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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in stevesgames' LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, December 20th, 2005
12:22 am
Bridge column
                          
                             OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE

                             by Stephen Rzewski

	To win matchpoint events, one must play well, make few mistakes, 
and hope for some luck.  Besides receiving some outright “gifts” from 
opponents, good luck can occasionally befall players who find themselves 
in poor, anti-percentage contracts, whether by result of a bidding 
misunderstanding, or by aggressive overbidding.  When faced with the 
prospect of playing what seems like a hopeless contract, it is essential
to keep one’s head and look for a favorable lie of the cards that will 
enable you to bring the requisite tricks home, no matter how improbable.
And conversely, when luck similarly smiles upon the opponents, one has 
to learn to philosophically accept what may seem like the slings and 
arrows of outrageous fortune—and move on to the next hand.

	On the last round of a two-session Sectional open pairs, where 
I sense that we might be in contention, I pick up: 
      
                  ♠ Q76   ♥ A76432   ♦ AK7   ♣ A

With neither side vulnerable, my LHO opens 1NT (14-17), and my partner 
overcalls 2♣.  In our methods, that call shows clubs and a five-card major,
which I can infer from my hand must be spades.  With a spade fit and all 
those controls, I have what looks like a great hand.  I bid 2NT, which we
use as an asking bid, and partner answers 3C, which is his weakest action,
indicating a bad hand without disclosing which major he holds.  Still, it
is hard for me to imagine a holding where we do not have some kind of play 
for game, so I bid 4♠, which is passed out (in retrospect, my 2NT inquiry 
was probably a pointless exercise).  LHO leads the ♦Q, and there is some 
hilarity when the dummy appears, as I see that partner really meant his 
3♣ call:
                                                                 
                               ♠ 109432
                               ♥ J9
                               ♦ 2
                               ♣ J10982

                               ♠ Q76
                               ♥ A76432
                               ♦ AK7
                               ♣ A

	Unfortunately, it looks as though we will be heading for an untimely 
minus score, as it will take some miraculous holding or bad defense for me 
to make this contract.   It looks like my best play is to take my side winners
and try to scramble as many ruffs as I can, and hope for the best.  So I win 
the diamond lead and start by playing my singleton ♣A, to lay the groundwork 
for scoring club ruffs in my hand.  It is a good thing that I am paying 
attention, as my often inattentive eyes catch sight of the queen on my left.

	Wait a minute.  To find out if that is a true card, I lead my low 
diamond, ruff in dummy, and play a 2nd club, ruffing in my hand.  As if 
answering a prayer, the king of clubs does in fact come down on the table.  
Instead of proceeding with my first idea of crossruffing, I change tactics 
by leading the queen of spades:  LHO pauses, then plays low, as RHO produces 
the ace.  He then leads a heart.  I play the ace, followed by the king of 
diamonds so as to discard dummy’s losing heart, then cross my fingers as I 
play a second spade.  I am almost afraid to look, as LHO wins the jack, and
RHO….   follows suit!  The dummy has only good clubs and two trumps against 
LHO’s lone remaining king.  If he leads a red card, I simply ruff and lead 
good clubs, the last trump giving me control.  Making +420.

	Actually, I have to confess to having made a subtle error in the play:
at the table, after winning the diamond lead, I made the mistake of playing 
the second high diamond and pitching a heart from dummy immediately.  This 
could have led to trouble when RHO won the ace of spades, as he could have 
defeated me by playing a 4th diamond, which would have made the hand unmanageable.
In fact, he saved me by playing a heart.  To be fair, from his point of view, 
I might have had a heart loser, which could go away if his diamond play resulted 
in giving me a ruff and sluff.

	Of course, if the defense had led a trump on opening lead and drawn 
three rounds, they would have enjoyed a club winner and defeated the contract, 
and I would have had no story to tell.

	The complete deal:
                                                                
                                   ♠ 109432
                                   ♥ J9
                                   ♦ 2
                                   ♣ J10982
                                   
                    ♠ KJ8                           ♠ A5
                    ♥ Q85                           ♥ K10
                    ♦ QJ654                         ♦ 10983
                    ♣ KQ                            ♣ 76543

                                   ♠ Q76
                                   ♥ A76432
                                   ♦ AK7
                                   ♣ A

	Just to show that the universe has its way of balancing out, 
following is a hand from a Regional tournament in Saratoga, last Spring,
on which I was a defender::
                                                                                                                      
                                   ♠ 74
                                   ♥ AK64
                                   ♦ J852
                                   ♣ 852


                                   ♠ AK3
                                   ♥ Q52
                                   ♦ AK3
                                   ♣ AQJ4

	At our table, the opponents who bid this hand had two misunder-
standings: in answer to South’s strong 2♣ opening, North responded positively 
in hearts, showing a good five-card suit, when he held only four.  Then later 
in a Blackwood auction, North responded 6♣ to 5NT, which South thought showed 
the king of that suit.  Based on those two pieces of misinformation, South 
bid what seemed like a reasonable 7NT.

	The opening lead was a spade, which declarer won in hand.  Well, to 
make this hand, declarer needed the king of clubs onside (it was), two entries
to dummy to take and repeat the club finesse (the two high hearts), clubs and 
hearts to both split 3-3 so as to make the long card in each suit (they did), 
and the most outrageous of all, the queen of diamonds to come down doubleton 
so as to score the jack for the 13th trick (down she came).  For this 
undeservedly bad result (known in the parlance as a “fix”) to befall us, I 
calculate the probability to be less than 1%**.  On a hand where no other pair,
quite reasonably, was even in a small slam, I think this was perhaps the 
roundest zero I have ever experienced.  Nonetheless, when the last card was 
played, all FOUR players at the table burst into laughter.

   ** Amend that to around 2%, as I failed to take certain possibilities into
account in my estimate.  See "comment" below, by my good friend, Michael Klein.
Sunday, December 18th, 2005
11:35 am
Bridge Column
                                          
		            ASSESSING THE CONTRACT

                              by Stephen Rzewski

	Unlike IMPs or rubber bridge, where small differences in scores 
generally have slight meaning, in matchpoint events, any difference, no 
matter how small, can have a great effect on the matchpoint outcome.  For
example, if the normal contract on a particular hand is a major-suit game 
yielding +420, and declarer is instead playing 3NT achieving +400 or +430 
instead, the small difference in the numbers can have major consequences,
probably resulting in a score significantly below or above average, perhaps
even a bottom or a top (for one such example, check one of our previous 
columns, entitled “Moysian Fit”).

	When the dummy appears, it always behooves declarer to assess the 
contract, not just from the perspective of his chances of fulfilling it, but
especially insofar as it is the likely one, or not, to be played at other 
tables.  If the contract is unusual, and possibly resulting in scores different 
from the typical contract, declarer must focus on outscoring the probable 
result in the normal contract, sometimes even taking desperate measures to do
so, lest he be outscored by the rest of the field.	

