Staying Alive

You could say of my American partner that he is “a woman’s man” in that he usually has a female partner even if he occasionally makes inappropriate remarks.  An excellent player I guess I am honoured that he partners me off and on the 10 years we’ve been playing online bridge. I have never met him face to face but witnessing his chat messages makes me suspect he is the sort that ladies might say “was not safe in taxis”.

Partnering him last week I picked up this hand with these nice red suits:

I thought of the tip “6-5 = Stay Alive”, i.e. keep on bidding! With a major and minor suit I was pleased it was my 6 card suit that was the major so I could bid it first to make things clear to partner. The other way round 5-6, when I would bid the longer minor suit first, partner might not believe I had a 5 card major too.

The auction went as follows:

We play Blackwood 1430 so North showed 1 Ace with the 5♣ bid. My hand had 4 losers and partner’s 2 level response promised 10+ points so a slam looked like a good bet.  West lead the ♠9 and I saw this was what I had to work with to make 12 tricks:

First thoughts

  1. I am definitely going to lose a club
  2. I have problems with both the K and the K
  3. Entries to table might be an issue – especially after that evil spade lead that had eliminated one immediately.

My plan, such it was, went as follows:

  • Knock out the ♣A and throw two diamond losers on the Q and J hoping the opponents have 3-3
  • Run the J hoping that the K is with East and I catch the 10 along the way
  • Hope the K doesn’t win somehow, somewhere

It sort of worked:

  • I won the lead with the ♠A and played the ♣K from the table
  • West won with the ♣A and continued with a spade which I ruffed
  • I played the A and another diamond which I ruffed on the table
  • Then I played the ♣Q on which East played the  ♣10. This was not a good sign that the ♣J would win but I decided to continue with it anyway.
  • East was indeed out and ruffed the ♣J with the 8.With no choice, I over-ruffed with the Q.

My plans to finesse the K did not look too good now the Q was gone. This was the hand at this stage:


Thinking “it’s alright, it’s okay I’ll live to see another day” I lead the 10 and ruffed with the 9 on the table. Wonder of wonders the K fell from West, making my Q high.

Hoping I’d be “stayin’ alive” I then lead the J from the table. So pleased to see it win the trick and nicely collect the 10 from West as well.

From then on it was easy to ruff a club in hand, play the A to pick up Easts bare K and claim the last 3 tricks with the last two trumps and the Q.

The full hand was:

Partner, who never gives praise, was moved to say “nice play”. And to a man as well. And amused when I confessed I did it with a two beer handicap. (Well it was Friday evening.) But he did not understand when I mentioned drinking a non-alcoholic beer as well “Why??? That’s like kissing your sister”. Oh dear.

I wondered but saw later it would have done East no good to cover the J. Then his remaining trump the 6 would have been smaller than my 7. And if earlier he ruffs with 6 instead of the 8 then I can safely over-ruff with the 7 and keep the Q.



  1. “Stayin’ Alive” is a dance song written and performed by the Bee Gees for the film Saturday Night Fever. It was released on 13 December 1977.


3 thoughts on “Staying Alive

  • 22. Februar 2020 at 23:03

    Thanks for the story. Ruffing the Jack of Clubs was a very friendly gesture from E, he could even spectacularly throw up the King of Diamonds instead. It must be a potion of kindness, what he took as drink that moment.

  • 22. Februar 2020 at 23:23

    I would say not only the defender but also the declarer was a bit drunk when he was bidding!

    • 22. Februar 2020 at 23:46

      Doesn’t matter, since the slam actually was in there, I mean, with this layout. The defender could beat it up, but the declarer can win it unconditionally by different play. Say, it was right beer at Will’s and wrong beer at defender’s.
      But yes, a couple of days ago with a similar hand my guy had no aces to my singletons and no Kings to my good suits, already 5 was in danger.


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