Play or defend?


This interesting deal came up and you could ask yourself: Would I rather play or defend the spade slam?


                            S  8 7 5 3

                            H  A K

                            D  Q 6

                            C  Q J 9 6 5

           S  A 6                           S  9 2

           H  J T 8 7 4                     H  9 2

           D  9 4                           D  K J T 8 7 3 2

           C  8 4 3 2                       C  T 7

                            S  K Q J T 4

                            H  Q 6 5 3

                            D  A 5

                            C  A K


         WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

         Pass         1C            3D           3S

         Pass         4S            Pass         4NT

         Pass         5D            Pass         6S

         All Pass


Naturally the opening lead is a diamond -- 9, queen, king, ace. Clearly you can't knock out the trump ace immediately -- the defense will cash a diamond. Somehow declarer must get rid of a diamond from either his hand or dummy.

How about cashing his top clubs and getting to dummy with a heart? Then he can led a high club and overruff when East trumps in. Then he can cross to dummy again with a heart and lead another high club. Once again he overruffs East. Now East is out of trumps, so declarer can ditch dummy's last diamond on the HQ. Making 6S.

But wait a moment! We assumed that East would ruff clubs both times. What if East ditches his second heart after declarer gets to dummy with a heart the first time? Now declarer can't rid of his troublesome diamond and has to go down one.


A classic swindle


Dlr: South                  S  K J T 9 7 5

Vul: Both                   H  8 4

                            D  J T 8

                            C  K 4

             S  3 2                         S  A Q 6

             H  T 6 2                       H  J 9 7 5

             D  9 3 2                       D  A Q 5

             C  Q J 9 8 7                   C  T 3 2

                            S  8 4

                            H  A K Q 3

                            D  K 7 6 4

                            C  A 6 5


         WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

          -            -             -           1NT

         Pass         4H (1)        Pass         4S

         All Pass


        (1) Transfer to spades.


West led the CQ won by declarer in hand with the ace.


Put yourself in the East chair: since declarer can get rid of a diamond on the third top heart and diamonds are favorably placed for declarer, how can you beat this game?


Mike Passell found a way. When declarer took the spade finesse at trick two, Passell won with the ace. Next he cashed the DA and continued a diamond, declarer winning the king.

At this point, declarer could make his game by cashing three rounds of hearts but what was the point? He could take the "proven" finesse against the SQ, draw trumps and take his discard with impunity.

It didn't work out that way. A spade to the jack -- and Passell won his SQ and cashed the DQ for the setting trick.



A hand from a columnist


Steve Becker, former editor of The Bridge Bulletin and now a syndicated bridge columnist and teacher, wishes that his singleton spade on this hand had been the deuce instead of the 8.


                            S  T 7 6 3 2

Dlr: East                   H  7 5 2

Vul: N-S                    D  Q

                            C  A Q 9 5

           S  --                          S  A K Q J 9 5 4

           H  A T 9 6 4 3                 H  8

           D  J 7 6 5 3                   D  9

           C  T 2                         C  J 8 7 3

                            S  8

                            H  K Q J

                            D  A K T 8 4 2

                            C  K 6 4


         WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

          -            -            4S           5D

         Pass         Pass          Pass


Steve could have doubled instead of bidding 5D, but he decided on the overcall because the suit was a six-carder. It looks as if West had a double, but he was much better off passing since he didn't find the killing opening lead -- the HA followed by a second heart.

Instead he led the C10, taken with the queen. Steve cashed the DQ, noting the fall of the 9 from East. Next came a heart to West's ace, and West continued with his other club. Steve took this in hand and cashed his two top diamonds. Then he led another diamond to drive out the jack. He won the heart return and ran the rest of his red cards. As he cashed his last trump, he was left with a club and the S8 in his hand and the C A9 in dummy. East had to make a discard holding the S9 (he had discarded all his high spades, hoping declarer didn't notice that the 9 was still out) and the C J8. No matter which card he discarded, Steve had the remaining tricks -- 5D bid and made.


Why did he wish he had had the deuce of spades instead of the 8? Because of the thrill he would have experienced taking the last trick with the good deuce in a suit that had never been led.


Suzi can play, too


Suzi Subeck has been extremely busy trying to keep you informed of tournament happenings. Here, she also demonstrates her card-playing skill


                            S  K Q 3

Dlr: East                   H  A 8 6 5 2

Vul: N-S                    D  K Q 6 5 4

                            C  --

            S  T 7 2                        S  A 6 4

            H  Q 7 4                        H  J 3

            D  A J T 7 3                    D  8

            C  A Q                          C  K J 8 5 4 3 2

                            S  J 9 8 5

                            H  K T 9

                            D  9 2

                            C  T 9 7 5


As many of you know Suzi is not a "shy" bidder. When you bid a lot you must play the cards well. The auction (with Suzi as North):


         WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

          -            -            Pass         Pass

         1D           1H            2C           Pass

         Pass         2D            3C           3H

         3NT          4H            Pass         Pass

         Dbl          All Pass


The opening lead was the singleton D8. West won and returned the D10, which was trumped by East, who now led ace and a spade to Suzi s king. Suzi trumped a diamond while East discarded his last spade. Suzi next shortened her trumps by ruffing a club back to her hand. Next she led a trump to dummy, felling East's jack. Suzi returned to her hand with a second club ruff, cashed the SQ and trumped a diamond in dummy. The end position:


                            S  --

                            H  A 8

                            D  K

                            C  --

              S  --                      S  --

              H  Q 7                     H  --

              D  J                       D  --

              C  --                      C  K J 8

                            S  J

                            H  --

                            D  --

                            C  T 9


Suzi led the SJ and showed her hand to West -- making 4H doubled for +790 and 63 out of 64 possible matchpoints.