	Playing in a pairs game at a Sectional tournament, I pick up:

 	             ♠ K9642    ♥ KQ1082   ♦ 87    ♣ 6

Neither side is vulnerable, and my partner opens with 1♣.  The opponents are 
silent, and I respond 1♠.  Partner rebids 2♦, a “reverse” showing extra values,
and a two-suited hand with longer clubs than diamonds.  I would like to show 
the heart suit now, as there is some chance that partner has a 3-card major-suit
fragment, but unfortunately for me on this hand, we have agreed that 2♥ is an 
artificial bid, showing weakness and a desire to get out in a partscore.  If I
jump in hearts, we may get into trouble, as the meaning of that bid is undiscussed.
I decide to take the direct route to 3NT, since with this misfit, it may prove 
to be the best contract anyway.  Besides, by concealing the hearts, I may 
encourage the defense to lead that suit at some point.  That ends the auction,
which has been:

                   (partner)              (me)
		      1♣        P          1♠        P
                      2♦        P         3NT  (all pass)


	The opening lead is the deuce of diamonds, and I see:
	
                              ♠ A103
                              ♥ 9
                              ♦ AQJ4
                              ♣ AK1043
                            

                              ♠ K9642
                              ♥ KQ1082
                              ♦ 87
                              ♣ 6

            Well, so much for my clever thinking.  I expect that most of the field 
will be in 4♠.  Those declarers will be able to avoid a potential diamond loser 
by taking a fast club discard.  If the spades split normally (3-2), they will 
make 4 or 5, depending on how many hearts they lose.  Playing in 3NT, I am forced
to finesse the jack of diamonds, and my fears are proved right when RHO produces
the king.  However, he elects to lead back the 3 of hearts, the play I was 
hoping for.

            It may be right to play low here, hoping for the jack to be on my right,
but that doesn’t feel best.  If I am wrong and lose a trick to the jack now, I will
almost surely be held to only 9 tricks, which figures to be a disastrous result 
(+400 as compared to at least +420 in spades).  And even if I am correct, and the 
ace wins, LHO may be reluctant to continue the suit, as I would appear to him to 
have a strong heart holding.  Since I want to appear weak and therefore encourage
more heart plays, I go up with the king.  LHO does in fact win the ace and leads
back the 4.  I discard a club from dummy, and RHO thinks briefly before putting up
the hoped-for jack.  I win and play a third heart, just to verify that the suit is
running, and both opponents follow.  The following cards remain:

                               ♠ A103
                               ♥ -----
                               ♦ AQ4
                               ♣ AK10

                               ♠ K9642
                               ♥ 82
                               ♦ 7
                               ♣ 6

	Just as an aside, I have the sense that my opponents are relatively 
inexperienced and do not have good lead and carding habits.  Holding in fact 
J753, it might have been better for RHO to have begun the suit with a high 
spot rather than the 3 with such a weak holding.  Also, LHO, with A64, should
return the 6 and not the 4.  This may still have been difficult for his partner
to read, but either play might have enabled them to avoid continuing the suit,
or at the very least, helped RHO to avoid the play of putting up the jack on 
the 2nd lead.

	My position has improved considerably, as I have lost only two tricks
so far, and I now have eight winners remaining.  Still, I can envision that
many declarers in 4♠ may elect to pass the 9 of hearts to the ace, ruff a heart,
and make +450, so +430 may not be enough.  Is there any way I might be able 
to take the rest?

	Whenever declarer has all the remaining tricks but one, he should always
look for an opportunity to develop a squeeze.  Actually, there are a few squeeze
chances in this case.  For instance, either opponent may be squeezed if he 
started with four or more diamonds and three or more spades.  In addition, 
there is a slight chance of a positional squeeze on LHO if he began life with 
four diamonds and a club holding that includes the Q-J.  I can actually take
a line of play that will include both cases, and they seem like reasonable 
chances to play for.  

         In order to do so, I must play the top clubs, then the ace of spades
and another to my king.  Both opponents follow to the spade plays, RHO with 
the queen.  I now play the 8 of hearts from my hand, discarding dummy’s spade
(optionally, the 8 of hearts could have been played before the clubs), leaving:

		                     ♠ -----
                                     ♥ -----
                                     ♦ AQ4
                                     ♣ 10

                      (LHO)
                     ♠ J                                             
                     ♥ -----
                     ♦ 952                                               
                     ♣  ----                                              
                                     ♠ 96
                                     ♥ 2
                                     ♦ 7
                                     ♣ -----

	When I lead the good heart, LHO, who in fact started with both the 
spade and diamond length, has no safe play.  If he throws the jack of spades,
my spades will be good, and if he discards a diamond, I will throw dummy’s 
club and lead a diamond to dummy to run that suit.  The same play would have
worked had the spade and diamond length happened to be with RHO, making the 
squeeze “automatic”.  

	These plays all proved to be necessary, as several declarers had 
in fact scored +450, and there were also a couple of +460s, with whom the
top was shared.
	
	The full deal:
	                                                   
                                  ♠ A103
                                  ♥ 9
                                  ♦ AQJ4
                                  ♣ AK1043
                                   
                ♠ J75                                 ♠ Q8
                ♥ A64                                 ♥ J753
                ♦ 10952                               ♦ K63
                ♣ J85                                 ♣ Q972
                                                                   
                                  ♠ K9642
                                  ♥ KQ1082
                                  ♦ 87
                                  ♣ 6

	As an afterthought, the reader may have noticed that there is an 
additional squeeze chance, which does not work on the actual lie of the 
cards, but which would be correct on a slightly different layout.  If 
declarer had reason to believe that the diamond length was with LHO, and
the spade length was on the right, he could play for a double squeeze.  
To illustrate this case, exchange the ♠5 with the ♣2 in the above diagram.
Now at the mid-point of the hand, where the cards had come down to:

		                 ♠ A103
                                 ♥ -----
                                 ♦ AQ4
                                 ♣ AK10

                                 ♠ K9642
                                 ♥ 82
                                 ♦ 7             
                                 ♣ 6

Declarer, to play for the double squeeze, must play the high diamonds early,
then the ace and king of spades, ending in his hand, then the 4th heart 
(this card could have been played earlier), discarding dummy’s last spade, 
coming down to:

	                          ♠ -----
                                  ♥ -----
                                  ♦ 4
                                  ♣ AK10

                  ♠ -----                              ♠ Q
                  ♥ -----                              ♥ -----
                  ♦ 9                                  ♦ -----
                  ♣ J85                                ♣ Q97
                                                                   
                                  ♠ 96
                                  ♥ 2
                                  ♦ -----
                                  ♣ 6

	Declarer now leads the last heart.  LHO must keep the ♦9 to prevent
the ♦4 in dummy from becoming a good card, so he discards a club.  Declarer 
now throws dummy’s ♦ 4, and RHO, forced to hold the ♠Q to prevent declarer’s 
spades from becoming winners, also must let go a club.  With both opponents 
down to two clubs each, the ♣10 in dummy takes the last trick.  This play 
is called a “double squeeze”, because it operates on both opponents, in turn.

