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How Good A Player Was Barry Crane? You Be The Judge
(Page of 2)

Barry Crane is once again in the news. How good a player was he? Read on.

The following hand was first reported in The Bridge World, sometime, I believe, during the 70s. The author was the incomparably witty Frank Vine, whose untimely death was a great loss to bridge writing. The hand has since been republished in North of the Master Solvers Club, ISBN 978-1-897106-40-2 by Master Point Press.

West
J983
J3
KJ3
A654
North
AK7
K854
Q102
J109
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1NT
X
P
P
P

Crane was sitting West, and led the 3 against 1Nx. Declarer played the A, partner followed with the 4 (standard signals), 2 from declarer. Declarer continued with J to partner's 8, his 5 and Crane ducked. Another follows, partner completed an echo; Crane ducked again, and on the third his partner discarded the 6. Before continuing to the next page, decide how you would defend.

I daresay that you won the ,  and either continued or switched to the J. Providing you are careful you collect +100 and, in the words of Frank Vine, "earn your usual average".

Crane ducked the not once, not twice, but thrice. With visions of making the contract dancing before his eyes, declarer now set about establishing a seventh trick, and led a to the 10 and partner's A. A came back, declarer won his Q to lead another up. Crane won his K, and only now cashed his A; dummy was squeezed in three suits; +300. Partner's hand: 654 AQ1062 A86 82.

That clever trick four duck never occurred to me seeing Vine's original article. It detracts not at all from the excellence of Crane's defense that it required South's misguided participation.

I hope you enjoyed the hand.

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