme Andy Stark has a funny story about playing a slam.  It’s all about driving a car….after all you can get caught speeding, have an accident or simply have a wheel fall off.  Andy goes down in this hand.  You try it.

  S Q763  
  H Q983  
  D AQ95  
  C 2  
  S AKJ8  
  H A764  
  D K  
  C AK108  

With no opposition bidding you arrive in 6S after partner has shown both majors.  The opening lead is the H10 which gets covered by the HQ, HK and your HA.  You cash the SA only to discover that LHO (West) has all five trump.  How do you play the hand?

Let’s say that you start out by cashing your DK and top two clubs, ruffing a club and cashing two diamonds throwing hearts.  Everyone is following to everything.  This is the ending.


  S Q7  
  H 98  
  D 9  
West C East
S 10954   S
H 2   H J5
D   D J10
C   C Q
  S KJ8  
  H 7  
  C 10  

Now you play a diamond ruffing with the SJ as West throws a heart.  You lead the C10 and West is helpless.  Andy missed this and went down in a cold slam.  But wait, it isn’t cold.  Do you see how West can beat you?  Andy did in the post mortem.

But that wasn’t the second article I meant.  It was actually an article called Shorty remembered by Bruce Gowdy where he talks about Shorty Sheardown, Canada’s "Mr. Bridge" after his death in 1993.  He talks about a favourite hand where Shorty had to find a lead against this helpful auction 1NT-3NT with

S xxx H AQx D xxxx C xxx and lead the HA finding partner with H K98xx

The opponents were so incensed that they called the director.  Who could find such a lead.  The director who knew Shorty well said that he suggested that they kibbitz Shorty for the rest of the game and he would be glad to find a substitute pair.

All of this started me thinking about my favourite hands.  I just wish I had a better memory for these things.

Anyway, this book is a great read.  I don’t think the title does it justice.

If you are a Canadian and want to get this from Amazon make sure to go to not Amazon.Ca which only has very overpriced used ones.  Chapters Indigo is a fine source too and of course all the bridge retailers.

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