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“Fast paced”, “one astonishing cliffhanger after another”, “a real thrill ride”. Those comments might apply to the original reviews ofRaiders of the Lost Ark, or to a hand I witnessed via the Internet during this year’s Cavendish pairs. Early in the 3rd session, ERROR: UNKNOWN USER "joseph-grue" IN INTERNAL PROFILE LINK. Try username, email, or FIRSTNAME LASTNAME. , playing with Brad Moss , faced off against Peter Fredin and Frederic Wrang. At the time each pair was in good position to contend for the title.

Rarely have I seen a hand where each bid and play swung so many IMPs. Like a great action film, I was on the edge of my seat right until the final scene. Most remarkably, I didn’t even know the final result until a week later! Akin to leaving the theater before the end of the flick, I had to run off just as the deal reached its climax.


Here was the full deal:

Fredin
AQ9
8
K83
KQ10975
Grue
5
AJ10632
QJ10754
Wrang
KJ8742
K97
92
62
Moss
1063
Q54
A6
AJ843
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
2N
3
4
4
5
P
P
5
6
X
P
P
P
D
6X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Wrang passed in first seat and after a pass by Moss, Fredin opened 1. At unfavorable vulnerability, Grue bid 2N showing hearts and diamonds. Wrang advanced with 3 and Moss contested further with 4. Now things really started to heat up. West bid 4, a good save against the 10-trick game available to NS. Not unreasonably, North couldn’t resist the urge to press on to 5 with his 6-6. Theoretically, this was a losing decision. With a spade lead, 5 has 3 losers. Bidding one more is often the right strategy in these high-level guessing games, but this particular philosophy was about to get a real workout.

At this point, Fredin and Grue transformed themselves into combatants battling to the death at the edge of a cliff. After two passes, Fredin apparently would be the one plunging to the depths as he took a phantom save at 5. While I was wondering which player NS player would double and end the battle in their favor… Joe Grue took the final fatal turn and bid 6!

Wrang, having heard enough fromhispartner, doubled. Poor Moss, basically an innocent bystander to this point, would be the declarer. What would the damage be? A spade lead would mean two off, while a club lead would let NS off the hook for a mere -200. I awaited Fredin’s lead. It was the 3! Apparently Fredin, one of the world’s most imaginative players, thought that the double might have some Lightner implications. In a flash I saw that the contract was now cold. Moss could win the diamond queen in dummy, play over to the diamond ace, pitch the spade from dummy on the club ace and later trump a diamond in hand. What a turn of events – plus 1660 after all! It was as if a saving hand had suddenly appeared from Providence, and snatched NS from their inevitable plunge. While I would miss the final scene, I was sure of the result now.

Lo and behold, about a week later, while discussing this hand with another Internet kibitzer, I was regaled with the storyline of the final act. It was a shock. I had actually missed the most fascinating part of the deal. Put yourself in declarer’s place after the surprise diamond lead. It seems that the lead is almost surely a singleton. In that case, if you win the diamond queen in dummy and try to return to hand with the diamond ace, West will ruff. You may even be set two tricks, if he can later score the heart king on an overruff.

If LHO happens to hold the heart king, you can make by winning the diamond ace at trick one, discarding the losing spade from dummy and simply picking up trumps. Brad Moss, one of the world’s best declarers, quite reasonably adopted this losing line of play. That was not even the final twist. After winning the diamond ace and taking the discard, Moss led the heartqueen(correct for his assumptions). When this lost to East, a diamond return to the king and another diamond would have allowed Wrang to score a second undertrick with the trump nine! Alas, he failed to find this defense. Perhaps he too was exhausted by the startling series of chaotic twists in this spectacular, action-packed bridge movie. The final result was +200 to East-West, for a 3-IMP pickup. Not much blood spilled after all, but what a show!

Curious what other pairs did on this board? Check out theTraveller from the 3rd Session of the Cavendish.

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