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Answering Sabine's Question

In an earlier post on Bridge Winners, Sabine Auken asked this question.  "Why do YOU think it is important to keep bridge alive?"

For me, the below hand is one of millions of possible answers.  We don't want to lose this stuff from life.

West
Q43
Q8
K1093
Q964
North
J1076
J874
AKJ87
East
108
AK95432
Q2
52
South
AKJ97652
A65
103
W
N
E
S
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
6
5
2
3
1
0
A
3
7
8
3
2
0
K
4
4
10
3
3
0
9
Q
10
3
0
3
1
4
7
5
10
3
4
1
J
8
7
2
3
5
1
7
3
8
4
3
6
1
6
9
J
9
3
7
1
5
10
8
K
3
8
1
3
6
A
2
1
9
1
11 tricks claimed
N/S +450
10

 

This hand occurred in the Cavendish teams – world-class players involved.

 

The play went:

 

  1. Q, 6, 5, 2
  2. A, 3, 7, 8
  3. K, 4, 4, 10
  4. 9, Q, 10, 3
  5. 4, 7, 5, 10
  6. J, 8, 7, 2
  7. 7, 3, 8, 4
  8. 6, 9, J, 9
  9. 5, 10, 8, K
  10. 3, 6, A, 2

 

11 tricks made. 

 

Yes, this is all about overtricks.  And, had the contract been 6, of course declarer would have repeated the club finesse. But there were so many points of interest on this deal that I felt it could be the poster child for why we should want to keep bridge alive, and why everybody should want to learn and understand our game.

 

1)    The first thing to understand is what I call the ‘art’ in bridge – discarding. I like to say that everything in life can be found in bridge – and I call discarding ‘art’. 

Declarer should immediately understand that dummy’s fifth club has no value.  So, rather than discarding two hearts from dummy, one discard should be a club

 

2)    When declarer was on lead at trick 7, this was the position:

 

West
K1093
Q96
North
J
J8
AKJ8
East
AK93
Q2
2
South
765
A65
3
D
---

 

Now declarer ran spades knowing he was not going to repeat the club finesse.  But 12 tricks can be made with no risk – as long as you read the shape.  And West’s most likely shape is his actual one – 3-2-4-4.

Cash two spades pitching a club and a diamond from dummy.  On the last spade, West must pitch 10.  Dummy pitches J.  Now AK squeezes East in the red suits – a non-simultaneous double squeeze.

                       

3)    Of course, West could have prevented this by playing a second heart on winning the Q – that would kill dummy’s last heart.  Which is why a club should be pitched from dummy rather than a heart.

 

4)    In many variations, West may cover the 10 with the Q.  Now declarer CAN make by finessing 8 – but if the non-simultaneous double squeeze is still there, that is probably a better option.

 

5)    If West switches to 10 in an effort to break up the squeeze, declarer can cover with J, then have a show-up squeeze against West.  This defense would be more attractive if West could not see 8 in dummy – if East had Q8 this defense would 'succeed' - at least as far as forcing declarer to guess the clubs.  Of course, in 4, there is a single-dummy flaw here.  After 10,J,Q,A declarer can no longer afford the first-round club finesse.

 

6)    If another heart remained in dummy, and West returned a heart, declarer leads 10.  If West does not cover then the double squeeze still operates.  BUT if West covers, now declarer has to ruff dummy’s last heart to get back to hand – and the non-simultaneous double squeeze is gone.

 

7)    Thus, it turns out that not only should declarer have pitched a club from dummy, he needed to keep ALL THREE of dummy’s hearts.  So the three discards ‘should’ have been one club and two diamonds.  I put quotation marks around ‘should’ because, at single dummy, it’s understandable for declarer to want to keep more diamonds in dummy to try to prevent a diamond shift.  Declarer does not know West has 109 – and if East had one of those a diamond shift would succeed.  I’m pretty sure, had I been declarer, that I would have ‘erred’ and pitched one from each side suit. (Then, if West returned a heart, I’d have to hope he didn’t cover 10.)

I find the need to keep all three of dummy’s hearts fascinating.  Now that’s art!

 

8)    Despite all I’ve said, there IS a winning defense (to stop the second overtrick) on winning the Q.  West must play the diamond KING.  Now East controls diamonds, and there is no squeeze.

I say ‘to stop the second overtrick’ because, in a slam, declarer might still succeed; A, 10 (covered by queen and ace), heart ruff, trumps, and finesse 8 in the 3-card ending.  However, K switch might also succeed against a slam – because declarer might believe it is backed by the Q, and think he has a show-up for 9.

Part of this might depend on how long it takes West to figure out the K switch.  And, also, whether declarer thinks he might have led K on the go with KQ1093 (rather than Q).

 

9)    Another issue on this hand is that if 10 is covered by Q, and declarer thinks West has 4-card clubs, is there any doubt that 8 finesse will win?  Could West really ever cover from Qxxx?  In the 21st century, the answer is probably ‘no’ – how could he risk partner having 9xx?

But maybe in the 31st century it’s possible.  East ‘of course’ gives club count at trick one via the heart with which he follows.  And, in 3019, this won’t even tell declarer the count – because ‘of course’, the count will somehow be encrypted.  Not that declarer knowing really helps him much here.

 

10)  Any other double-dummy points of interest?  Yes.  If West’s opening lead is a diamond, declarer can succeed with 2 club finesses.  And if the Q is the opening lead, West is threatening to cut declarer off from the clubs.  But declarer can still succeed via A (unblocking 10), heart ruff, AK and later finesse 8.

Switch 8 and 6 and now Q opening lead (or any diamond) succeeds.  As does K switch (now the ONLY card) when winning the Q (having led Q).

 

Of the 53,644,737,765,488,792,839,237,440,000 possible bridge deals, the bridge gods decided to deal this one while I was watching that morning.  If I knew everything about all those deals, I think it might make my top billion.  I doubt if it would make my top million – there’s so much I don’t know.  But, of the many hands I DO know, I’d put this one pretty high up.  And that’s true even though there was nothing especially intricate about the analysis.  But the combination of all the points makes it, for me, a truly great hand.

Bridge is the greatest game.

Would I like this hand more or less if 8 and 6 were switched?  I’m not sure….

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