bridge

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Mind Games - PaulMarston

IN March, the Pak­istan Bridge Fed­er­a­tion or­gan­ised an in­ter­na­tional bridge tour­na­ment in Karachi. Thirty five teams took part, in­clud­ing two from the UK, two from China and one each from Jordan and Turkey. The win­ners were the Bri­tish team of Mike Bell, Alex Hy­des and the Hack­ett twins, Ja­son and Justin. On deal one Bell and Hy­des em­ployed a use­ful bid­ding de­vice to avoid an ill-fated slam.

Over two notrumps three spades showed slam in­ter­est in one of the mi­nors. Three notrumps al­lowed Hy­des to show which mi­nor. When Bell heard that it was clubs he bid four notrumps to deny great in­ter­est. It would have been dif­fer­ent if his part­ner was shop­ping around for a di­a­mond slam. But his short­age in clubs and his weak­ness in di­a­monds did not auger well for a club slam. In this way they avoided a slam that was doomed to fail. Four notrumps eas­ily made with an over­trick.

At the other ta­ble, the Pak­istani player sit­ting South charged all the way to six clubs, be­ing un­able to check on his part­ner’s opin­ion. How­ever, there was no way to avoid los­ing the ace of di­a­monds and a club so he was one down.

It re­minds me of the hand that haunts Ed­die Kan­tar to this very day. It comes from the 1975 world cham­pi­onship fi­nal be­tween Italy and the USA. Who would be world cham­pion for the next two years hinged on the club suit on deal two. Note that the North-South club hold­ing on the two deals is vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal. It is only the East-West hold­ing that is slightly dif­fer­ent, to Kan­tar’s great re­gret.

The auc­tion given is a rea­son­able way to bid the hand. It would be quite nor­mal for South to have a fling at six clubs, be­ing sure of 32 HCP and with fine shape. In fact the Ital­ians had an ac­ci­dent in the bid­ding and ended up in seven clubs. Kan­tar had the West hand and he had vi­sions of beat­ing the grand slam win­ning his first world cham­pi­onship un­til dummy went down. With the ace-queen of clubs in dummy, Kan­tar’s king was dead. De­clarer led a club to the queen and cashed the ace to drop the king. Now noth­ing could stop the Ital­ians from mak­ing their very lucky grand slam and cling­ing on to their world cham­pi­onship. Kan­tar never did win a world cham­pi­onship.

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