Bidding or Play? by Phillip Alder

Where do most swings originate: in the bidding or the play? One could debate that question for some while. However, most players either prefer to concentrate on bidding or play. Dr. George Rosenkranz is especially fond of bidding. He devised the Romex system, which is a natural system that uses 1NT, 2C and 2D opening bids for a variety of strong hands. If you are a good card-holder, this is an excellent idea. In normal methods, the 2C opening bid is severely overloaded.

In one match from the Rosenblum, George and his partner, Miguel Reygadas, had four potential grand slams to bid. Here's the first.

Dlr: West   S J 5 4             S A K Q 10 7 6
Vul: None   H A                 H Q 10
            D K 7 6 4 3         D A Q
            C A K 10 2                    C 7 6 4

            West                East
            Rosenkranz                    Reygadas
            1D                  2S   (a)
            3C   (b)            3S
            4H   (c)            4NT  (d)
            5H   (e)            5NT  (f)
            6H                  6S
            7S                  Pass
(a) Strong jump shift showing an excellent suit, perhaps with diamond support
(b) Denying one of the top three spade honors and showing at least two of the top three club honors
(c) Cue-bid in support of spades
(d) Simple Blackwood, because the trump situation is known
(e) Two aces
(f) Confirming all the aces are held and asking about side-suit kings

When Reygadas bid 5NT, Rosenkranz knew he was wasn't going to stay out of 7S, as he couldn't have a better hand. But just in case his partner could bid 7NT, he showed the DK and CK and denied the HK.
As you can see, the contract presented no difficulties in the play.

This was the second full deal:

Dlr: East                       S A 8 5 4 2
Vul: Both                       H K 9
                                D K 6 5 2
                                C 10 3
            S J 10 7 6 3                            S K Q 9
            H 6                                     H Q J
            D Q 9 7 4 3                             D A J 10 8
            C 8 4                                   C J 9 7 2
                                S --
                                H A 10 8 7 5 4 3 2
                                D --
                                C A K Q 6 5

            West      North       East      South
                      Rosenkranz            Reygadas
                                1D          6H!
            Pass      7H        All Pass

An imaginative jump to six hearts by Reygadas.

The textbook lead is a trump, but West started with the low spade. Declarer won with dummy's ace, discarding a club from hand. Reygadas cashed dummy's HK before starting on the clubs. As East had two trumps to go with his four clubs, the contract was home.

Now for the third pair of hands:

Dlr: West             S K J 10 3          S A Q 8 5 4
Vul: N-S              H A K 5 2           H --
                      D J 7 6             D A Q 3
                      C 8 4               C A K 6 5 2

            West                          East
            Rosenkranz                    Reygadas
            1D                            1S
            2S                            2NT  (a)
            3S   (b)                      4NT  (c)
            5H   (d)                      5NT  (e)
            6C   (f)                      7S
(a) Relay
(b) Balanced four-card spade raise
(c) Roman Key Card Blackwood -- but Reygadas should have bid 3NT as RKCB, which might save valuable space. (We'll overlook his use of Blackwood when holding a void.)
(d) Two key cards but no SQ
(e) Confirming all six key cards and asking again
(f) Denying the DK

Once again, the play presented no problems, the trumps being 3-1 and the clubs 3-3.

Dlr: West             S 9 4               S A K Q 7 6
Vul: Both             H 2                 H A K J 9 5 4
                      D 10 7 6 4 3        D  A
                      C A K Q 9 4         C 3

                      West                East
                      Reygadas            Rosenkranz
                      2S   (a)            3H
                      4C   (b)            4S
                      5C                  5S
                      6S                  Pass
(a) Three controls
(b) Bidding where you have your stuff in a potential slam auction

A diamond was led, won with dummy's ace. Declarer cashed the HA, ruffed a heart and cashed the top three spades. As both majors were breaking 3-3, Reygadas brought home all 13 tricks again.

A Battle of Wits by Phillip Alder

When two world champions are in opposition, you expect to witness a tight struggle, both players fighting for the upper hand. That was the situation on this deal from the Rosenblum Cup, when Peter Weichsel was the declarer and Marcelo Branco the defender in the East chair. First of all, decide what you would have done if you had been in Branco's position.

Dlr: South                                Sp K 3
Vul: E-W                                  Ht K 10 6 5 3
                                          Di A 10 4
                                          Cl J 9 5
                                                    Sp 6 2
                                                    Ht A J 9 4
                                                    Di 9 8 3
                                                    Cl A 10 7 3
            West      North     East      South
            2Sp   (a) Dbl (b)   Pass      2NT
            Pass      3NT       All Pass
(a) Weak
(b) Negative

West leads the Sp J, which holds the first trick. He switches to the Cl 8, declarer covering with dummy's nine and winning your ten with his king. Now come five rounds of diamonds. Your partner, who began with Di J-x, discards three spades. Dummy
releases two hearts. You throw a club, a heart and ... what? This is what you can see before you discard at trick seven:

                                Sp K 3
                                Ht K 10
                                Di --
                                Cl J 5
                                                    Sp 6
                                                    Ht A J 9
                                                    Di --
                                                    Cl A 7 3


This was the actual full deal:

Dlr: South                      Sp K 3
Vul: E-W                        Ht K 10 6 5 3
                                Di A 10 4
                                Cl J 9 5
            Sp A J 10 9 8 4                         Sp 6 2
            Ht 8 7                                  Ht A J 9 4
            Di J 7                                  Di 9 8 3
            Cl 8 6 2                                Cl A 10 7 3
                                Sp Q 7 5
                                Ht Q 2
                                Di K Q 6 5 2
                                Cl K Q 4

And this was the end-position with Branco still to discard:

                                Sp K
                                Ht K 10 6
                                Di --
                                Cl J 5
            Sp A 10                                 Sp 6
            Ht 8 7                                  Ht A J 9
            Di --                                   Di --
            Cl 6 2                                  Cl A 7 3
                                Sp Q 7
                                Ht Q 2
                                Di --
                                Cl Q 4

A certain queenly symmetry in the South hand.

Weichsel had envisioned this ending and had decided that, even though he had a world-class player on his right, it would be a difficult task for him to find the winning defense. Therefore, Weichsel had disdained the straightforward line of crossing to dummy with a diamond at trick three and leading a heart to the queen, followed by a spade; for, if East held the Ht A-J and West the Sp A, it wouldn't be difficult for West to win with the Sp A and lead a heart through.
South needed three of the last six tricks. If East had thrown a club, declarer would have led a club and won a trick in each suit.
Branco actually released the Ht 9. But now Weichsel led the Ht Q. Seeing that winning the trick was useless, Branco ducked. But now Weichsel exited with a spade to guarantee his contract.
The only winning defense is for Branco to discard the Sp 6. This goes against the grain, losing contact with partner. However, whatever South does now, the defenders have an answer.
An excellent piece of card-reading by Weichsel, but I cannot help thinking that West should have discarded one of his clubs, to tell Branco that declarer had started with 3-2-5-3 distribution and not 3-1-5-4.