	So why did declarer opt for the first squeeze type and not the second?
The odds probably favor the chosen line somewhat, but the choice of plays 
just amounted to a good guess, basically.
Sunday, December 4th, 2005
10:27 am
Bridge Column


                               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.
Friday, November 18th, 2005
1:05 pm
Bridge Column

                              DEPT. OF DEFENSE (II)

                               by Stephen Rzewski


	          vul:  N-S
                  matchpoints
	                             
                                   North (dummy)

                                  ♠ 10
                                  ♥ J754
                                  ♦ A10962
                                  ♣ 753

                   West   (you)     
                                    
                  ♠ Q982                                              
                  ♥ K9                                                
                  ♦ 875                                               
                  ♣ J642

                    bidding:   N      E      S      W

                               P     1♦     1♠      P
                               P     dbl   redbl   1NT
                               P      P     2♠   (all pass)
	
   Trick #1:  you lead ♦5, 9, jack from partner, king from declarer.
         #2:  declarer leads ♥3, you play the king, 4, deuce.
         #3:  you continue with ♥9, 5, 10 from partner, 6.
         #4:  partner leads ♥Q, 8, you discard a diamond, 7.
         #5:  partner leads ♥A, declarer ruffs with ♠J …   ?

		    How do you defend from this point?

     *          *          *          *          *         *         * 

	The full deal:

		                      
                                   North

                                  ♠ 10
                                  ♥ J754
                                  ♦ A10962
                                  ♣ 753

                 West                                   East

                ♠ Q982                                 ♠ 64
                ♥ K9                                   ♥ AQ102
                ♦ 875                                  ♦ QJ43
                ♣ J642                                 ♣ K109

                                   South

                                  ♠ AKJ753
                                  ♥ 863
                                  ♦ K
                                  ♣ AQ8

	Don’t overruff declarer’s ♠J!  Look what happens if you do:  declarer
will now have an entry to the dummy (♠10), which will enable him to get a club
discard on the ace of diamonds.  He will then be able to take the club finesse
and draw your remaining trumps with the ace and king, to score up 9 tricks.

	If you discard instead of overruffing, you will not only deprive
declarer of access to dummy, but you will score two trump tricks instead of 
one.  Discarding effectively promotes your 9-8 of trumps to a second winner.

	At the table, West discarded a diamond at trick #5.  Declarer led a low
spade from his hand, hoping for West to duck.  West, understanding declarer’s 
problem, went up with the queen and led back the 9 of spades, trying to avoid 
the play of a minor suit.  Declarer did his best by winning the ace and king 
of trumps, then threw West back on lead with a small trump to the 8.  West now
had to break clubs, finessing his partner’s king, but South still had to concede
a slow club loser to West’s jack for down one.

	Refusing to ruff with the queen of trumps at the critical point in the 
hand resulted in a two-trick gain for the defense.

	There is one point about the auction worth mentioning:  one of the 
incentives for East’s re-opening double is to provide for the case where West
might have a penalty pass of 1Sx.  When South redoubles, a pass by West should 
still indicate a willingness to defend that contract; otherwise, if South were 
in trouble, he might be able to get the opponents to rescue him and pull the 
double by bluffing with a redouble.  Therefore, if West does not want to defend,
he must bid.

	Obviously, South would have done better to double 1NT instead of bidding
2♠, but these situations are often difficult to judge, as West might well have
had the 10 of spades, and his partner, North, could have been broke.
Saturday, September 10th, 2005
11:41 pm
Bridge column



                                TEST YOUR PLAY (III)

                                 by Stephen Rzewski

                     IMPs

                                                            
                                     North

                                    ♠ AKJ2
                                    ♥ AK7
                                    ♦ K7
                                    ♣ 9863

                                   
                                     South

                                    ♠ 1085
                                    ♥ Q82
                                    ♦ A4
                                    ♣ AK1042

	          bidding:    S        W        N        E

                              1♣       P       1♠        P
                             1NT       P       2♦        P
                              2♠       P       3♣        P
                              3♦       P       6♣  (all pass) 

                                opening lead:  ♦ J

	North’s 2♦ bid at his 2nd turn was a conventional forcing call (“New Minor 
Forcing”).  South’s 2♠ showed 3-card support in case North held a 5-card suit. 
North’s 3♣ in this sequence was a natural slam try in that suit.  When South bid 3♦, 
he was making an encouraging cue-bid, implying good clubs (with a less suitable hand,
he would have signed off in 3NT).

	You win the king of diamonds in dummy and lead a low club to the ace.  On 
this trick, East follows with the 5, and West plays the queen.  Plan the play.

	*          *          *          *          *          *          *

        The complete deal:

					
                                    North

                                   ♠ AKJ2
                                   ♥ AK7
                                   ♦ K7
                                   ♣ 9863

                      West                          East

                     ♠ 764                         ♠ Q93
                     ♥ 10654                       ♥ J93
                     ♦ J1095                       ♦ Q8632
                     ♣ QJ                          ♣ 75

                                    South

                                   ♠ 1085
                                   ♥ Q82
                                   ♦ A4
                                   ♣ AK1042


	This hand came from a Swiss teams match at a Sectional tournament.  At one 
table, South was a somewhat experienced player, who had read and learned the “Rule of 
Restricted Choice” (see an earlier article on this website, entitled “Find the Jack”,
hand #1).  He knew with this club combination that when an honor appears on the left, 
the percentage play is to finesse on the 2nd round of the suit against a probable 
holding of J-x-x on the right.  So he played a heart to dummy, led the ♣9 and passed 
it when East played the 7.  This lost to the jack.  Later, he had to fall back on the 
finesse for the queen of spades, which you can see was offside.  Result:  down 1 and 
certainly bad luck, as declarer’s choice of plays gave him better than an 80% chance 
of landing his contract.  This sort of result feels embarrassing, as an inexperienced 
player, who would not know about Restricted Choice, would typically play off the top 
clubs and make the contract easily.

	At the other table, South was a player of even greater experience.  He also 
knew about Restricted Choice, but chose to spurn the finesse and played the top 
clubs, catching West’s doubleton Q-J, just as the novice would.  So why did he choose 
to ignore the “right” play?  Because he saw that if the finesse actually did work 
(East holding J-x-x in trumps), he didn’t need to take it.  If West were to show out 
on the 2nd high club, declarer would play off his remaining high diamond and heart 
winners, then throw East in with a club to his jack.  East would now be endplayed, 
either by leading a spade to dummy’s tenace, or playing a red card, allowing South to 
sluff his losing spade while ruffing in dummy.  The chance of this line succeeding: 
virtually 100%.

