The phantom Analyst
The play of the following deal - from the third set of the Bermuda
Bowl quarterfinal match between USA I and Italy - generated no small
amount of comment while Norberto Bocchi was working out his line
Board 5. Dealer North. N/S Vul.
ª 8 7 6 3 2
© K 9 6 2
§ K 6 4
© A 7 5 4
¨ A 9 8 4
§ A J 10 3
||ª K 5
© J 10 8
¨ K Q 10 7 6 3
§ Q 9
ª A J 10 9 4
© Q 3
¨ J 5
§ 8 7 5 2
(1) Singleton in one major, four cards in the other major.
Bocchi, after discovering his partner had a singleton spade, was
justifiably concerned about a notrump contract with only three spades
between the two hands. His partner, Giorgio Duboin, was justifiably
concerned about the 4-3 fit - 4© was going down.
After Eric Rodwell, South, led the ªA, the Vugraph analysts speculated
at length about whether Rodwell would find the killing heart switch.
Any other play would give Bocchi time to pull trumps and set up
clubs for two heart discards.
Rodwell considered his continuation for some time before finally
switching to the ©3. Jeff Meckstroth, North, won the ©K and continued
the suit to the 10, queen and ace. It looked as though the contract
was indeed dead, but somewhere in the audience, unheard by most,
came the comment about Bocchi's 5¨ contract: "Now it's cold."
That keen analyst may never be known, but he was correct. Whether
declarer should find the winning line, 11 tricks were available.
Here's how Bocchi could have made it: win the heart ace, play two
rounds of diamonds, ending in hand, cash the ªK, then run trumps.
This will be the end position:
© 9 6
§ K 6
© 7 5
§ A J
§ Q 9
§ 8 7
On the last diamond, declarer discards dummy's
§J, and North has
no answer. If he discards a heart, declarer cashes the jack, dropping
the 9, and gets to dummy with the §A.
If North pitches a club, declarer plays over to the §A,
dropping the king, and returns to hand with the ©J
to cash the §Q for
Whether it is advisable to take this line of play (North might have
started with only two hearts, in which case taking the club finesse
will suffice to bring in the contract), the phantom analyst was
The 100% play to defeat 5¨ is to switch to the heart queen at trick
two. Declarer has no answer to that play.