GAMES MAY BE QUIETLY DEFENDED

BUT SLAMS MUST BE ATTACKED.

by Benito Garozzo (Italy)

Benito Garozzo developed his game after the war in Egypt. (‘In those days I was the big expert’, Léon Yallouze once told me with a smile.) In 1957 Benito played a tournament in London with D’Alelio. He played in his first world championship in 1961 and from then on was unbeaten in Bermuda Bowl and Team Olympiad competitions until 1976.

Garozzo and Forquet were an unbreakable rock in match play, and whenever Garozzo was teamed with Belladonna in one of the big pairs events the only question, in Walter Hagen’s phrase, was ‘Who’ll be second?’

Benito has a jewellery business in Rome, with contacts in America. Dark, on the short side, he stands with his shoulders back, wavy hair curving away from an impressive forehead and spectacles. Away from the table he is the most polite and unassuming of men, but with thirteen cards in his hand he becomes a demon, his brain never resting from attempts to cause alarm and uncertainty.

Doing the commentary on Vu-Graph for the 1978 European Championship in Denmark, I saw a great deal of his partnership with Arturo Franco. Benito, I realised, was not an overbidder but above all a ‘pressure’ player, constantly involving his opponents in difficult decisions. His Bols Tip, characteristically, is entitled ‘Against a Slam Contract, ATTACK!’

‘Heroic measures are rarely needed when leading against a game contract. The defenders can expect to get the lead again after the dummy has been exposed, and the early play offers further clues to what they should do.

‘Not so against slams. Unless two tricks can be cashed at once, the defence must strike a telling blow to develop the setting trick by the opening lead. Later is too late.

‘The one factor that works in favour of the defence is that declarer is rarely willing to risk immediate defeat if any alternative seems attractive. And sometimes such an alternative can be created by the lead itself. For example, your opponents have bid to six diamonds as follows:

South North
  1§
2¨ 3§
3¨ 3ª
4NT 5©
5NT 6¨
Pass  

Sitting West, you hold:

ª Q 9 5 2

© K 8 4

¨ J 5 3 2

§ K J

‘In most ways your defensive prospects are poor. The K-J of clubs look dead, underneath the rebid suit, the king of hearts is unlikely to take a trick. But do not despair: you have one asset the dealer knows nothing about – your trump trick.

‘Lead the jack of clubs. The fact that you let him see the jack makes it even more likely that he will be able to establish the suit with no more than a single loser. In fact, the jack would be the right card from K – J – x as well. The full hand:

 

    ª A 8    
    © Q J 3    
    ¨ 4    
    § A Q 10 8 6 3 2
ª Q 9 5 2   N   ª J 10 7 6 3
© K 8 4 W   E © 9 7 6 5 2
¨ J 5 3 2   ¨ 8
§ K J   S   § 5 4
    ª K 4    
    © A 10    
    ¨ A K Q 10 9 7 6
    § 9 7    

‘Declarer knows that he can establish the clubs by giving up a trick to the king, but why should he risk doing so when there is a danger of a ruff? He goes up with §A and by the time he finds out he must lose a diamond it is too late. On any other lead he must make the contract.

‘Not quite so clear is how to attack South’s Slam contract after the following bidding:

 

South North
1¨ 1ª
2§ 3¨
3NT 4§
4NT 5©
6¨ Pass

‘Sitting West, you hold:

ª K 7 6 2

© K 1083

¨ 975

§ 62

 

‘It sounds as though the opponents have reached a "momentum" slam, which may not be reached at the other table. So it is even more important for you to defeat it with your lead. How much do you know?

‘ North is surely short in hearts and declarer has few spades, so a trump lead seems promising. But wait! Neither opponent has indicated long trumps and both seem to have length in clubs. On such deals it is rarely necessary to stop a cross-ruff, because declarer is unable to cash enough tricks in his long side suit – in this case, clubs. However, if he needs to pick up a twelfth trick, you know that a spade finesse is going to succeed. How can you point him away from that line of play?

‘What is partner going to contribute to defence? From the fact that South didn’t bid 5NT (as he did on the previous deal) it is possible that his side is missing an ace – probably the ace of hearts. If not, you can still hope for the queen of hearts, because – yes, you are going to lead the king of hearts!

    ª A Q 10 8    
    © 7    
    ¨ K J 4 2    
    § A 10 7 4    
ª K 7 6 2  

N

  ª J 9 4 3
© K 10 8 3 W   E © A 5 4 2
¨ 9 7 5   ¨ 10 6
§ 6 2  

S

  § J 5 3
    ª 5    
    © Q J 9 6    
    ¨ A Q 8 3    
    § K Q 9 8    

‘When your king of hearts holds the first trick, you shift to a spade. Declarer may decide that your lead has made it unnecessary for him to rely on the spade finesse. All he need is a ruffing finesse through your marked ace of hearts, because he can ruff two spades and throw one of the established heart – except that when he runs the queen of hearts your partner takes the trick!

‘Given any other lead, declarer simply must take the winning finesse in spades’.

Benito gave one other deal, but it didn’t add much to the sensational lead of the king of hearts, and as a matter of fact there was a slight overstatement in the analysis. Did you notice, by the way, how the last deal tied up with Tony Priday’s advice on the question of camouflage?

Having sharpened your mind by a study of Garozzo’s thought-process, see what you can make of a lead problem that arose in a match between Australia and Sweden in the 1977 Bermuda Cup. At game all the bidding goes:

South West North East
1NT Pass 2© Pass
2ª Pass 3© Pass
3ª Pass 6ª Pass
Pass Pass    

South’s 1NT opening is 15-17 and North’s response of 2 hearts is a transfer to two spades. As West, what would you lead from:

ª Q 8 7 4

© 10 8

¨ 10 7 5 4

§ A Q 8

North is likely to hold five spades (at least) and South three spades. With           ªQ-x-x-x and a side ace, you must fancy a forcing game..

What do you make of the club situation? Players with singletons generally make some form of ace-enquiry on the way to a slam. So North, in view of his leap to six spades, is probably void of clubs. To weaken the dummy while still holding §A for a later force, West must underlead the ace of clubs.

The exciting thing is that Anders Morath, of Sweden, who earlier in the year had won the Bols Brilliancy Prize, did so. The full hand was:

    ª K 10 9 5 3    
    © A 9 6 5    
    ¨ A Q 6 2    
    § ---    
ª Q 8 7 4  

N

  ª 6
© 10 8 W   E © Q 4 3 2
¨ 10 7 5 4   ¨ 8 3
§ A Q 8  

S

  § J 9 7 4 3 2
    ª A J 2    
    © K J 7    
    ¨ K J 9    
    § K 10 6 3    

Dick Cummings, the Australia declarer, in his own words, ‘accepted the force with the air of a man who does not enjoy early commitment’. However, he found both major-suit queens and laboriously slotted twelve tricks.

If you are to amount to anything at this game, you must build up a picture of the unseen hands.