The  wizard of the play
By Radek Kielbasinski

Cezary Balicki is known as one of the top card players in the world. He is a member of the reigning European team champions and winner of the 1994 invitational in London sponsored by the Macallan whisky company. He was also a member of the team which finished second in the 1991 Bermuda Bowl in Yokohama, Japan. In Albuquerque, he represents Poland on the team sponsored partly by the private television network POLONIA 1. He showed his brilliancy in the following two deals from
the second day of round-robin play in the Rosenblum Cup Teams. The first was played against a team from the USA. Balicki was playing with his regular partner, Adam Zmudzinski.

E/W Vul. Dealer North.

                      S A Q 8 6 3
                      H A
                      D A K 9 2
                      C J 6 2

      WEST                    EAST
S J                     S K 10 9 7 4
      H K J 6 5               H 9 8 4 3
D Q J 10 8 6 4          D 7
      C 4 3                   C Q 10 9
                     S 5 2
                     H Q 10 7 2
                     D 5 3
                     C A K 8 7 5

  WEST      NORTH     EAST      SOUTH
            Zmud'ski            Balicki
            1S        Pass      1NT
  Pass      3NT       All Pass

West led the DQ. Cover the East-West hands and try to sort out the correct line of play before reading on.

Balicki won the DA and played the CJ -- it does him no good to play for the CQx because the suit is blocked and he has no way to his hand. East covered with the CQ. Balicki won the ace and played a low club to dummy's 6. East won the 9 and switched to the H9, won perforce in dummy. Balicki played a club to the ace and followed with the C8, on which West discarded a diamond and a heart. This was the position at that point:

                        S A Q 8 6
                        H --
                        D K 9 2
                        C --

      WEST                         EAST
      S J                          S K 10 9 7
      H K J                        H 8 4 3
      D J 10 8 6                   D --
      C --                         C --
                        S 5 2
                        H Q 10 7
                        D 5
                        C 7

When Balicki played his last club, West was in trouble. If he threw a heart, Balicki could throw a diamond from dummy and play the HQ from his hand, blanking the DK in dummy. After any return by West, declarer could cash the SA and DK, followed by a low spade from dummy. East could win and spade and cash the king, but then would have to give Balicki his ninth trick with a spade to dummy's queen or a heart to Balicki's good H10.

What actually happened was that West discarded a diamond on Balicki's last club, so he discarded a spade from the dummy and played a diamond, ducking when West split with the D10. West could not continue diamonds without giving Balicki a finesse, so he got out with a spade. Balicki read the cards perfectly, going up with the ace and playing the DK and another diamond. West cashed his HK but had to give Balicki his ninth trick with a heart to the queen.

Making the contract was not a gain for Balicki's team -- East-West at the other table were minus 800 in 2H doubled -- but he avoided a much more severe loss with his expert play.

Balicki was in fine form on this deal as well, also from the second day of round-robin play in the Rosenblum. The opponents were a German team.

Love All. Dealer South.

                        S Q
                        H A 10 7 6
                        D K J 10
                        C A J 10 8 6

          WEST                       EAST
          S 4 2                      S 10 9 6 5
          H K J 9 8 5                H 4 3
          D A Q 9 8 4                D 7 6
          C K                        C Q 9 7 5 2

                        S A K J 8 7 3
                        H Q 2
                        D 5 3 2
                        C 4 3

  WEST       NORTH       EAST       SOUTH
             Zmud'ski               Balicki
  2H         Pass        Pass       2S
  Pass       3H (1)      Pass       3NT
  All Pass
(1) Indicating a trap pass with good hearts.

West led the D9, taken in dummy with the 10. Balicki, looking deeply into the hand, then made the remarkable play of a low club from dummy. It is worth pointing out that this is the only correct play (for a 4-2 club split with a doubleton honor in either hand or any 3-3 split). The play of the CJ or 10 would have produced very few club tricks. In playing on clubs, Balicki didn't know that West had five diamonds and he assumed that he could not be defeated with this play.Whichever opponent won the club trick would probably play on hearts or diamonds, giving Balicki an extra red trick. After that,
Balicki could play on clubs and take two diamonds, three spades, one heart and three clubs for his contract.

As it was, West won the CK and played the DA followed by another diamond, putting East in a squeeze on the third round of diamonds. Consider East's problem: he could not discard a club, for that would give Balicki three easy club tricks. Nor could he discard a spade, for then Balicki could overtake the SQ and take six spade tricks. So East's only choice was a low heart.

So now Balicki played the CA and got an accurate picture of the outstanding cards. West was 2-5-5-1, so East had to be 4-2-2-5. Balicki played the HA, followed by the CJ and East was helpless. If East refuses to take the CQ, Balicki could play four rounds of spades, throwing East in to give up the ninth trick in clubs. If East wins the CQ, he again will be thrown in with the spade suit to lead from the C9 7 into dummy's C10 8. At the other table, South went down three in the same contract.