Curious hand

The late Victor Mollo would probably start this blog with “Curious hand, observed the Secretary Bird, both opponents can endplay themselves”. This was the hand

, from a practice match yesterday evening in de Denktank, by far the best place in Arnhem to play bridge.

2 was multicolored, usually a weak 2 in a major. Double by north 13-15 balanced or a strong hand. 2 pass or correct, probably not the best way to treat that situation but that is besides the point here. The rest of the auction speaks for itself.

West led the 4 and things look quite hopeless for declarer: 2 club losers, a diamond loser and the spade finesse is almost certainly off. Anyway, small from the dummy, J, 9. East can see all the cards below the 4, so she knew this was a singleton and returned a club, small, ruff, small. East continued with a diamond to the ace. The contract looks a lot better now, the top clubs are with east and she is also marked with a singleton spade. 2 top trumps follow and things improved even further when the Q shows up. Now the K removing the only spade in the east hand, leaving this position:

The 7 was played and the opponents have a choice of who gets endplayed. If west wins, he can either return a diamond for a ruff and a sluff, or a spade which declarer will certainly let run to the jack. If east wins, she can also return a diamond for a ruff and a sluff. If she returns a top club, declarer ruffs, crosses to a spade and runs the Q to set up the 8, with the 8 still there as an entry.

Note that it does not matter what east plays at trick 2, the K has the same effect as long as declarer ruffs the 3rd round high, which is kind of obvious. Any other return allows declarer to draw trumps, concede a club and establish a trick with a ruffing finesse in clubs. Get your copy of Deep Finesse if you don’t believe me.

I didn’t make the last trick with the 7, but I do think that I’m entitled to a sip of the Hog’s whisky for this play.

Henk Uijterwaal 2019