Playing the fool again
                                                                       By Cathy Chua, Australia

 

I seemed destined for an undignified world championship as anyone who read Daily Bulletin #2 will already realize. Here I found myself in an unlikely 6S after a small bidding accident.

 

                              NORTH
                              S 43
                              H A1072
                              D J10832
                  WEST        C Q3              EAST
                  S 765                         S QJ8
                  H J8653                       H 9
                  D KQ9                         D 654
                  C 87                          C J109654
                              SOUTH
                              S AK1092
                              H KQ4
                              D A7

                              C AK2


West, the sister-in-law of East (their teammates are brothers and their husbands)led the DK. I crossed to the CQ and played a low trump, intending to double-finesse with the ambition of losing only one diamond. But East played the jack! Why the jack? I though Jx more likely than QJx, so I switched lines. I cashed the SK and then the HK and HQ. If West had HJxxx and SQxxx I would still make, pitching a diamond before dealing with the trump suit. You can see the result for yourself. Against this declarer at least, East had to split to defeat the slam.

On the next board I opened 1S and was soon on lead against 3C. Still in a state of shock from the previous board, however, instead of leading I began to put down dummy. Before I knew it I had FIVE exposed cards -- my queen-jack-fifth of spades. The director was called. I was told I had to lead a spade . . . ruffed by my partner!
The director was very amused. "Normally, madam," he said to declarer, "you would have the right to forbid or demand a spade lead. But on this hand . . ." He shrugged and started laughing. So did we all. The one good thing about this board is that it was the last. I could retire hurt.

 

 

                                    Slam Trouble
                                                                       By Cathy Chua, Australia


Danny Sacul, one of Indonesia's top players, reported this hand to me. His teammate, Henky Lasut, played in 6H as North.
The English West had opened 2C, which was either a weak two in diamonds or a Precision-style 2C. Lasut overcalled 2H and East bid 3C for correction. Thereafter East-West were silent. These were the North-South hands.

                             NORTH
                             S A52
                             H KQJ853
                             D --
                             C A985   
         
                             SOUTH
                             S Q73
                             H A10762
                             D Q2
                             C K104

East led the CQ. How should you play?

It seemed obvious to Lasut that West had the weak two in diamonds and he played East for the queen-jack of clubs. But no! Even though Lasut had this option, this line of play failed because East had led from queen-doubleton! These were the East-West hands.

                  S J84               S K1096
                  H 9                 H 4
                  D AKJ85             D 1097643
                  C J763              C Q2

In the other room against Sacul, N-S also reached 6H, this time played by South who decided to open first in hand. East and West did not enter the auction. South drew trumps while eliminating diamonds after theDA lead Now he had to decided how to play the clubs. As Sacul pointed out, king and then running the 10 will work. Instead the English declarer played the clubs from the top -- one down for a flat board -- to the relief of both declarers!

 

 

                              The art of making the enemy feel foolish
                                                                      By Cathy Chua, Australia

No, I don't mean questioned the pedigree of your opponents' mothers. Or their bridge-playing skills. It's a pity the players in this world championship are not above such tactics. There is more than enough room within the game itself to practice this art without stooping to such breaches of etiquette. I mean the sort of psychological warfare of which Victor Mollo would have approved. Like this hand.

                        NORTH
                        S AQJ10
                        H J53
                        D A863
                        C K87  
 
                        SOUTH
                        S K6
                        H K94
                        D 75
                        C KQJ64

What is the best chance of making 12 tricks in 3NT after West has overcalled 1H? At stake, I thought, was not only a possible IMP, but also the chance of making the defense feel foolish. This, as Mollo would attest, could be worth any number of IMPs. We were playing perhaps the fifth or sixth team we had met so far from the India/Pakistan zone. We were yet to beat one, so I was more than willing to try anything as far as bridge goes.

If East held an honor in hearts, it was most likely the 10, so rising with the HJ looked like a good idea. When East followed with 10, it was possible he still held another heart. (I did not think I could afford to release the H9, in case East had two hearts. Then followed four spades, discarding the HK and a diamond; five clubs discarding two hearts from dummy.

Yes, West did discard the HA and HQ -- plus 690. Then the bickering began. Maybe it was just coincidence, but finally we did win a match against the subcontinent.

Then there is this example from the first match of the Swiss. This time we are victims. An American declarer, Lee Rautenberg (West), found himself in 6D on this hand.

                             NORTH
                             S K1074
                             H 853
                             D 762
                    WEST      C 763      EAST
                    S 86                 S AQ5
                    97                   H AKJ64
                    D KQJ1054            D A
                    C AK2                C 9854
                             SOUTH
                             S J932
                             H Q102
                             D 983
                             C QJ10

In the "feeling foolish" department, this pair had already acquitted themselves well. On the first board they for 1100 in 3NT for no particular reason. They remained calm. By this board, though, it was time for a little revenge.

Declarer could make one overtrick in 6D by setting up hearts. That, however, left no chance to make the opponents feel foolish. Instead declarer went for the squeeze. He won the SQ, unblocked the DA, crossed to the CA and ran trumps. North did not keep his club holding in order to break up the squeeze, so there was ample reason for us to feel foolish after the hand, not least of which because it is pretty to make a trick by retaining 7-x-x of a suit.

Such opportunities are not meant to be wasted. Perhaps it was no coincidence that we were the victims of a large loss in this match. I'm sure Victor Mollo would know.