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“Common sense always takes a hasty and superficial view.” - Henry David Thoreau

SATURDAY, NOV. 17, 2007

Do the expert players always get the complex positions right? Not exactly. Here’s a look at the two best teams in the world meeting each other in Paris in 2001. When Italy played the U.S. team, the board was flat. Were they in game making 11 tricks, as predicted by the commentators? Close, but no cigar.

I was working on Vugraph, and when we saw both tables had made slam, we hypothesized that there must have been a misdeal. How could 12 tricks be made?

Both Souths, Bob Hamman and Alfredo Versace, reached slam after West had bid clubs, and both won the club lead to play a diamond at trick two, reasoning that West would split his honors from K-Q. When West followed small unconcernedly, both declarers decided it was pointless to play for a distribution that their guts told them could not exist. Instead they changed tack and set out to find an endplay. They took dummy’s diamond ace, then cashed the hearts, ruffed a heart, ruffed a club, ruffed a heart, and ruffed a club. At this point they drew precisely one trump and exited with a diamond.

West was stuck with the lead, and did not like it. On the forced ruff and discard, dummy could take the ruff and declarer the discard. The contract made for a spectacular flat board, while both West players and the commentators reached quickly (but just a little too late) for the veil of anonymity.

Bid with the aces

South holds:

♠ A K 6 5 4
♥ A K 8 4
♦ 4 3 2
♣ A
1 ♠2 ♣PassPass
Dbl.Pass2 ♦Pass

Answer: Are you tempted to do more bidding? Think about it this way: Partner could not bid at all on the first round and could not bid more than two diamonds when you showed him a good hand with short clubs. So the chances of making more than a part-score are pretty slim. To bid on, you would need a fourth trump, at least.


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