The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Sunday, February 09, 2003


Ken Layne called me a bridge expert. It's a nice compliment but I think it slightly overstates my playing ability. Last night I played a few hands with a real expert.

When Hamish and I arrived in San Bernardino, we went to the hotel restaurant and saw Marshall Miles and John Jones. Miles has been a famous author since the 50's. I had met John through my friend and Southern California expert Jeff Goldsmith at the Toronto Nationals. Later in the week John asks if I wanted to play with him in the Santa Clara regional (which starts this Tuesday). I happily accepted the invitation. We spent last week emailing about what methods we would play; then he came into town this weekend to attend his son's youth hockey tournament, and I invited him to a gaming party held by friends of mine.

We played some games and then dealt some bridge hands for practice. This interesting hand came up:


















Dealer: South

John

S J T 9
H K 5 2
D A K 6
C K 5 4 3

Lead:D8
LHO

S Q 4 3
H J 8
D 8 7 5 2
C J 9 8 6
[W - E]
RHO

S 5 2
H Q 9 7 4
D Q T 9 4 3
C 7 5
 
Floyd

S A K 8 7 6
H A T 6 3
D J
C A Q 2
Result: Made 6





West
(LHO)

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

North
(John)

2 C
2 S
3 D
4 H
5 D
5 S
Pass

East
(RHO)

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

South
(Floyd)
1 S
2 H
3 C
3 H
4 N
5 H
6 S



An explanation of the auction: 2C was game forcing. The next three bids were natural; 3D, 3H, and 4H were cue bids. 4N was keycard Blackwood, and the 5D response showed one key card, which was obviously the diamond ace.

5H asked for the queen of trump. If John had bid 6C, showing the trump queen and the king of clubs, I would have bid the grand. 5S denied the queen, so I settled for the small slam.

LHO led the D8. I won on the table and immediately finessed the spade. (I was concerned that cashing a high spade first would use up an important entry or expose myself to a ruff. The finesse lost and LHO continued diamonds.

I pitched a heart and started running spades. I needed clubs 3-3, or for the same player to hold long clubs and the QJ of hearts. When I cashed the last spade, I had a feeling that throwing the diamond was wrong. But I knew RHO still had the queen of diamonds, and that he would discard after dummy. So I threw the diamond. As you can see, my squeeze does not work, but LHO misread the position and pitched a club, giving me the slam.

Then John said, "I think you should not cash the last spade. Play three rounds of clubs first." Here is the position after four rounds of spades and three rounds of clubs ending in hand; LHO and RHO threw diamonds:
















 
John

S
H K 5
D 6
C 3
LHO

S
H J 8
D 7
C J
[W - E]
RHO

S
H Q 9 7
D Q
C
 
Floyd

S 6
H A T 6
D
C


Now I play the last trump. LHO must keep the club; suppose he pitches his last diamond. I throw dummy's club, and RHO must keep a heart to guard dummy's diamond. Both opponents have two hearts so I take the last three tricks with hearts.

What if LHO pitches a heart? I pitch a club, and RHO can afford to throw the diamond. But now LHO has stiffed the heart jack, and I can cross to the heart king and finesse on the way back! So the hand can never be beaten.

I'm not sure what the squeeze is called. John called it a non-simultaneous double squeeze, but I have seen this position described as a guard squeeze. LHO has to keep winners in two suits, and thereby exposes RHO to a finesse in the third suit.

Special thanks to Aaron Haspel from whom I pilfered the hand formatting HTML.

Update:After I posted the original HTML I realized that it looked horrible. Aaron was kind enough to help me find my formatting mistakes. A great big THANK YOU to the God of the Machine!


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