The annual Brighton Pairs moved to eastbourne from 2016, a less frenetic place and one perhaps better suited to bridge players. I’m pleased to say that partner Alexander Allfrey and your columnist finished first out of the 270 competing partnerships.
here is a fascinating Six Notrumps from the Saturday evening session, in keeping with our recent theme of squeeze-play.
West led the unbid suit despite holding only a singleton. Declarer won the Club lead with dummy’s Ace (east signalling with the Queen) and led a Spade to the Queen. West won the Ace and switched to a passive heart. Declarer took dummy’s Aceking and saw east discard a Club on the second. he cashed the Kingknave of Spades, discarding a Club and a Diamond, crossed to his King of Diamonds and cashed the Queen of hearts, discarding a Spade.
here is the five-card ending with declarer on lead:
The lousy heart split meant declarer needed the Diamond finesse to bring his trick target to 11. he would then need either a 3–3 Diamond split or a squeeze to reach the desired 12 tricks. Declarer paused to consider the evidence. West had not led a second Club when in with the Ace of Spades. The simple reason for his failure to find this squeeze-reducing defence was that he didn’t hold a second Club.
The play of the Spade suit, east following with the nine-then-ten on the second and third rounds, suggested east held the remaining eight (admittedly, West could have been false-carding). That meant West was 3-5-4-1 and east 4-1-2-6.
That being the case, declarer had a choice of squeezes. he could either squeeze West in the red suits by cashing the King of Clubs or he could cash the Knave of hearts, discarding a Diamond, then play a Diamond to the Knave and cash the Ace to squeeze east in the black suits. either way, 12 tricks and slam made.
Only a most elegant defence defeats Three Spades on our second eastbourne Pairs deal.
West wisely stayed off his partner’s hearts, given his Ace-smallsmall holding, choosing the Knave of Diamonds. east won the Ace and knew his partner’s style was not to lead from a King. A Diamond return looked unappealing, as did a heart (seeing dummy’s hearts). he therefore switched to a Club, carefully choosing the Queen, a surround play that would work best if declarer held the King. The Queen held, so he continued with a low Club to West’s King, West leading a third Club to east’s Ace. Now came the coup de grâce.
Reading the deal perfectly, at trick five, east led his remaining Club. This brought about a trump promotion, creating a defensive trump trick, where otherwise none would exist (declarer leading to the Ace, felling east’s King, then back to his Queen, felling West’s Knave).
Declarer tried the ten of Spades, but West overruffed with the Knave, forcing out dummy’s Ace and promoting east’s King. Down one.