	The moral:  Always consider the technically correct play of any given holding 
within the context of the complete deal.
Thursday, September 8th, 2005
3:35 pm
Bridge column
-
                                TEST YOUR PLAY (II)

                                by Stephen Rzewski

                       IMPs
                       vul:  both
                       dlr:  South
                                                             
                                      North

                                     ♠ K5
                                     ♥ AQ102
                                     ♦ J9
                                     ♣ QJ1054

                                   
                                      South

                                     ♠ AQ
                                     ♥ K43
                                     ♦ A87632
                                     ♣ 93

                      bidding:   S     W     N     E

                                 1♦    P    2♣     P
                                 2♦    P    2♥     P
                                2NT    P   3NT  (all pass)

                                opening lead:  ♠ J

	This hand came up in a Flight A Regional Swiss teams match.  As is often 
the case in tight competition, 6 of the 7 boards played were pushes.  The match
was won (& lost) on this board, where one declarer solved the hand, and the other
did not.  How would you have fared?  Plan the play.

          *          *          *          *          *          *         *    


	The complete deal:

		                          
                                      North

                                     ♠ K5 
                                     ♥ AQ102
                                     ♦ J9
                                     ♣ QJ1054

                    West                             East

                   ♠ J10972                         ♠ 8643
                   ♥ 76                             ♥ J985
                   ♦ 105                            ♦ KQ4
                   ♣ A762                           ♣ K8

                                      South

                                     ♠ AQ
                                     ♥ K43
                                     ♦ A87632
                                     ♣ 93

	The duplication in spades is annoying, since if you had a 3rd spade in 
either hand, you could simply establish the clubs.  That won’t work with the 
spade lead on the actual holding, because you would have to give up the lead 
twice in the club suit, and in the meantime the defense will have at least three
spade tricks set up so as to beat you.  So your only alternative is to go after
those anemic diamonds and envision a layout that will enable you to set up that
suit while giving up the lead only once.

	The odds are against you, but there are a few holdings that will work. 
What you have to hope for is a doubleton holding in the West hand which includes
the 10, with or without an honor, that is, either 10-x, K-10, or Q-10.  In all 
those cases, you must start the diamond plays from your hand, so win the ace of
spades and lead a low diamond toward dummy.

	In the cases where West holds K-10 or Q-10, most players will play the
high honor out of a reasonable fear of losing it, especially since declarer might
be leading from a strong holding headed by A-Q or A-K.  If West plays the 10 
instead, the jack will force the honor in the East hand.  Declarer can play the
ace when in next, dropping the stiff honor in West’s hand, and the suit will now
be good—that is, provided that declarer reads the position.

        If West wins the first diamond and presumably leads another spade, you 
will win the king in dummy and lead the jack of diamonds, pinning West’s remaining
10.  If East doesn’t cover, let the jack ride, then come to your hand with a 
heart, play the ace of diamonds and run the suit.

	If West holds 10-x, as in the actual hand, he will likely follow with his
low spot card at trick #2.  Put in the 9, forcing a high honor from East.  Win 
the spade continuation in dummy, and once again lead the jack of diamonds, 
intending to pass it as before if East does not cover.

	If West, holding 10-x, plays the 10 on the first diamond lead, he will 
create a problem for declarer.  Since a singleton 10 holding would be irrelevant,
as South can not play the suit for one loser if East has K-Q-x-x, South will 
have to guess on the second diamond play whether to run the 9, playing for East
to have started with K-Q-x, or go up with the ace, playing for West to have 
started with Honor-10.  

        This all means that, whether West holds honor-10 or 10-x, his best play
is actually to first play the 10 in each case (although admittedly a much more 
difficult play to make with the honor-10 holding), creating an ambiguity and 
forcing South to guess which play to make on the second diamond lead.  Probably
only a sophisticated defender, (or a naïve one, perhaps “giving count”) would 
make that play in tempo, however.  

	If you envisioned the right line (and presumably did not get the play 
of the 10 on the first diamond lead), your team gained 730 points (+630 & +100),
which translates into +12 IMPs and the match; nice going.
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005
11:49 pm
Weekly bridge column

                                  SURROUNDING PLAY 

			         by Stephen Rzewski

	     matchpoints
	     vul:  none

			              North

			             ♠ K75
                                     ♥ A8742
                                     ♦ AJ2
                                     ♣ 82

		      West                           East

	             ♠ AQ102                        ♠ 864
	             ♥ Q103                         ♥ K65
                     ♦ Q1043                        ♦ K976
	             ♣ 64                           ♣ A105
	                                
                                      South

                                     ♠ J93
                                     ♥ J9
                                     ♦ 85
                                     ♣ KQJ973

	             bidding:   N       E       S       W
                               1♥       P      1NT      P
		               2♦       P       3♣  (all pass)
           
                                opening lead:  ♦ 3    
    

	 In an earlier column, we discussed the need to remember the correct way of 
playing certain complex or infrequent card combinations as an element of successful 
declarer play.  That principle applies to defense as well.  

	In today’s hand, South does not have the values to bid 2♣ at his first turn,
since that call would imply better overall hand quality.  So he started with a 
"forcing" 1NT.  In this style, it is understood that North’s 2♦ call may be based on 
a 3-card suit.  South might have reverted to 2♥ at his 2nd turn, but elected to play 
in his own suit because of its quality and length.  In fact, both contracts should be 
defeated, but the defense has to be careful to do so in each case.

	West’s spade holding was unattractive as an opening lead, so he chose a low 
diamond.  South played low from dummy, hoping to induce a mistake on East’s part:  if
the diamond honors were divided and East played high, declarer might have a chance 
to take a diamond finesse with dummy’s AJ and dump a loser.  But East got it right 
when he put in the 9, holding the trick.  He then continued with a low diamond to his 
partner’s queen and dummy’s ace.  Declarer led a club from dummy.  East ducked his 
ace, but won the club continuation and played a third diamond.  South ruffed and drew 
the last trump, leaving:

         			      ♠ K75
                                      ♥ A874
                                      ♦ -----
                                      ♣ -----

	    	      ♠ AQ10                        ♠ 864
                      ♥ Q103                        ♥ K65
                      ♦ 10                          ♦ 9		
                      ♣ -----                       ♣ -----
					
		                      ♠ J93
                                      ♥ J9
                                      ♦ -----
                                      ♣ 97


	South didn’t like his chances, but he saw one possibility:  if hearts were 3-
3, he might be able to establish a long heart in dummy and use the king of spades as 
a way to get to it if the ace was with West.  To accomplish this, he would have to 
duck a heart, then when in next play a heart to the ace, ruff a heart, lead a spade 
up to the king, and pray, as a lot of things would have to go right. 

        Declarer led the jack of hearts from his hand, and when West covered with the
queen, he called for a low heart from dummy.   West was slightly surprised to be 
allowed to win this trick.  He thought for awhile and figured out what South was up 
to.  Realizing that a heart or diamond return would be futile, he attacked spades by 
playing the ace and then the 10.  But South simply let this come around to his jack,
losing just one spade and making his contract.

	The key play that West needs to make when in with the queen of hearts is to 
play the QUEEN of spades.  This not only removes the entry to dummy for the long 
heart, but preserves two potential spade tricks for the defense.  This play is called 
a “surrounding” play, because once the queen is played to the king, the remaining A-
10 surround the J-x in the opposite hand.  This combination is a good one to 
remember, as it occurs with some frequency.

