36th World Team Championships, Monte Carlo, Monaco Thursday, 6 November 2003

The Guru

Subscribers to Bridge Magazine will know that complex play problems involving percentages are referred to David Burn, who can always be relied upon to provide a definitive answer. Using the power of the Internet we asked him to comment on this deal from Round 4 of the Bermuda Bowl.

Board 23. Dealer South. All Vul.
  ª A J 7
© J 10 7
¨ Q 10 8 7 3
§ 9 7
ª Q
© A 8
¨ A 9 6 4 2
§ A K J 8 2
Bridge deal ª K 6 4
© K Q 9 4 3
¨ K J
§ 5 4 3
  ª 10 9 8 5 3 2
© 6 5 2
¨ 5
§ Q 10 6

The contract is 6NT.

I asked David to compute the odds, suggesting the best line is to test the hearts and then finesse in clubs. It did not take him long to reply:

‘I don't see this. If you're going to take the club finesse at the end anyway, you might as well take it at the beginning. Then, five rounds of clubs may squeeze an opponent with four hearts and ¨Q10 (or any 4+ diamonds). Besides, if North has the stiff §Q, you will need the heart entry to pick the suit up (you should not play for him to have falsecarded from §Q10 or §Q9, because he has no need to do this - you are going to finesse anyway). The best line appears to me to be: ªK, §A, ¨K, club finesse. If this works and both follow, run clubs and hope for the best. If it works but North shows out, attempt to run hearts and squeeze South in the minors. You will make when South has §Q and either: clubs run and hearts run; or clubs run and the red-suit squeeze works; or hearts run and the minor-suit squeeze works. This all adds up to around 44% - 6NT was not a great contract, of course.

Dealmaster Pro and Deep Finesse indicate that on a double-dummy basis, the contract will make around 56% of the time - but this involves dropping North's doubleton §Q whenever he has it, so the true odds are roughly as I
have suggested. Of course, if South is going to be squeezed (in the minors or the reds), North has misdefended by winning the first trick, but this is an imponderable.

Merci, David!

"Stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once"

Macbeth. Act iii. Sc. 4


When your contract appears to be in jeopardy you can sometimes survive by subjecting your opponents to an immediate test, exploiting, as Tony Forrester would say, ‘the power of the closed hand.’ Consider this deal from Round 3 of the Bermuda Bowl match between USAII and Bermuda.

Board 4. Dealer West. All Vul.
  ª A K 5 3
© A K 7
¨ Q 8 5
§ J 8 5
ª 8 7 2
© Q 10 4 3
¨ 9 7 3
§ A 9 7
Bridge deal ª 10 9 4
© 9 8 6 2
¨ 10 6 4
§ Q 3 2
  ª Q J 6
© J 5
¨ A K J 2
§ K 10 6 4

West North East South
Wildavsky Harvey Doub Douglas
Pass 1§ Pass 2NT
Pass 4NT Pass 6NT
All Pass      

Declarer took the opening lead of the eight of spades with the jack and played three more rounds of the suit before advancing the jack of clubs. East covered with the queen and declarer had nowhere to go, -100.

West North East South
Saunders Wolff Hall Morse
Pass 1NT Pass 4NT
Pass 6NT All Pass  

Here North was declarer and he won the first trick with the ace of hearts and immediately advanced the jack of clubs like a man who was trying to sniff out the location of the queen. Can you blame East for failing to cover? Now declarer had an easy route to twelve tricks for +1440 and a big swing.

And the winner is…

During these Championships the IBPA will be announcing their annual awards. If the criteria for selection were to rest on the frequency that a hand has been reported, then this effort would undoubtedly be a leading contender. It has already appeared in such distinguished publications as The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Lady, Country Life, Bridge Magazine, Le Figaro and of course the IBPA Bulletin.

Dealer East. N/S Vul.
  ª 9 7 2
© 8 4 2
¨ A K 10 8 6 4
§ A
ª 10 4
© J 10 7 3
¨ 9 7 5 2
§ 8 6 4
Bridge deal ª K J 5 3
© K
¨ J 3
§ J 10 9 7 5 3
  ª A Q 8 6
© A Q 9 6 5
¨ Q
§ K Q 2

West North East South
  Dix   Tacchi
    Pass 1©
Pass 2¨ Pass 2ª
Pass 3© Pass 4§
Pass 4¨ Pass 4©
Pass 5© Pass 6©
All Pass      

Declarer won the club lead in dummy and played a trump. When East produced the king declarer decided it was a true card and set about trying to avoid the loss of two trump tricks. Winning with the ace, Tacchi cashed the top clubs, discarding two spades from dummy. After unblocking the queen of diamonds declarer cashed the ace of spades, ruffed a spade and played the ace and king of diamonds. Then he ruffed a diamond in hand and played a trump towards dummy’s eight. West could win, but then had to lead into declarer’s trump tenace.

A brilliant play by Ron Tacchi – but there was no one there to take his picture!

Page 5

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