Some bridge hands are so sad that they make you want to cry. At least, that’s how my friend Lou Hobhouse put it when she phoned to tell me about her disastrous duplicate game the previous evening. I should explain that Lou is a bridge teacher in Somerset; she’s hugely popular with her students and sometimes agrees to partner them at her local club. So there she was, playing at Langport Bridge Club with a newish student, and things were going well — indeed, they looked set to win. Then came the last board (illustrated).
Lou could have bid 3♠ over 3♥ but decided to set hearts as trumps by cue-bidding diamonds. West led the ♣K. Lou won and surveyed the hand. Clearly, if the ♥Q fell in one or two rounds, 13 tricks were in the bag. But the odds were against that — and if the ♥Q didn’t fall she was staring at a lot of club losers. The answer, she saw, was pretty dazzling — her student was bound to be impressed. After winning with the ♣A, Lou placed the ♥J on the table! The idea was to lose to the ♥Q while she still had a trump in dummy to ruff a club. After that, she could draw trumps and cash her spades. East, amazed to win her ♥Q, trusted Lou not to have bid a slam with a losing diamond, so she tried her luck with a spade — and now it was Lou’s turn to be amazed: the suit split 5-0 and West ruffed. Lou’s partner looked mystified. ‘It was a safety play…,’ Lou began. ‘But Lou — you told me yourself in Lesson One: always draw trumps!’