Submarine Squeeze by Ioan Bob (Romania)

On Wednesday night, a packed audience enjoyed some vintage bridge provided by France and Great Britain. The quality of the bidding was very good all through the match.  After all, I feel that the French ladies deserved their win despite Miss Davies' card reading excellency. Had Mrs Cronier not misplayed the undermentioned board, the margin would have been even bigger.

Love All. Dealer East.

                          S Q
                          H AKT76
                          D AT9
                          C AT92
                S 52               S A986
                H J9854            H Q3
                D K85              D QJ32
                C K85              C Q74
                          S KJT743
                          H 2
                          D 764
                          C J63

With nothing to guide her, after an uninformative auction (South 2S, North 4S), Pat Davies chose the safe, passive lead of a low heart. This is how B n dicte Cronier (mis)played the hand:

HA, SQ which held the trick, heart ruff (fatal mistake!) and SK won by East. Sure enough, Nicola Smith switched to a low diamond and declarer was in trouble. She tried to cash the HK. It was promptly ruffed by Mrs. Smith and a few seconds later the French declarer was down two, only to match the score from the other room.

In fact, the hand can always be made if, after the SQ, declarer cashes the second heart winner and ruffs a heart. Look at the position:

                           S -
                           H T76
                           D AT9
                           C AT92
                   S 5              S A98
                   H J98            H -
                   D K85            D QJ32
                   C K85            C Q74
                           S KJT74
                           H -
                           D 76
                           C J63

Lacking other entries, declarer has to come to her hand via a heart ruff, shortening herself dangerously in trump. True, but what does East throw on this trick? Suppose Nicola Smith throws a diamond which seems not to do any damage at this stage. Declarer exits with a high trump and East has two (losing) options:

A. To win the SA and return a high diamond; declarer ducks this, takes the next diamond and ruffs a diamond to reach the following ending:

                           S -
                           H T6
                           D T
                           C AT9
                   S -            S 98
                   H J9           H -
                   D K            D J
                   C K85          C Q74
                           S JT7
                           H -
                           D -
                           C J63

Now it is clear why the diamond discard did indeed damage the defense. After the ruff, declarer draws trumps and runs
the CJ, playing for split honors.

B. To win the SA and return a low diamond. Declarer cannot afford to duck this as another heart ruff would be lethal.  Accordingly, she takes the DA and plays a diamond herself.

Now, declarer can either ruff the next diamond from East or, if East exit s with a trump, she has won a tempo and can take two club finesses in due time.

A more interesting ending occurs when East throws a club. Declarer still plays a trump, but now wins the diamond return immediately, even if East had led low and West played the King. The position is:

                           S -
                           H T7
                           D T9
                           C AT9
                 S -              S 98
                 H J9             H -
                 D (K)8(5)        D (Q)J3(2)
                 C K85            C Q7
                           S JT7
                           H -
                           D 7
                           C J63

The difference is that in this ending, declarer can get off dummy with a club. If East goes up with an honor, the other
honor will be finessed later. If she plays low (best defense), South will have to decide later what to do, but
the odds favor to go up with the CA.

I'm sure G za Ottlik would have liked this hand.