ACES ON BRIDGE
“If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.”
— John Maynard Keynes
The 2001 Cavendish Invitational pairs competition featured a number of well-played hands. This deal saw two declarers follow similar routes to success.
Guido Ferraro, playing with Giorgio Duboin, declared six hearts on the auction shown.
After a spade lead, Ferraro correctly assumed that East’s jump to game — with what appeared to be a Yarborough and only four trumps — argued strongly for shortness in hearts.
So he made the critical play when he won the king and cashed the diamond ace and king before leading a heart to the queen.
This maneuver is sometimes referred to as the Dentist’s Coup. It had the effect of extracting West’s troublesome doubleton diamond. Accordingly, when West won the heart ace, he had to return a black suit. That let declarer cross to hand to finesse in hearts and make his slam.
Note that if declarer had not cashed two rounds of diamonds, West could have won the heart ace and exited in diamonds, locking declarer in dummy.
Peter Weichsel and Rose Meltzer reached the same contract on a broadly similar auction where East had also raised spades aggressively. Weichsel received the spade queen lead and played the hand similarly to Ferraro, with one very slight refinement. He won the spade king, cashed the diamond ace and king, then played the heart 10 (unblocking, to facilitate later communication) to his queen and West’s ace. Again, West had to concede a black-suit entry to the South hand, allowing him to take the heart finesse through the opening bidder.
ANSWER: It is tempting to pass for penalties, but the trump spots really do not feel good enough to me. Give me the heart 10 instead of a low heart, and I might consider that action. I’d prefer to bid one notrump and try to win the event on the next deal.