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Marijke van der Pas ( Netherlands )

 

MARIJKE VAN DER PAS, of Utrecht, is a professional bridge journalist. One of the top women players in the Netherlands and a regular member of the team for many years, she won the European Pairs in 1980 in partnership with Elly Schippers. The Dutch women's team were a powerful force in women's bridge throughout the 1980s but never quite managed to win anything, hence Marijke's international team record: second in the Venice Cup in 1989, second in the European Championship in 1983 and 1989, third in the Team Olympiad in 1984, third in the European Championships in 1979 and 1991.

 

THE playing strength of a seven-card suit is enormous. Even a 7-0 fit is manageable. Get that into your head and don't put your seven-carder down in dummy.

If you started bridge with lessons, you will remember the ones about the 4-4 fit in a major. Time after time the teacher hammered home this point. The first convention you learnt was Stayman, to be sure none of those 4-4 fits would be missed. After a few lessons you even saw 4-4 fits in your dreams.

You didn't realize it at the time, but  had been   completely brainwashed; so effectively that, even at a very high level, many bridge players can't give up the idea of the holy 4-4 fit.

 

North Dealer

 A K 7 4

 

 

 

Game All

 K Q J 10 7 3 2

 

 

 

 

 ---

 

 

 

 

 9 2

 

 

 

 

 

           N

 

 

10 3

 

 

 9 8 2

 A 4

 

W                    E

 9 6 5

 K Q J 7 5

 

 

 A 10 8 2

 Q 10 6 3

 

 

 J 8 4

 

 

 

            S

 

 

 

 

 Q J 6 5

 

 

 

 

 8

 

 

 

 

 9 6 4 3

 

 

 

 

 A K 7 5

 

 

                           

W

N

E

S

 

1

NO

1♠

NO

4

NO

5♣

NO

5

NO

6♠

NO

NO

NO

 

After the lead of the king of diamonds, ruffed in dummy, West was on lead again with the ace of hearts. After another diamond declarer was in trouble. Six Spades went down despite a friendly trump break; Six Hearts, even with the heart suit 4-1, is laydown.

 

THE attraction of a good fit is amazing. Did you ever ignore a 5-4 fit?

It is November 1991. The ten top teams in the Netherlands are playing 27 matches to determine the 1991 Dutch champions. All the tables are playing the same hands. On the deal below, all Norths opened One Spade (some promising five cards), East passed, and almost all. Souths raised to Four Spades.

 

 

North Dealer

 A K 7 3 2

 

 

 

Love All

 3

 

 

 

 

 A 7 3 2

 

 

 

 

 Q 9 8

 

 

 

 

 

             N

 

 

 J 5

 

 

Q 8

 A K 9

 

W                    E

 Q

 K 10 4

 

 

 Q J 9 8 6

 A K J 6 3

 

 

 10 7 5 4 2

 

 

 

              S

 

 

 

 

 10 9 6 4

 

 

 

 

 J 10 7 6 5 4 2

 

 

 

 

 5

 

 

 

 

  ---

 

 

 

West doubled Four Spades and East bid 4NT for the minors. Four South players then bid on to Five Spades. Even after the lead of the queen of hearts there are no entries to develop the heart suit. Whatever you do there are no more than eight tricks in a spade contract. Only two players remembered the playing strength of their own suit and bid Four Hearts over the One Spade opening bid. As you can see, even my aunt Annie would make Four Hearts.

The ten North-South results were: one each of +590, +420 and -100; three -300s; and four -500s. Surprised?

 

ANOTHER place, another time: Denmark , Easter 1992. The national teams of Norway , Sweden , Denmark and the Netherlands are playing a competition as part of their training for the Olympiad in Salsomaggiore.

 

 

Dealer West

 K Q J

 

 

 

EW Vul.

 10

 

 

 

 

 K 9 6 3 2

 

 

 

 

 A 10 8 2

 

 

 

 

 

             N

 

 

 9 8 7 5 4 3

 

 

10 6

 7 3

 

W                    E

 9 8 4

 -

 

 

 A J 10 7

 K 9 6 4 3

 

 

 Q J 7 5

 

 

 

              S

 

 

 

 

 A 2

 

 

 

 

 A K Q J 6 5 2

 

 

 

 

 Q 8 5 4

 

 

 

 

  ---

 

 

 

North opens One Diamond. Which contract do you want to play as South? One pair bid:

 

SOUTH NORTH

                1

2            2NT

3            3

5NT          6

Pass!

 

One brainwashed South even managed a pass after a double of Six Diamonds ... ! If your partner has a void in hearts, Six Hearts is still a contract without any problem.

Results: -100 once, -50 five times, +980 four times. Are you astonished?

 

My BOLS bridge tip is very simple:

 

Remember the playing strength of a long suit and don't try too hard to find or support another fit.

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