The Bridge World Sampler

   Some bridge deals are intriguing in themselves, others because of the way they repeat a theme. Some deals involve circumstances so specific that they may entertain us without offering lessons, others are instructive in that they represent principles of card play that can profitably be applied elsewhere. Deals that are both entertaining and instructive are the ones most likely to be published.

Benito's Secret
by David J. Weiss

   Try this defensive problem from the 1979 Bermuda Bowl. You are East, defending three notrump:

  NORTH (dummy)
S Q J 7 3 2
H J 10 2
D A Q 8
EAST (you)
S K 10 9 6 5
H A 5
D 9 6 5
C 8 5 3

1 D Pass 1 S Pass
1 NT Pass 2 C* Pass
2 H Pass 3 NT (All  Pass)

   Partner leads the club four, won by dummy's king. Declarer plays a spade to his ace, then a diamond to dummy's queen. When you next capture the spade queen (would you?), declarer discards a low heart.

   What now?

   Setting this as a problem alerts you that something out of the ordinary may be called for; still, the club return seems normal. Even with the bell ringing, it is hard to fathom why Benito Garozzo returned a diamond. Yet that was the way to defeat the contract.

S Q J 7 3 2
H J 10 2
D A Q 8
S 8 4
H Q 8 7 3
D 10 4
C A 7 6 4 2
S K 10 9 6 5
H A 5
D 9 6 5
C 8 5 3
H K 9 6 4
D K J 7 3 2
C Q 10 9

   Declarer won the trick in dummy to cash his eighth trick, the spade jack, while he still could. He would then knock out the club ace to set up his ninth. But Garozzo got the heart ace plus two more spades.

   Deservedly, this defense was much admired. But how did Garozzo find it? Benito has not shared his secret. Did he visualize the whole deal? Perhaps so. But we lesser mortals can also achieve such defenses occasionally if we can extract the relevant principle.

   When defending a misfit notrump contract, if no clear path to a set is available, attack the communication suit. The communication suit is the one in which the declarer's honors are solid or close to solid, and split between the two hands.

   Because you know the answer now, I shall forego the problem setting for the remaining illustrations. This next deal was played in the 1971 World Championship.

North dealer
East-West vulnerable

H Q 6 5 4
D Q 10 8 6 3 2
S 9 7 3
H A K J 7
D K 9 5 4
C 10 2
S J 8 5 4 2
H 10 9 8
D 7
C Q 7 6 5
S K Q 10 6
H 3 2
C K 9 8 4 3

-- -- 1 D Pass
2 C Pass 2 H Pass
2 S Pass 3 D Pass
3 NT Pass Pass Pass

   The heart-seven lead was ducked to the eight. East returned a heart to the king; West shifted to a low diamond. At this point, declarer had a blind spot, winning the ace of diamonds and then overtaking the jack. (He should have made the contract by winning the jack and ace of diamonds, crossing to the spade ace, then knocking out the king of diamonds.)

   Let us focus on the defender's error. After winning the heart king, West should try to disrupt communication by returning a black suit. As it happens, either one will suffice. According to the strategy proposed here, a club is correct, because that is declarer's transportation vehicle. The requisite tactics are still delicate; East must not cover the club jack, and West must not take the jack of diamonds when it is offered.

   Here's a deal from the 1981 Team Trials:

West dealer
Both sides vulnerable

S A K Q 2
H A 9 8 6 3 2
D --
C 9 8 2
S 10 9 4
H 10 4
D A Q J 5 4 2
C 10 6
S 8 7 6
H K Q J 5
D 7
C Q J 7 5 3
S J 5 3
H 7
D K 10 9 8 6 3
C A K 4

-- Pass 1 H Pass
2 D Pass 2 S Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT (All Pass)

   West's spade lead was won by South. The heart was led to West's ten, overtaken by the jack. East returned his diamond. West won the jack, then played his remaining heart. North took the ace, tried another heart; declarer expected to go down when East won the trick. But he didn't, since diamonds couldn't be cashed; there were enough entries to set up the hearts.

   West had found the killing lead. If the defense simply plays spades whenever it can, declarer will rely on a heart split and go down. There may be a double-dummy make available using the diamond suit (declarer wins the spade in dummy, ducks a heart, and, by removing all of West's cards other than diamonds, can force two diamond tricks), but without the hand records South will fail.

   Since the trick saved by a communication-fouling defense will not always be the setter, the principle is more useful still at matchpoints.

North dealer
North-South vulnerable

S Q 10
H A Q J 9 8 3
D 6
C K Q 6 4
S 9 6 3
H K 10 7 5 2
D 8 2
C J 9 3
H 6
D K J 10 7 4 3
C 10 8 7 5
S K 8 7 5 4 2
H 4
D A Q 9 5
C A 2

-- -- 1 H 3 D
3 NT Pass 4 H Pass
4 NT Pass Pass Pass

   South's bidding left him in an unusual but potentially profitable spot. Winning the diamond lead with the queen, he tried a spade to the queen and ace. East returned the club eight, and now South had choices. Most successful on the actual distribution is taking the trick in dummy, then allowing East to win the spade jack. Unless a heart is returned into the ace-queen-jack, South can take 11 tricks by finessing the heart late in the day. But South did not know about the major-suit lies. Hoping to make five legitimately, he won the club shift in hand to try a heart to the queen. When the ace of hearts revealed the bad news, South was in trouble. With no way to use the spade suit, South had to concede two heart tricks to West. A second club and then a spade from West cut the links irreparably. South had a fourth loser somewhere.

   Note that a diamond return at trick three allows declarer to test hearts, then revert to spades; the intact communications allow an easy 10 tricks or even 11 if West fails to cash the high heart when he is given the third spade; East is squeezed in the minors.

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