	East might have made it easier for his partner if he had returned a spade 
at trick #2. If a spade is led from East, however, West must be careful to put in the 
10, not the ace.

       *          *          *          *          *          *          *  

	Here are some other surrounding play positions, which you may want to confine 
to memory, as you will encounter them from time to time.  Put yourself in the West 
position, and decide how you should attack the suit:


     1.                                                  
                                       Q42
     
                          KJ93                     A76

                                       1085

	If you lead low, declarer will play low from dummy, and partner will have to 
put up the ace or let South score his 10.  Instead, start by playing the jack.  If 
the queen is played, partner will win the ace, and his return will ensnare South’s 
10, which will be surrounded by your K-9, giving the opponents no tricks in the suit.

	However, the following position, with the same N-S cards distributed 
unevenly, must be treated differently:

				       Q4

                         KJ93                     A76

                                     10854

	In this 2nd case, if you are West and need four fast tricks in the suit, you 
must boldly start with the king, then play low to partner’s ace.  On the return, 
South’s 10-8 will be captured by your J-9.

     2.                                                                           
                                      AQ2

                        KJ93                       764

                                     1085

	If you lead low, South will let this come around to his 10 and still preserve 
the winning A-Q in dummy.  Instead, start with the jack.  Dummy’s queen will win, but
if either partner or declarer plays the suit a 2nd time, you will cover the 10 with 
the king, making your 9 good, and the opponents will be held to two tricks in the 
suit.

     3.                       
                                      AJ2

                          Q1083                    K76(4)

                                      95(4)

	A low card from West will force partner’s king, should the deuce be played 
from the North hand, giving North a winning tenace position with the A-J over the 
queen.  Instead, start with the 10.  If the jack and king are then played, your Q-8 
will surround the 9 on the return.  

	Exchanging the queen with the king in the E-W hands would obviously amount to 
the same holding.  Also, if one exchanges the ace and king in the North and East 
hands, to leave:
                                           
                                      KJ2

                           Q1083                   A76

                                      954

the lead of the 10 will have a similar effect, limiting the opponents to one winner 
in the suit.


     4.       
                                      J42

                          Q1083                   K76

                                      A95

	Again, West must lead the 10 rather than a low card, if he wishes to limit 
South to one trick.


     5. The position in today’s column is:

                                      K75

                         AQ102                   864

                                      J93

	If West needs to attack the suit from his side, he must start with the queen,
allowing the king to win.  He then needs to wait for partner or declarer to play the 
suit next in order to score two tricks.
Tuesday, August 16th, 2005
8:06 pm
Weekly bridge column
                                            
                                  INCORRECT ANALYSIS

			          by Stephen Rzewski


	On several occasions every year, bridge events are held in local clubs in 
which the same hands are played across the entire ACBL, or in some cases, world-
wide.  The events are popular because club players are given the opportunity to 
achieve a high score that may rank nationally or globally.  As a further attraction,
a record of the hands played, along with an expert analysis of each deal, is 
provided to every player on conclusion of play.

	Today’s hand came from one such event, an “International Fund Pairs”, held in 
1987.  Imagine yourself as the declarer, and try to think and play the hand along 
with the narrative:

	My partner and I are vulnerable and the opponents not, and in 2nd seat I pick 
up this promising collection:

		     ♠ AK9732     ♥ -----     ♦ A84     ♣ AKQ3


        My right-hand opponent, who is the dealer, begins with a weak 2♥.   Many 
years ago, a 3♥ cue-bid might have been used to show a hand of this type, but my 
partner and I have a different conventional understanding for that call, so I decide 
to start with a takeout double.  Over this, my left-hand opponent jumps to 5♥.  This 
is a good tactic from his side at favorable vulnerability, called an “advance 
sacrifice”.  He figures we can probably make a game somewhere, and elects to make the 
sacrifice bid against our contract before we actually reach it, rather than wait 
until we can determine at what strain and level we best belong, thus forcing us to 
guess whether to bid or double.  My partner passes, as does my RHO.  Well, I’m not 
going to let myself be shut out with a good playing hand like this one, so I bid 5♠. 
This is followed by a pass on my left.  My partner thinks for a bit, then bids 6♠, 
which is passed out.  The complete auction has been:

	               	    E      S      W      N
                           2♥     dbl    5♥      P
                            P     5♠      P     6♠ (all pass)

	West leads the ace of hearts, and the dummy comes down:		
                                                                
                                     ♠ QJ84
                                     ♥ J82
                                     ♦ J106
                                     ♣ 972
                                                                  

                                     ♠ AK9732
                                     ♥ -----
                                     ♦ A84
                                     ♣ AKQ3

	It probably would have been more judicious for partner to pass, since he 
knows I am counting on him for a little something.  Still, he does have very good 
trumps, and he could be right.  In any case, here I am in a slam.  How should I plan 
the play so as to come up with 12 tricks?

	I have 6 spades and 4 top tricks in the minors.  In addition, I can always 
ruff the 4th club in dummy after drawing trumps, giving me 11 tricks.  If the clubs 
are 3-3, the 4th club will be a winner, and I can discard one of dummy’s diamonds on 
that card, then give up a diamond and ruff a diamond for my 12th trick.  With all 
this aggressive pre-empting, though, I would be very surprised if the clubs split 
evenly.  Is there any other reasonable chance that I can play for in addition to the 
even club break?  

	If only that 8 of diamonds were the 9, I could take a double-finesse in 
diamonds.  With West leading the ace of hearts, East’s heart suit can only be headed 
by the KQ at most, which easily leaves room for a diamond honor in his hand in spite 
of his pre-emptive two-bid.  Is there any way I may be able to play the diamond suit 
for one loser with this combination, other than hoping for a defensive mistake?

	Besides a very lucky holding of KQ tight or singleton honor, there is also 
the chance of K-x or Q-x doubleton in either hand (most likely East, as few players 
would open a weak two-bid with 6-5 distribution).  If you thought that LHO had that 
holding, for instance, you could prevail by leading a low diamond from the closed 
hand.  If LHO played his honor, your J10 in dummy would give you a finessing position
against the remaining honor in RHO’s hand.  Conversely, if you thought RHO held a 
doubleton honor, you would start the diamonds by leading the jack from the dummy.  If
RHO played his honor, you would win and lead through LHO’s honor to establish the 
10.  And if either player ducked his honor on the first lead, your play would force 
the honor in the opposite hand, then you could pick off the remaining stiff honor 
with your ace.

	There is also the chance of an endplay, if either hand holds both diamond 
honors. That hand would most likely be West, since a weak two-bid with KQ in both red 
suits would be very rich.  To allow for that possibility, I will want to strip the 
hand as much as possible so as to force the opponents to lead diamonds in the end, as 
well as to try to get a count on their distribution.

