ARTISTIC ENDING by Stephen Rzewski Some of the better plays one sees at the table occur on hands where the result, good or bad, has already been determined. For example, declarer successfully executes a double squeeze in a slam, but only to go down one trick instead of two. Good players sometimes respectfully jest that “style points” should be awarded for such plays. In today’s hand, from an IMPs event at a Regional tournament, declarer managed to bring about an endplay for an overtrick, where he had already earned a decent score simply by going plus and making his contract: North ♠ AK2 ♥ KQJ96 ♦ 9 ♣ KJ43 West East ♠ Q108 ♠ J7 ♥ 8 ♥ A105432 ♦ AKJ86 ♦ 2 ♣ A1087 ♣ Q965 South ♠ 96543 ♥ 7 ♦ Q107543 ♣ 2 bidding: W N E S 1♦ dbl 1♥ 1♠ 2♣ dbl P 2♠ P P P opening lead: ♥ 8 The bidding is shown as it occurred. As a matter of style, some players might overcall 1♥ with the North hand, then subsequently follow through with a takeout double; this sequence would show the five-card suit, extra values, and a willingness to play other strains. South, with 6-5 shape, ventured a free 1♠ call in spite of his weakness, then pulled his partner’s second double with nothing to contribute to the defense. East might actually have bid on to 3♣, which seems likely to make, but was inhibited from doing so because of North’s double on the previous round. The jack of hearts was played from dummy at the first trick, East winning the ace. East’s best return is probably a diamond at this point (a club return might also result in a successful defense). If West can read his partner’s singleton, he can cash the ace of clubs and return a low diamond. The hand will now become unmanageable for declarer, and he will ultimately be defeated. However, East instead returned a heart at trick #2. South pitched his losing club as West ruffed with a natural trump trick. West cashed the king of diamonds, but couldn’t read his partner’s deuce as a singleton, and unsure as to how to proceed, played a trump. Declarer cleared the enemy trumps with the ace and king, leaving: North ♠ 2 ♥ KQ9 ♦ --- ♣ KJ93 West East ♠ --- ♠ --- ♥ --- ♥ 10432 ♦ AJ86 ♦ --- ♣ A1087 ♣ Q965 South ♠ 965 ♥ --- ♦ Q10754 ♣ --- South was now assured of making his contract, since he had two tricks in the bank, two heart winners in dummy and was destined to score his remaining four trumps individually. Do you see how he managed a sequence of plays that resulted in his gaining an overtrick? * * * * * * * South cashed dummy’s two high hearts, then played a third heart, covered by East and ruffed in declarer’s hand. Declarer then led the 10 of diamonds (actually, any diamond will do). West covered with the jack, but instead of ruffing with dummy’s last trump, declarer called for a club, allowing West to win the trick and putting that player on lead in the following position: North ♠ 2 ♥ --- ♦ --- ♣ KJ9 West East ♠ --- ♠ --- ♥ --- ♥ 4 ♦ A8 ♦ --- ♣ A10 ♣ Q96 South ♠ 96 ♥ --- ♦ Q7 ♣ --- West pondered her position for a full minute, looking for a way out; there was none. If she played the ace of diamonds, South would ruff in dummy, and the queen would be established. Similarly, playing the ace of clubs would establish dummy’s king, as South would ruff in his hand. If she played a low diamond, South would simply let that come around to the queen. Eventually, she found the best play of a low club, but South, reading the position, put up dummy’s king, discarding a diamond from his hand, and took the remainder with ruffs.