It Doesn't Take Much

One of the fascinating aspects of bridge is that it's an imperfect information game. Since the opponents don't know your cards, sometimes magic can be made of nearly nothing.

Playing the finals of the North American Swiss against one of the world's top-rated women players, neither team is doing well. She even tried to get us to withdraw before the match started. No dice. I am East:

S: J109763
H: 3
D: Q7
C: AQ96
S: K5
H: 109
D: 1063
C: K108432
All Pass
Partner leads the C:5. Declarer inserts the C:Q from dummy, and I win. No, declarer ruffs this. That's a bit of a surprise. If she has no clubs and doesn't have spade support, she has a lot of diamonds. Uh, oh. She rattles off the next few tricks in quick succession. H:A, heart ruff, club ruff, heart ruff, C:A, pitching the H:Q. Then she pauses for thought. I'm right there with her, though; she obviously has 2-4-7-0 shape. I have pitched a club on the high heart ruff in dummy. Eventually, she plays a spade from dummy. I'd better not play low. If I do, partner will win the S:Q and never think to lead to my king. So I fly with the king. Partner thinks about this for a little while, making me sweat, but eventually ducks it. All I need from partner to beat this is the singleton D:9, but perhaps even less than that will do. I continue with the high club. Declarer pitches her last spade away and partner discards as well. I continue with another club and she thinks for a little while and ruffs high. My D:10 becomes the setting trick. Partner only had the trump deuce but it was good enough!

As an aside, declarer really ought not have got this wrong. Partner is known to have three clubs and six hearts. Because he forgot to play the S:Q under my king (bad partner, bad!), he has to have at least three spades. That leaves no more than one diamond. Ruffing with the D:9 is clearly the percentage play.

After that hand, I remarked, "wow...we promoted your singleton trump deuce!" to partner. That's a pretty tough promotion to peform successfully, but it wasn't even the best that tournament!

Playing the the finals of the national Board-a-match, everything is going just right. All my swindles are working and the opponents just can't seem to do anything right. If we'd only had a reasonable game in the afternoon, we'd be able to win this thing. A nationally-ranked expert is on my right and I hold:

 S:KQ3 H:K86 D:A2 C:J8763
The bidding progresses strangely.
Pass 4H:PassPass
DblAll Pass
My partner is a famous expert known for his imagination in the bidding. Perhaps too much imagination. This time, however, I know what his double means. It announces a void somewhere. Obviously, that's clubs. I lead the C:8 with confidence that they are getting massacred. Dummy hits and I see:
S: 87
H: AQ9
D: J10965
C: K92
S: KQ3
H: K86
D: A2
C: J8763
As expected, partner ruffs the first trick and underleads his S:A to my S:Q. I continue with my lowest club, showing the D:A. He continues with a diamond and I win and give him another ruff. This time, I give suit preference for a spade and he underleads again. I continue with a fourth club and declarer ruffs with the trump queen, which promotes my H:K. Down four obviously wins the board. What's fascinating is that this time, we managed to promote partner's trump void!
Copyright © 2002 Jeff Goldsmith