	I shall draw trumps by leading to dummy’s honors, so as to ruff hearts on the 
way back.  So I start by ruffing the opening lead, then I lead a low spade to dummy’s
jack.  On this trick West discards a heart. 

        The 3-0 trump split is annoying, because I now won’t be able to draw three 
rounds of trumps and ruff all three of dummy’s hearts and still leave a trump in each
hand, limiting my end-play possibilities.  Still, I see no better way to continue, 
since playing the hand in this way will still help me build up a picture of the enemy 
holdings.  West may also have some discarding problems and under pressure may make a 
defensive error in that regard.  As my club holding is concealed, an opponent might 
easily make a careless discard of a club from something like 10xxx, which will make 
my 4th club good.

	After leading a spade to dummy’s jack, I lead the 8 of hearts and ruff in my 
hand, both opponents following.  I continue with a low spade to the queen:  on this 
trick West discards the deuce of diamonds.  I lead dummy’s last heart, the jack, 
which East covers with the queen; I ruff in my hand, West following suit.   This 
leaves:
	                                                                 
                                     ♠ 84
                                     ♥ -----
                                     ♦ J106
                                     ♣ 972
                                                                                                      

                                     ♠ A
                                     ♥ -----
                                     ♦ A84
                                     ♣ AKQ3

	West presumably began with four hearts, so he is out of major-suit cards now, 
having followed to three heart leads and discarding a heart and a diamond on the two 
trump leads.  East has one trump left, and now is the time to draw it with my ace. On 
this trick, West discards the 4 of clubs.  That may be the mistake I am looking for. 
So I next try the ace of clubs on which both opponents follow with spot cards, then I 
play the king, but no such luck:  West follows low, but East discards a heart.  

	That’s more bad news for another reason, as I now know East’s distribution. 
He is presumed to have begun with 6 hearts, 3 spades, and a singleton club.  That 
means he holds three diamonds, and West, who discarded a diamond earlier, now also 
holds three.  So there is no chance of playing either opponent for a doubleton 
honor.  Am I therefore licked?

	Not necessarily.  If West holds KQx of diamonds, I can strip the clubs from 
his hand and endplay him.  But I also see another chance now:  maybe that 8 of 
diamonds will prove to be of some use after all.  I lead my third high club:  West 
follows with the 10, and East discards a heart.  Then I lead my small club, West 
covers with the jack, I ruff with dummy’s last trump, and East plays another heart. 
All hands are now down to nothing but diamonds.  The lead is in dummy, and I am 
looking at:

				    J106

                                    A84

If West has KQx, I have him now, as I should simply lead the jack and pass it.  He 
will win and have to lead away from his remaining honor, on which I should play 
dummy’s 10.

	However, my gut feeling is that West does not hold both honors.  East had 
three opportunities to discard on the club plays and threw a heart each time.  It is 
true that an expert East, holding 9xx in diamonds would understand my problem and 
would have discarded all his hearts, since they are useless cards anyway, which he is 
known to hold, thus forcing me to guess the diamond holdings.  But East is not an 
expert, and most average players at some point in the hand will typically discard a 
low diamond from such a weak holding.  This suggests to me that the diamond honors 
are divided between the two hands.  I therefore believe that my best chance is to 
hope that West holds the 9 of diamonds, making my 8 the key card all along.  So I 
lead the jack, which is ducked by East and me to West’s king.  West leads a low card 
back, and I follow my instincts by playing low from dummy.  East can either play low 
and let me score the 8, or he can cough up the queen, the full deal being:

				
                                    North

                                   ♠ QJ84
                                   ♥ J82
                                   ♦ J106
                                   ♣ 972

                   West                               East

                  ♠ -----                            ♠ 1065
                  ♥ A764                             ♥ KQ10953
                  ♦ K972                             ♦ Q53
                  ♣ J10654                           ♣ 8

                                    South

                                   ♠ AK9732
                                   ♥ -----
                                   ♦ A84
                                   ♣ AKQ3


	Had West returned the 9 of diamonds, I would simply have covered with the 10, 
pickling East’s queen and establishing my 8.

        The opponents carded as well as they could.  If West had discarded a second 
diamond, for instance, South could well have figured him to have come down to Kx, and 
would have made the winning play of a low diamond from his hand before playing all 
the clubs.

	Interestingly, the hand analysis you are given after the game states that on 
the normal ace of hearts lead, 6♠ can not be legitimately made, as E-W must come to 
two diamond tricks!
Thursday, August 11th, 2005
8:45 am
Weekly bridge column


                                   STRIP SQUEEZE

                                 by Stephen Rzewski

       Try your hand at the following play problem, which came up at a local 
duplicate club game:

                                                                                       
                                      North

                                     ♠ 972
                                     ♥ AK6
                                     ♦ KQ109
                                     ♣ A83


                                      South

                                     ♠ KQ
                                     ♥ J74
                                     ♦ AJ7
                                     ♣ Q10765

        
                      bidding:   S      W      N      E

                                 1♣     1♠     2♦     P
                                 2NT    P     3NT  (all pass)

	         opening lead:   ♠ 10 (showing 0 or 2 honors higher)

	East follows with the 4 of spades on the opening lead, and you win the 
queen.  Decide on a line of play before reading on. 

         *        *        *        *        *        *        * 

         You have eight top tricks.  The problem with trying to set up club tricks is 
that as soon as you give up the lead, West is likely to run a pile of spades on you.

        There are a couple of remote chances, such as a doubleton queen of hearts, or 
a singleton king of clubs, but before committing yourself to such improbable cases, 
start by playing your best suit and watch the discards.  On the first three diamond 
leads, everyone follows, but on the 4th diamond, West throws a heart.  Now you might 
test the hearts to see if a small miracle happens:  on the ace, both opponents follow 
low, then on the king, no queen appears, but West throws a spade.  

        Many players would essentially give up and play the ace of clubs now, 
settling for down one unless the king is singleton.  But you should stop and ask 
yourself:  with West out of red cards, why is he throwing away a potentially good 
spade?  The answer is that he must be protecting something in clubs.  Even if he 
began with a 6-card suit, he can’t have more than four spades left now.  So you 
should lead a spade, in the following position:

                                                                
                                     ♠ 97
                                     ♥ 6
                                     ♦ -----
                                     ♣ A83    
                                               

                     ♠ AJ86                                                
                     ♥ -----                                               
                     ♦  -----                                               
                     ♣ K4                                               
                                     ♠ K
                                     ♥ J 
                                     ♦ -----
                                     ♣ Q1076


        West can cash his four spade winners, but on the run of those tricks you 
sluff down to the A-8 of clubs in dummy and the Q-10 in your hand.  West is now 
endplayed and must lead a low club away from the king, which you allow to come around 
to your queen for the game-going trick.  The full deal:    


                                                                       
                                                              
                                      ♠ 972
                                      ♥ AK6
                                      ♦ KQ109
                                      ♣ A83
                                   
                      ♠ AJ10863                       ♠ 54
                      ♥ 92                            ♥ Q10853
                      ♦ 432                           ♦ 865
                      ♣ K4                            ♣ J92

                                      ♠ KQ
                                      ♥ J74
                                      ♦ AJ7
                                      ♣ Q10765


	Declarer might come around to this play almost accidentally in the manner 
described above, but one might also conceive the general line of play from the very 
beginning, as West’s overcall would be pretty thin without the king of clubs on the 
side.  The key point on a hand like this one is to visualize two or more defensive 
assets in the same hand, here the long spades and the king of clubs, then try to put 
pressure on that hand by playing off as many winners as possible in the other suits. 
The play is called a “strip squeeze”, since one begins by stripping the West hand of 
all the cards in the irrelevant suits (in this case hearts and diamonds), mostly to 
deprive him of any possible exit cards in those suits in preparation for a throw-in 
and endplay.   Additional winners in those suits may then compress that player’s 
black-suit holdings to his disadvantage.

