Country Life Every Week - - Crossword Bridge - An­drew Robson

BU­DAPEST en­joyed a 35˚ heat­wave dur­ing the 53rd Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships. The bridge of the Eng­land Open team blew hot and cold.

Here is your colum­nist blow­ing cold, in the match against Fin­land. West led the eight of Spades to East’s Queen. Plan the play in Four Hearts.

At the ta­ble, the unin­spired de­clarer won the Ace of Spades, drew trumps in three rounds fin­ish­ing in dummy and led a Club to the Queen. This lost the West’s King and the con­tract was doomed.

Say you duck East’s trick one Queen of Spades and fi­nesse the Knave on East’s likely Spade re­turn (there is lit­tle dan­ger of West ruff­ing the sec­ond Spade, as that would leave East with a ro­bust six-card suit, with which he’d surely have opened a Weak Two). You now draw trumps in three rounds and, like a be­gin­ner, cash your three Aces: Spades, Clubs and Di­a­monds.

At trick eight, you exit with a sec­ond Di­a­mond. East wins the King and leads a sec­ond Club (the Knave). You cover with the Queen, but, even though this loses to West’s bare King, he is end­played, with only Di­a­monds re­main­ing. You ruff in dummy, shed your third Club from hand and claim your game.

Note that, as so of­ten, the topof-a-dou­ble­ton open­ing lead does not work well (against an in­spired de­clarer). If West leads (say) a Di­a­mond, de­clarer doesn’t know he has a sec­ond Spade trick and will likely lead an early Club to the Queen and go down. I had a chance. And squan­dered it.

Our sec­ond Bu­dapest deal saw Eng­land’s David Gold, South, blow­ing hot against the host na­tion.

West would have been well ad­vised to lead his part­ner’s Hearts. In­stead, he fished out a risky seven of Di­a­monds. East would have been well ad­vised to with­hold his third-hand-high ten, but that card was wasted, de­clarer win­ning the Queen.

At trick two, de­clarer led a Club to the Knave, East win­ning the King and re­turn­ing the five of Di­a­monds. De­clarer won the Ace, crossed to the Knave of Clubs and re­turned to his Queen, pleased to see the even split and en­joyed the nine, West dis­card­ing a Spade (and East a Heart).

De­clarer was up to eight tricks, with the Spade fi­nesse (low to the Knave) his ob­vi­ous chance of a ninth. The trou­ble was that the Spade fi­nesse was un­likely to suc­ceed, given that East had opened a Weak two and had al­ready turned up with three Clubs to the King. De­clarer cashed the Ace of Hearts to learn more, see­ing West’s Queen (so East had opened with five).

De­clarer led a low Spade to the King and the crunch point had ar­rived. Did West be­gin with six Di­a­monds in a 3-1-6-3 shape, in which case, West had dis­carded down to two Spades and de­clarer would have to guess whether he had bared his Queen?

Or did he be­gin with a 4-1-5-3 shape, in which case, de­clarer could exit with a third Di­a­mond. Given that this lat­ter shape would en­able de­clarer to suc­ceed whether or not West held the Queen of Spades, de­clarer ex­ited with the Di­a­mond (how East wished he’d re­tained his ten).

West could cash his three Di­a­monds, but, at trick 12, have to lead from Queen-ten of Spades round to de­clarer’s Ace-knave. Nine tricks.

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