Missed defensive signal costs Burglar big time

John “Unlucky Louie” and partner Jason “Geek” Cohen scored a pretty impressive victory — at least if you go by the numbers — at the Tuesday luncheon meeting of our office Bridge Club, beating the pair of Pieter “Cy the Cynic” VanBennekom and Joan “Not Miss Timid Anymore” Rightnour by a total score of 1,290 points to 90.

However, part of the points they won by were the result of a “gift” due to less-than-sharp defense.

“Louie” and Jason won the only completed Rubber, two Games to none, with the first Game being the result of two partials, both played by John, a 2 Spades contract and a One No-Trump hand, both made on the nose with precision bidding.

Then “Louie” finished the Rubber with a 4 Hearts Game contract that he should not have been able to make, a hand that will become the featured hand of the day. (In the unfinished second Rubber, “Cy” and Joan were ahead, 90 points to 70, on the strength of a 3 Spades contract by “Cy” and a 2 NT contract by “Louie,” but neither side managed to complete a Game.)

The featured hand of the day was marked by spirited bidding. Jason opened with a strong 1 No-Trump bid and as the first defender to bid next, “Cy” launched a pre-emptive 3 Spades bid. After thinking long and hard, “Louie,” as Jason’s partner, bid Game in 4 Hearts. After thinking long and hard on her part, Joan also passed. (She did have King-Queen in her partner’s seven-card Spade suit, so she might have sacrificed in 4 Spades).

In any event, Louie’s 4 Hearts bid got passed around (if “Cy” had then bid 4 Spades, he could have had the director called on him over Joan’s long hesitation) and “Louie “got to play it. Joan collected her two top Spades on the first two tricks. Her partner “Cy” threw a very low Spade on the first trick but a high 8 on the second. After two tricks, it was obvious that now everyone but “Cy” was out of Spades, so Joan had to shift suits for the next lead. Not knowing what to lead, she just led a Heart (trump). “Louie” was then able to give up one trick in Clubs to Cy’s Queen but claim the rest of the tricks with Jason’s strong Diamonds to make his contract.

“Didn’t you see my signal?” Cy asked Joan afterward.

“What signal?” said Joan.

“I threw a high Spade on the second trick to tell you to lead the higher of the two remaining suits, which were Diamonds and Clubs. I wanted you to lead a Diamond. I was void in Diamonds, so if you lead one, I get a ruff and his contract goes Down One,” Cy explained.

“I totally missed that one,” Joan admitted. “That went right over my head. But I think I could have figured it out another way. I had five little Diamonds and there were five Diamonds in the dummy, so between the two of us we had a lot of Diamonds. There was a good chance someone was void in them, and since you were very long in Spades with your pre-emptive bid, I should have taken a chance that you were void in Diamonds.”

“You’re absolutely right,” said Cy. “Even if you missed my signal, you had another very good reason to lead a Diamond.”

Did that defensive miscue take some luster away from the victory by Louie and Jason? That depends on who you ask. “You shouldn’t have made that Rubber,” said Cy. “On the scoresheet we win by 1,200 points — that’s the bottom line and that’s all that counts,” said Louie.

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