	The same line of play would also work if West had started with only five 
spades and a hand such as:  

	                   ♠ AJ1086   ♥ 92   ♦ 432   ♣ KJ4


          In this case, West would probably discard a club on the 6th red-suit play. 
In any event, it is essential that the top hearts be played as well as the diamonds 
in order to remove any possible exit cards in West’s hand, so that when he is given 
the lead with a spade, he will be forced to lead a club in the end.


          Now try another:
                                       North

                                      ♠ AQ8
                                      ♥ A109
                                      ♦ 765
                                      ♣ 8432

                                        
                                       South

                                      ♠ K7
                                      ♥ KQ6
                                      ♦ K10
                                      ♣ AQ10765


		        bidding:  S      W      N      E

                                 1♣      1♦     2♣     P
                                 2NT     P      3NT   (all pass) 

	                       opening lead:  ♦ Q


	North has an awkward call at his first turn.  A negative double, which would 
imply 4-4 in the majors is out of the question, and passing is very risky with such 
good values.  A 2♦ cuebid, promising a limit raise in clubs, seems pushy with a 
square hand and only four weak trumps.  The simple raise is probably the least of 
evil choices.

	On the first trick, East follows with the 4, as you win the king.  Again, 
plan the play before reading on.

	*          *          *          *          *          *          *  

	Once again, you have eight top winners.  If you can pick up the club suit, 
you will end up with all 13 tricks, but if you get the suit wrong, you will go down. 
If you think the king of clubs might be in the East hand, the best play is probably 
to lead a low club from dummy and finesse the queen, but what if the king is in the 
West hand?  Should one simply go up with the ace and hope the king is singleton, or 
is there an alternative play?

        Knowing the opponents’ bidding style can sometimes be helpful in deciding 
which hand holds the king of clubs.  One would normally expect such an honor to be in 
the overcaller’s hand, since, once again, a bid on the West hand without a side card 
would be a very light action.  But players seem to bid much more aggressively today, 
and some might make a tactical bid with AQJxx and no side card, especially as a lead-
directing call.  With a 6-card suit such as AQJxxx, one would expect a player with no
outside card to make a pre-emptive 2♦ call, but bid only 1♦ with a more constructive 
hand (such as one that includes the king of clubs).  However, many players also don’t 
follow such guidelines and will make the jump overcall with both hands.

         Since your first play in the club suit will likely determine the outcome of
the deal, postpone the clubs and play off your major-suit winners before committing 
yourself, and once again, watch the discards to see if you can glean any pertinent 
information as to the location of the king of clubs.  If West actually holds that 
card along with the long diamonds, perhaps you can apply some pressure on his hand.

	Let’s suppose you start by playing your three heart winners, on which both 
opponents follow.  When you next play the king of spades, both opponents follow, but 
when you lead a low spade to the ace, West shows out, discarding the 13th heart. Then
on the queen of spades, he throws a diamond.

	Once again, with West stripped of his major-suit cards, the discard of a 
potential diamond winner suggests that he is protecting clubs.  The club finesse will 
probably fail, so lead a diamond and let West cash his four winners.  He will be 
endplayed in clubs, forced to lead into your A-Q to give you your 9th trick.  The 
full deal:                            
                                                                 

                                     ♠ AQ8
                                     ♥ A109
                                     ♦ 765
                                     ♣ 8432
                                   
                       ♠ J                         ♠ 10965432
                       ♥ 8753                      ♥ J42
                       ♦ AQJ932                    ♦ 84
                       ♣ K9                        ♣ J

                                     ♠ K7
                                     ♥ KQ6
                                     ♦ K10
                                     ♣ AQ10765


	Possession of the 10 of diamonds in your hand adds some insurance to this 
play, since if East held that card, he would be able to win the attempted throw-in, 
cash major suit winners, or lead a club from his side to set you.

	An important factor declarer needs to read is the discomfort level shown by 
the West hand during the play.  An average player, for instance, will usually exhibit 
some pain and suffering as he gets down to the crucial discards, which can give away 
the vital information declarer needs to know to make the right play.  An expert 
defender, on the other hand, will foresee what is happening early in the play and may
well casually discard a club on the last major-suit winner, or perhaps even earlier 
in the play, baring the king. Will declarer get it right, and go up with the ace of 
clubs in that instance?   If declarer is himself an expert, and judges his left-hand 
opponent capable of such a play, then quite possibly yes; otherwise, probably not.  

	(Thanks to my good friend, Jeff Lehman, for providing the 2nd deal).
Thursday, August 4th, 2005
3:21 pm
Weekly bridge column

			          SCISSORS COUP

			       by Stephen Rzewski

	vul:  both
        matchpoints
				     North

	                            ♠ Q9
                                    ♥ J62
                                    ♦ AQJ72
                                    ♣ QJ5

                    West                           East

                   ♠ AK2                          ♠ 54
                   ♥ A753                         ♥ KQ1084
                   ♦ 84                           ♦ 1096
                   ♣ 9843                         ♣ K107

                                     South

                                    ♠ J108763
                                    ♥ 9
                                    ♦ K53
                                    ♣ A62

	          bidding:    N       E       S       W

                              1♦      1♥      1♠       2♦
                              P       2♥      2♠       3♥
                              3♠      P       P        P

	                       opening lead:  ♦ 8

	Today’s hand was played in a Flight A event at a Regional tournament in 
Albany many years ago. The bidding is typical of the tight competitive auctions at 
matchpoints, as each side bid to their par spot.  West’s 2♦ cue-bid was intended to 
show a good, invitational raise of hearts, in case his partner had overcalled with a 
better hand.    

	On the surface, it looks as though South ought to be able to take ten tricks,
but the defense against 4♠ would be fairly routine.  Suppose West led his ace of 
hearts.  On seeing the dummy, the defense need only attack clubs and develop a slow `
trick in that suit before declarer can knock out the trumps and enjoy the diamonds.

