Join Bridge Winners
One Hand, two plays - Loser on Loser and a Crocodile Coup
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We could see many fine examples of card play watching the world's best at the recent Bermuda Bowl at Wuhan.

This hand is from the first segment of the quarter-finals and features two good plays and one missed opportunity in the play by three of the best players in the world.

West
Q3
AJ1054
J
AKQJ5
North
AK87
Q7
K765
1092
East
J10
K862
Q1098
743
South
96542
93
A432
86
D
3

At five of the eight tables in the Bermuda Bowl, the final contract was 4 and every declarer in that contact successfully guessed the trump queen, reinforcing the standard advice "eight ever, nine never".

The interesting plays come from two of the other tables where north-south found a dive in 4

First, there is some irony in the bidding. At six tables the bidding started with west opening 1 and north making a takeout double. Thereafter the auctions varied: Livgard (Norway), Drijver (Netherlands), M Rimstedt (Sweden) and Jagger (England)  bid a pre-emptive 3; Narkiewicz (Poland) showed a mixed raise with 2; and Nickell transferred to hearts with 2.

Over 3, Versace (Italy), Meckstroth (USA), and Muller (Netherlands) bid 3 immediately and all three (and their partners) sold out to 4. Similarly, Bakhshi (England) bid immediately over Nickell’s 2 transfer and sold out to 4. Perhaps because 3 and even Bakhshi's 2 had overstated their values, north believed there were some defensive prospects and didn't dive but that also meant that south thought if north didn’t want to dive then he had already bid his hand and why would he bid again.

The irony in the bidding is that Chen and Zhuang (China), after Chen opened 1 strong, which especially at these colours usually acts as a red rag to a bull, had the only  uncontested auction to 4.

(The eighth table, also interesting, we will discuss as a postscript at the end.)

At the two tables that dived in 4, Nystrom (Sweden) passed over 3 and Shi (China) passed over the 2 mixed raise but both unilaterally dived in 4 on the next round over west's 4.

At Shi's table, the bidding had been

Buras
Q3
AJ1054
J
AKQJ5
Ju
AK87
Q7
K765
1092
Narkiewicz
J10
K862
Q1098
743
Shi
96542
93
A432
86
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
2
P
4
P
P
4
X
P
P
P
D
3
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Buras led a top club and switched to his singleton diamond with Narkiewicz playing the queen and won in hand with the ace by Shi. Declarer drew trumps and exited in clubs. Buras won and played ace and another heart. Now Narkiewicz exited a diamond. Seemingly, setting up two diamond tricks but Shi lead the 10 and when east was unable to cover floated it to west in this position:

Buras
J10
QJ5
Ju
87
76
10
Narkiewicz
86
98
4
Shi
962
43
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
2
P
4
P
P
4
X
P
P
P
D
3
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

On the club he pitched a losing diamond from hand and simultaneously endplayed Buras into giving a ruff and sluff on which he could discard his second diamond loser.

A great exchange – one club loser for two diamond losers.

The singleton diamond switch which would have been a winning play if east had the A manufactured an endplay for declarer.

Could the defence have done better?

Maybe.

Buras
Q3
AJ1054
J
AKQJ5
Ju
AK87
Q7
K765
1092
Narkiewicz
J10
K862
Q1098
743
Shi
96542
93
A432
86
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
2
P
4
P
P
4
X
P
P
P
D
3
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

On the first club, east gives count or attitude by partnership preference. At the table, Narkiewicz played the seven - good practice if signalling high play the highest card you can afford.

Now if the defence play a second high club, east can give suit preference with his remaining clubs - high, the four for hearts and low, the three with the A. While both remaining club spots with east are low, this should be easy to read as with a doubleton he would have signalled he was ruffing the third round.

That defence is not a guarantee though on all layouts as east might have no A and no K, say he has Q. Then he has no clear suit preference and a third club would have been the best defence - with only two cards remaining in clubs he can't direct west between three suits.

At Nystrom's table, the bidding had been

Nab
Q3
AJ1054
J
AKQJ5
Upmark
AK87
Q7
K765
1092
Drijver
J10
K862
Q1098
743
Nystrom
96542
93
A432
86
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
3
P
4
P
P
4
X
P
P
P
D
3
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Nab started with two rounds of clubs and followed with ace and another heart. Drijver accurately played the third round of clubs annihilating the means for the endplay found by Shi above. Upmark drew trumps and ducked a diamond to west in this position.

Nab
J105
J
J5
Upmark
87
K765
Drijver
86
Q1098
Nystrom
96
A432
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
3
P
4
P
P
4
X
P
P
P
D
3
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Nab won uncomfortably with his singleton jack and had to give a ruff sluff and the second diamond loser vanished into thin air.

Nice play!

Nab
J105
J
J5
Upmark
87
K765
Drijver
86
Q1098
Nystrom
96
A432
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
3
P
4
P
P
4
X
P
P
P
D
3
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Drijver though missed the winning play. If he rises Q on the low diamond from dummy he will swallow his partner's J and even if declarer ducks he will have a safe exit with the T (or any diamond) for +500 and 5 more IMPs.

The promised postscript:

What happened at the eighth table?

The board was won, not in the play but in the bidding.

In a world of hyperaggressive first seat favourable opening bids, at the Bowl only Brogeland opened the south hand here in those conditions.

Sementa
Q3
AJ1054
J
AKQJ5
Lindqvist
AK87
Q7
K765
1092
Bocchi
J10
K862
Q1098
743
Brogeland
96542
93
A432
86
W
N
E
S
 
2
P
2
P
2
3
4
P
P
X
P
5
P
P
P
D
3
5 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Brogeland's 2 was 0-7 with five or more of a major (at these colours) or 24+ balanced or GF any 4441.

Sementa passed on the first round hoping to hear Brogeland rebid spades, and he got his wish. He could bid 3 Michaels. Lindqvist having now heard about the spade fit bid 4 before east west could announce their heart fit. Sementa had to double when 4 came back to him in order to show his values and Bocchi with undisclosed hearts and no doubt enticed by the vulnerability misjudged to bid 5. The defence quickly cashed two spades and there was nowhere for declarer's diamond loser to go. +100 and 12 IMPs for Norway.

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