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Playing Double Dummy in the Vanderbilt

Bridge Winners has discussions on all aspects of bridge. Whether the discussion is about bidding, card play, signalling, the etiquette of claiming, bridge politics, etc., one thing I have noticed is that the average club player has a completely different perspective than the true expert. Novice players often marvel when an expert, with only a couple of pieces of key information, is able to play or defend a hand double-dummy. To help club players improve their understanding of the game of bridge when played at the top level, I will present a couple of hands from the recent Memphis Vanderbilt.

In the round of 16, SELIGMANwas matched against MITTELMAN. The SELIGMANTeam consisted of Platnick-Diamond and Brogeland playing with Marty Seligman and Steve Beatty. Marty has placed 2nd in both the Blue Ribbon Pairs and the IMP pairs while Steve has several 1st and 2nd place finishes in open NABC events. Boye Brogeland needs no introduction. Our opponents were Pachtmann-Zatorski and Mittelman-Bercuson. Ken Bercuson was an expert player from the D.C. area who took a long hiatus from the game, but has recently returned with spectacular results. His team of 4 has placed 2nd in the last two Reisingers, losing each by less than a board.

Here is the first of the two hands. All red in second seat, I pick up:

East
A8543
A32
Q7632

My screenmate/RHO, Ron Pachtmann, opens Multi. On balance, I feel that playing Multi and Polish 2-bids (2M = 5M + 5m) is very effective. One disadvantage of Multi is that it allows an overcall of 2. Assuming RHO had spades, I took advantage of this opportunity and bid 2.

After my 2 bid, the tray came back in 4 seconds (much too fast, but that is for another article). LHO passed and partner bid 3NT. After 2 passes on my side of the screen, the tray goes back to the other side. I’m all set to collect my bidding cards, ask our kibitzer to play the dummy, and take a short break. However, the tray didn’t come back for a few minutes. When the tray finally returns, we see the red card and the blue card. Pachtmann asks about our agreements and I tell him that the redouble = Penalty. After considering whether to run or not, Pachtmann decides to waka waka out of 3NT and bids 4. I have an easy double. This is passed around and now Pachtmann redoubles.Zatorski bids 4, and JD doubles, ending the auction.

While waiting for several minutes for JD to lead, Ron (we are now on a first-name basis) and I chat. He asks to see my hand, and I show him, then he shows me his hand. An additional minute or two go by, then, Ron turned to me and said, “Wait a minute, I opened 2. It’s your lead.” After an embarrassed laugh, we both agree to play the hand as if we didn’t know the cards. Luckily, there wasn’t much to the play and we collected +800 giving new meaning to the term “double dummy.” At the other table, Brogeland opened 2, which ended the auction, and somehow managed to take 7 tricks.

The second hand was even more unusual. I will give you the hand from the perspective of Brogeland, who was dummy. Favorable, he picked up:

North
5
AJ64
K8643
864
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
4
5
P
P
X
P
P
P

His RHO led the K, which held the trick, LHO playing the 10 as suit preference for hearts. RHO shifted to the 3. Declarer played low and won the Queen. Click the NEXT button in the diagram below to follow the play for the first 5 tricks:

West
Dummy
5
AJ64
K8643
864
East
South
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
4
5
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
5X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
5
10
2
0
0
1
3
4
9
Q
3
1
1
K
2
4
A
2
1
2
3
Q
7
6
3
2
2
4
5
J
K
2
2
3
5

After everyone turned over his card for trick 5, Brogeland asked his partner, “Why does your last card have a yellow back, but the rest of your cards are blue like ours?” No one at the table noticed that the 4, which was played from dummy at trick 2, made another appearance at trick 5. This table seemed to be playing “Quadruple Dummy.” The director was called, and determined that the extra card was from the previous board. Declarer had only put 12 cards back and accidentally left the 4 on the table. Then when he took his cards for the next hand, he picked up the extra card, never noticing during the bidding or play that he had 14 cards.

So the next time an expert opines about bridge, you should listen. Then you too can play double-dummy like an expert.

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