Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Can Women Play Bridge (and should they be on Vugraph)?

Apparently some of the women have been disappointed at the minimal coverage of the women’s matches in the Bulletin.  While some matches have been on BBO they have rarely been on Vugraph here.  Yesterday was an exception.  Ray and I watched the China versus USA 1 final on Vugraph with Barry Rigal running the commentary team.   In the Open Room Karen McCallum was playing with Lynn Baker.  Lynn is the team sponsor and played the first session also.  She is very likely finished her event now.  They were opposed by Yi Qia Liu -Wenfe Wang of China.  In the other room Beth Palmer and Lynn Deas were in for USA playing against Ming Sun and Hongli Wang.

Having been in the same situation I know that a player (especially one who is not used to it) can have some stage fright when they are going to be shown in the Vugraph Room.  Nevertheless, the second match yesterday was hardly an advertisement for women’s bridge.  All of the players make mistakes some of the time but this match had some moments that carried that to an extreme.  Barry did his best to comment on the match in a positive tone although you could see it was an effort at times.  At times when the bridge had moved to the ridiculous you would hear Barry heave a great sigh into the microphone.

Watching several BBO matches featuring women’s teams the bridge has been fairly good.  It would probably have worked better if the scheduler had put USAI and China on Vugraph on for the third set or later when all the professionals were playing.

I found while I was watching (and at times laughing with others) that I resented what was happening.  It was such a terrible advertisement for women’s bridge.  I know that few take it seriously to start with.

Others will write up this match more fully and it is on BBO (Venice Cup Final 2) for anyone who would like to look  Here is one hand I have selected as it is instructive.

Board 20. Dealer West. All Vulnerable.

  ♠ A 7 5 3
♥ K 6
♦ A 5 3
♣ A K 3 2
♠ 8
♥ Q J 10 9 4
♦ 4
♣ Q J 10 8 7 4
Bridge deal ♠ Q J 9 6
♥ 8 5 2
♦ K 10 9 8 7 6
♣ –
  ♠ K 10 4 2
♥ A 7 3
♦ Q J 2
♣ 9 6 5


In the Closed Room,China sitting North-South arrived in 4♠ on this auction:

Lynn Deas Ming Sun Beth Palmer Hongli Wang
pass 1♣ 1♦ 1NT
2♣ DBL 2♦ 2♠
pass 4♠ all pass  


1♣ was strong and the 1NT bid was natural and game forcing and the Chinese women found their way to what looked like a reasonable 4♠.  With normal breaks you would expect to have at most three losers, a spade, a diamond and a club,  On a club lead declarer would have no chance.  But Wang received a diamond lead.  The bidding must have alerted her to the fact that suits were not breaking.  The risk to her contract is a 4-1 trump break.  She correctly started with the ♠A and both defenders followed low.  When she lead a low spade from dummy I am sure she wanted to take the safety play of putting in the ♠9 but there was a significant risk of a club ruff if she lost to the doubleton spade on her left.  She put up the king and the contract was doomed.  Is there any chance to figure it out?  Let’s consider what she knew.  The opening lead is likely a singleton.  It seems likely given the lack of fit and high cards that West has six clubs and a diamond.  Let’s imagine West’s hand then

♠ 8??
♥ ???

♦ 4
♣ Q J 10 8 7 4

This much we know.  West is vulnerable.  Would she really have bid with a hand like this with a singleton in the suit her partner overcalled?

♠ J 8
♥ Q J 10 9
♦ 4
♣ Q J 10 8 7 4

It seems unlikely to me and I believe on a good day I would have got this right.  But Wang’s play was reasonable.

In the Open Room Baker and McCallum arrived in 3NT, a contract which seemed destined to succeed.

Liu McCallum Wang Baker
pass 1♣ 2♦ Dbl
pass 3♦ pass 3NT
all pass      

McCallum opened a natural club and Wang made a preemptive jump overcall.  I am not sure why Baker chose double rather than 2♠ but a negative double is a sensible call and somehow North-South never found their spade fit.  This as it turned out was rather fortuitous.  Baker got a heart lead and ducked it in both hands.  She won the second heart.  Counting her winners she has two spades, two hearts, a diamond and two clubs off the top.  While she expects the diamond finesse to fail, the diamond finesse will provide an eighth winner.  The ninth will come from spades. 

What is the risk to the contract?  Since it is clear that the heart length is on her left and the diamond finesse can only fail to the hand on her right the contract is now ironclad if she plays spades first and she can make three spade winners.  Obviously the safe way to play spades given her lack of spots is to cash the ace and then finesse the ten whether or not West has followed small or with an honor.  The play did not go that way on Vugraph, which led to one of Barry’s sighs.  (One of the other commentators had previously announced that 3NT could not go down but Barry had correctly suggested otherwise).  This board was a push.

How did she play it?  After winning the heart in dummy she led a diamond from dummy — incorrectly attacking the entry to the safe hand, since the diamond finesse would always lose to East, not West.  East won and cleared hearts.  Declarer had now created a new problem for herself since if West got in on spades she could run the hearts to defeat the contract.  If she had decided to cash ♣A at this point she might have been able to count the hand and deduce that luckily East had four spades.  But the advantage of playing a club winner may be hard to see at the table.  Instead she tried cashing the ♠K in the hope that spades split 2-3 and she might be able to lose a spade to East. 

In the end USA had some good results to go along with some poorer ones and the segment ended 33-32 for China.


Nigel KearneySeptember 11th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

I have a suggestion.

Why not have the women’s and open events completely separate – held in different places at different times, as they do with the juniors? Then more people would watch, at least on BBO, they would get more coverage as there would be no events at the same time, and the best women players could play the open as well if they wanted to.

HowardSeptember 14th, 2009 at 10:58 pm

I shall be doing a Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi post on this very question ….in a few days time on the Howard Bigot Johnson blog. Apparantly he has all the answers, backed up of course by relevant medical research and membership survey results. So rest assured there is a definitive answer to this question.

HowardSeptember 28th, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Hi there again, this this the Prof speaking again with an answer to your question. Please let me know how much you agree with my observations. I’m sure I’ve hit upon a few valid points. Yours Hu Chi Ku Chi man.

Linda Lee » Blog Archive » YesterdayNovember 28th, 2009 at 7:52 pm

[…] Blog About Womens Final In Sao Paulo […]

Leave a comment

Your comment