Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Puzzles, Cartoons & Gwen - Steve Becker

Fi­nal con­tract – six hearts. Open­ing lead – three of di­a­monds. Back in 1933, the Franklin Bridge Club of Philadel­phia staged its an­nual team-of-four club cham­pi­onship. It was no world-shak­ing event: The win­ners, even if their names could be re­called, would stir no ex­cite­ment. But one hand played was of a re­mark­able na­ture.

The bid­ding by the North-South pairs var­ied a great deal at the dif­fer­ent ta­bles, but nearly all of them ar­rived at six hearts, cer­tainly a rea­son­able un­der­tak­ing. When­ever West led his singleton di­a­mond, de­clarer in­vari­ably went down one. The South hand pro­gressed from ta­ble to ta­ble search­ing for a de­clarer who would make the slam, but it never en­coun­tered one. It was only in later anal­y­sis that the win­ning line of play was dis­cov­ered.

As­sume South wins the di­a­mond lead with the ace, draws trumps and cashes the di­a­mond king, learn­ing that East has two di­a­mond win­ners. The out­look may seem hope­less, but let’s say our heroic de­clarer next plays the A-2 of spades. When West fol­lows low, South fi­nesses the 10! This hur­dle sur­mounted, de­clarer then leads dummy’s king of clubs and, after East plays low, dis­cards the king of spades on it! These spec­tac­u­lar ma­neu­vers lead to a very sat­is­fy­ing de­noue­ment. West can do no bet­ter than win the club with the ace, but which­ever black suit he re­turns, the con­tract is firmly on ice. Dummy wins, and de­clarer dis­poses of his two di­a­mond losers on the queen of clubs and queen of spades. The hand demon­strates once again that in­ge­nu­ity in bridge has no bounds. How­ever, it would be a harsh critic who be­rated him­self for miss­ing the play shown, and, in fact, not one South cut his throat that night. But the fact re­mains that in the­ory, every de­clarer should have adopted this method of play, since it of­fered the only real chance to make the con­tract.

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