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Imagination is more important than real life experience

 

by Bernard Marcoux, Sainte-Adèle, Québec

     

Playing in a Swiss, you’re just above average after 4 rounds.  After lunch, you need at least 2 blitzes if you want to finish honorably.  In the 5th match, you meet a good team that you’ve beaten before.  Once in a KO final, on the final board of a 4 board tie-break, you led a small heart from Kxx against 6.  Partner won the ace and came back heart: one down.

So, on the 1st board of the 5th match, after 2 passes, your LHO, vulnerable, opens 1 with 8 points.  His partner bids 2, all pass and we score +200.  That should be a good start.  That decision by an experienced player to open 1 with 10xxxx in spades, really surprises you.  It is bad bridge, like trying to be too smart. The rest of the match goes well.  You give nothing away on defense.  You make a 4 with 4 potential losers, the same experienced player switching to a suit you needed to guess and then make 460 in 3NT against soft defense.

On the last board, partner plays 4 after a 3 preempt on his right.

 

LHO            Part.                RHO               You

3                p                      p                      x

P                  4                    all pass

 

 

Dummy

K 10 x

5 x

A K J x x

Qxx

 

Declarer

A Q x x x x

6x

8x

K x x

 

The lead is the HK.  RHO overtakes with the Ace, cashes the Queen and switches to a small club.  Declarer plays small, LHO wins the Ace and plays back a club, RHO following, and declarer wins the King.

 

How do you play the spades?  The only thing that can beat you is a 4-0 split.  Can LHO have all 4 of them?  He already showed 7 hearts and 3 clubs.  If he has 4 spades, he has 14 cards.  Impossible then.  So you just have to play Ace of spades.  If everyone follows, you claim.

 

Not taking the bidding and the play of the cards into account (how many times did we repeat that?), my partner played a spade to the King, went down in a cold contract and, instead of winning by 5 or 6, we lost by a similar margin.

 

  That was it for me.  I know I am not supposed to do that, but I lost all interest and just felt like quitting. 

 

The rest of the day, I just pushed cards, trying not to make mistakes, but not really caring.

 

In the next to last match, I find myself in 4, vul vs not.

 

Me      LHO   Part.    RHO

1        2       2NT       p

3        p          4        pass

  

LHO leads the HQ.

 

Dummy

Q x

A x x x

10 x x x

A Q x

 

You

K J 8 7 x x

K x

A x

6 x x

 

 At least 4 losers.  With the overcall, the club King should be placed, that is your only chance.  You need to assume that.  And you can still have 2 trump losers.  If trumps behave and the club king is with LHO, you will make 4.  But when things seem easy, prepare for the worst.  Having lost interest (have I said that before?), I played for a 3-2 trump break and went down.  After the match, in the hall, I played and replayed the hand in my head.

 

I won the K and played a spade to the Queen.  LHO played small, RHO won the Ace and played a diamond.  I won and played my other diamond.  LHO won and played a second heart.  I won the Ace.  How should I play?

 

I need 10 tricks.  I can count on 2 hearts, 1 diamond and 2 clubs.  So I need 5 trump tricks.  If trumps break, no problem, but…  If trumps are 4-1, RHO should have all 4 trumps, exactly A109x.  Will you play a trump to your 8, losing to the 9 or 10 doubleton offside if trumps are 3-2?  Do you see a better way?

 

Wandering in the hall, wishing this damn Swiss would be over, the solution finally dawned on me and I realized I had committed a mortal sin against beauty.  And I realized also I robbed myself of the greatest pleasure there is: imagine a hand, place the cards in the opponents’ hands, play accordingly and find out, afterwards, you had imagine exactly the distribution.

I write novels and, like the famous author John Irving (The world according to Garp, 1980 something; A widow for one year, 2000 something) says: One must imagine a good story; (…) Personal experience is overrated, but observation is essential.

 

Imagination is far better at creating believable stories than real life experience.  Of course, like John Irving says, if a detail is inspired by real life, it is ok, but it is not necessary.

 

Bridge is the same: imagination and visualization are the most important tools.

 

Do you see the pleasure I missed?

 

Why not ruff out the diamonds and the hearts?  While ruffing the hearts, LHO cannot over ruff even if he has the trump 10.  With this plan, the spade break is irrelevant.  Plan the play exactly.  In dummy with the H Ace, you can play a diamond and ruff, 5th trick.  Now play a club to the Queen, 6th trick.  Now a heart ruffed, 7th trick.  Another club to the Ace, 8th trick.  The 4th heart from dummy will see you home.

 

If RHO ruffs, you just discard your losing club and claim.

 

If he discards, you ruff low and play KJ of spades, making 4.

 

Isn’t that beautiful?

 

My play, sloppy and careless, result of my loss of interest, was really a sin against beauty.