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Would you ever? Could they pick it? Is that your best chance? Is that your only chance?

Not many pairs play strong Acol 2s these days. Now, we open all kind of weak single or two suiters because we like to get into the bidding quickly, perhaps making life hard for our opponents, at least giving some impression of our hand to partner. Such hands occur much more frequently than the South hand below.

Yet, when it does occur, players have trouble describing such a hand, very strong but not quite a game force. Maybe the jump to 4Spade-small below was meant to be a shut-out as 3Diamond-small was not really good news for South.

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South Deals
Both Vul
10 7
A
Q J 8 6 3
J 7 5 3 2
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
A K Q J 9 6 2
K Q 5
7
A 4
West North East South
      2 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
Pass 6  All pass  

That was not how North saw it and they promptly bid to slam. They could imagine one, maybe two heart losers being ruffed in dummy. Unfortunately, that was not the situation.

West led Club-smallK and you need to make 12 tricks. Oh, there is one way..if the defence are a bit sleepy. Any ideas when maybe they might be a little more alert?

Win the Club-smallA, draw trumps and exit a club. The defence will realise that if you had heart losers, you would not have done that. You are not a beginner! Therefore, your losers must be elsewhere..and whether you are staring at the Diamond-smallA or not, that is the suit to which you would switch…down 1 whoever held the Diamond-smallA.

Much the same would happen if you won the Club-smallA and played a second club immediately. With Blackwood not being used, there was every chance the Diamond-smallA was not in declarer’s hand. At least, that would be something for which West could play for.

A quick death?

So, was there any hope? South tried the effect of not winning the Club-smallA. If West held the Diamond-smallA as well as the Club-smallQ, they would at least have a chance of playing the wrong card at trick 2. And if they did not hold the Diamond-smallA?

South Deals
Both Vul
10 7
A
Q J 8 6 3
J 7 5 3 2
8 4
9 6 3 2
K 9 2
K Q 10 8
 
N
W   E
S
 
5 3
J 10 8 7 4
A 10 5 4
9 6
 
A K Q J 9 6 2
K Q 5
7
A 4
West North East South
      2 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
Pass 6  All pass  

 

Whichever club East played and whatever it meant, it would have been extremely hard for West to find the required diamond switch to beat the contract. Actually, a heart or spade switch would have beaten the contract as well but it did look to West that their partner held the Club-smallA. Thus, after winning the Club-smallK at trick 1, West exited a low club to East’s ace…except that it was South’s ace!

Still Alive!

still alive.png

Next came a heart to the ace and a third club with East signalling the need for diamonds to be played very soon, preferably a couple of tricks earlier! A high ruff meant that South needed two more entries to dummy, the first to play a fourth round of clubs and set up the Club-smallJ, and the second to return there to enjoy playing that card for a discard.

The only two entries were in trumps and thus a trump finesse was required even though declarer could see the top five trumps! There would of course had been no story had the spade to the Spade-small7 lost to the singleton 8 or if the trumps had not broken 2-2. As you can see, it was all good news for South and the slam was made, much, no doubt to East’s chagrin!

Could West have known/ guessed? Had East Club-smallAx, they would/ could/ should have overtaken and played their second club to help their partner. They might even have done that with Club-smallA96. Their failure to do so was suspicious. With West having control of the diamond suit..and presumably clubs as well, a trump switch would be quite a sound action. As you can see, that would have taken out prematurely a vital entry to dummy with the Club-smallA blocking the suit at that point.

That takes nothing away from South’s enterprising duck which was duly rewarded.

This deal was reported in a Bulletin at the 1989 NZ National Bridge Congress in Rotorua though occurred earlier and featured the top controversial but very talented British player, Boris Schapiro. Here’s hoping we have the opportunity to see such enterprising play at the 2020 Congress in just two weeks’ time. This coming Monday will be a critical day in determining whether we will have the opportunity. Here’s hoping…

Meanwhile, flex your muscles on this 3NT. You are a little short of the normal high-card points but hopefully, that will not be a problem.

South Deals
None Vul
J 9 6 3
4
K 10 6
K 9 7 6 5
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
Q 2
A K Q
9 8 5 4 3
A J 10
West North East South
      1 
2  Dbl Pass 3 NT
All pass      

2Heart-small was a weak jump with your partner making a light-weight but reasonable take-out double. What else could you do but jump to game? West leads Heart-small10 to East’s Heart-smallJ. Ducking is neither allowed nor desirable. So, what’s the plan?

Richard Solomon



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