presents     Professor IMP's Weekly    Master Class  #4          

Prof IMP 
-
'A Cheap Trick'
"Who is your favourite player?", the student asked Professor IMP.
"One of those questions...", the professor sighed. "How on earth can I choose a favourite bridge player, when they all make so many silly mistakes. Well, on second thought, I think I can make an exception. The person in question lived in the previous century, so I’m pretty sure you don't even know his name, young man."
"Well, who is it?" The student was getting curious.
"The person I am talking about is a certain Belladonna, Giorgio Belladonna; a guy from Italy, who won a record number of World Championships and Olympiads. It was not only his skill. He was a very friendly man with a lot of charisma. Belladonna's creative mind often led to daring plays at the table. Take for instance the way he handled this deal which occurred some time in the mid-eighties at the European Community Championships."
 
- 
E/NS 8 6 3 
K 6 
A K 5 3 2 
K 6 4
 
----
e A Q J 9 5 
J 8 2 
9 4 
A Q 7
  
- 
WEST 
- 
- 
Pass 
Pass 
Pass
NORTH 
-- 

2 
4 
 

EAST 
- 
Pass - 
Pass 
Pass 
 
SOUTH 
Belladonna 
1 
2 
Pass
 
 

A worst case scenario in 4 could mean the loss of three heart tricks and one spade trick if East-West where in the position to play trumps three times.
West indeed found the best lead, a trump. South took East's ten with the Queen. The declarer, Giorgio Belladonna, rejected 'normal' options like A onside or diamonds three-three. Instead, he crossed to dummy with the K and surprisingly played a low heart from dummy to which East followed low. South played the Jack and West won with the Queen. A rather cheap trick for West. However, he could not continue in trumps without giving away his trump trick. Belladonna had left him a choice of two evils: either take three heart tricks but no trump trick, or take two tricks in hearts and one in trumps. The latter would have been the case if East had played the A at trick two:
 

-
E/NS 8 6 3 
K 6 
A K 5 3 2 
K 6 4
  K 7 2 
  Q 10 5 3 
  10 6 
  9 8 3 2
10 4 
A 9 7 4---- 
Q J 8 7 
K J 10 5
e A Q J 9 5 
J 8 2 
9 4 
A Q 7
 
- 
 
 
-.
The beauty of this play, now known as the Belladonna Coup, is that it would also work if the position of the A and the Q were reversed.