	West found the only lead to give the defense a chance to defeat 3♠.  With two 
stops in the trump suit, he decided to go for a diamond ruff.  Here is how one might 
project the defense:  declarer wins the diamond lead, plays a trump, West winning. 
Then would come a second diamond by West, followed by another trump play.  West would 
win again, then underlead his ace of hearts to get to his partner (West was the 
caliber of player who was quite capable of doing this), who would play a third 
diamond, giving West his ruff.  West would then simply exit with a heart, and South,
out of diamonds himself and having no direct link to dummy, would have to play clubs 
out of his hand and concede the king to East. Result:  down one.

	So what could declarer do to avoid this disaster?  The answer is remarkably 
simple; one has only to think of it.  At trick #2, instead of playing on trumps, 
South led a heart!  East won and played a second diamond, but declarer won and was 
now in control.  On the first trump lead, West won, and try as he may, he had no way
to reach his partner’s hand, since the early heart play had cut the only link between 
the defenders (thereby known as a “Scissors Coup”).  He first tried a club:  queen, 
king and ace.  In again with a high spade, he underled his ace of hearts in the thin 
hope that the overcall was based on a 4-card suit.  South ruffed, drew the last 
trump, and was able to discard his club loser on dummy’s diamonds.  Making four, for 
+170, a good matchpoint score on this hand.

	Once South makes the play of a heart at trick #2, the best East-West can do 
is to then give up on diamonds and attack clubs to set up the slow winner there, but 
declarer will always make his contract.
Wednesday, July 27th, 2005
11:55 pm
Weekly bridge column

                                     COUNTDOWN

                                 by Stephen Rzewski

	Playing against the only competent team (besides yours, of course) in a Swiss 
event at a small Sectional tournament, you find yourself facing the following play 
problem.  As you read the account, try to answer each of the numbered questions 
before continuing:
 
	
                                      North

                                     ♠ A42
                                     ♥ AKQ
                                     ♦ KJ8
                                     ♣ AQ82


                                      South

                                     ♠ KQJ
                                     ♥ J95
                                     ♦ Q65
                                     ♣ K1053


	             bidding:   S      W      N      E

                               1♣      P      2♣     P
                               2NT     P     5NT     P
                               6NT    (all pass)

                              opening lead:  ♦ A


	Forty years ago or more, few players would have considered the South hand 
worth an opening bid, but times have changed, and most today tend to open any 
reasonable collection containing 12 or more high-card points.

	North has a problem at his first turn with such a powerhouse, but he chose 
the “inverted minor” raise of 2♣, which is forcing for one round, hoping to get a 
better idea of what to do after his partner’s rebid.   South’s 2NT call defined his 
hand within a narrow range of 12-14 hcp and balanced shape.  The 5NT call by North is 
a quantitative raise, forcing to a small slam and inviting his partner to bid a grand 
slam with a maximum.   With a dead minimum, South settled for the 12-trick contract.

	West started the proceedings by cashing the ace of diamonds, then continuing 
with a small diamond, East following both times.

     1)	How do you assess the contract, and what is your general plan?

           *          *          *          *          *          *          *

	You have eleven top tricks, and there will obviously be no problem if clubs 
divide 3-2, so you should assume they will split 4-1 or worse.  It might seem natural 
to play off the ace and queen, enabling you to finesse against J-x-x-x in the East 
hand if West shows out.  Possession of the 8-spot in dummy, however, makes it just 
possible to pick up J-9-x-x in the West hand by leading twice toward dummy and taking 
a double finesse.  This is admittedly a highly improbable holding.  Nevertheless …

     2)	Is there any way to play the hand to cover all the routine cases and still 
guard against J-9-x-x (-x) in the West hand?

          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

	Yes, at least possibly.  The answer is to defer playing the clubs and first 
play as many side winners as possible in an attempt to get a count on the opponents’ 
hands.  There is some guesswork involved on where to begin, but let's suppose 
that you elect to play a third round of diamonds.  On this trick, West shows out, 
discarding a spade.  

     3)	What suit should you play next, hearts or spades?

          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

        You should play hearts, not spades.  Now that West is known to have started 
with only two diamonds, the possible danger of his holding long clubs has increased 
somewhat.  Should you need to make two club leads from the South hand late in the 
play, you may need a side entry to do so.  Since only the spade suit offers entries 
to the closed hand, and the heart suit does not, you should play all your heart 
winners and refrain from playing spades until later.

	Both opponents follow to the first two hearts, but on the third round, West 
again shows out, discarding another spade.  

	4)  Should you now play three rounds of spades?              	

         *          *          *          *          *          *          *

	No, you should play only two rounds, including the ace in dummy, and leave an 
entry to the closed hand, for the reason explained above. 
 
        On the ace and king of spades, both opponents follow suit.

        5)  What do you now know about the opponents’ distribution?

          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

		West showed out on the third round of both diamonds and hearts.  That 
means that East started with five cards in each of those suits.  East also followed 
to both spade leads.  So there is room in East’s hand for only one club at most,
marking him with a singleton or void.  Therefore, West has at least four clubs.

	6)  So how should you play the club suit?

          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

	You should start with the king, guarding against a possible singleton jack in 
the East hand. If East follows low or shows out, lead a club of your choice from the 
South hand.  If West follows low, finesse the 8 with full confidence.  If he splits 
his two high clubs by playing the 9, play the queen, then use that well-preserved 
spade entry back to your hand to take a 2nd finesse through West’s remaining  J-x 
toward dummy’s A-8.  The full deal:

	
                                       North

                                      ♠ A42
                                      ♥ AKQ
                                      ♦ KJ8
                                      ♣ AQ82

                         West                        East

                        ♠ 108763                    ♠ 95
                        ♥ 83                        ♥ 107642
                        ♦ A4                        ♦ 109732
                        ♣ J974                      ♣ 6

                                       South

                                      ♠ KQJ
                                      ♥ J95
                                      ♦ Q65
                                      ♣ K1053


	Did you expect to win a lot of IMPs on the hand?  Well…  it turns out that 
the opponent holding your hand at the other table found the same line and was equally 
disappointed to only earn a push on the board.  Some days, you have to be at your 
best just to break even.
Sunday, July 24th, 2005
4:54 pm
Weekly bridge column

                                    DEPT. OF DEFENSE

                                   by Stephen Rzewski

              Vul:  E-W
              matchpoints   
  
                                     North (dummy)
                                                                   
                                    ♠ K8743
                                    ♥ J10
                                    ♦ 1065
                                    ♣ K72

                     West   (you)                                     

                    ♠ 952                                             
                    ♥ 985                                           
                    ♦ A84                                           
                    ♣ 10853      

                      bidding:   E       S       W       N

                                1♥       2♦      P       P
                                dbl      P       2♥      3♦
                                 P       P       P    
  
		                 opening lead:  ♥ 5                

	Often when you are defending, the opponents are typically playing with the 
preponderance of high-card strength, and your assets may be meager.  Under such 
circumstances, one can easily lose interest and concentration.  It may be essential,
however, to focus on the few values you have and try to make the most of them.

	Today’s hand came from a Regional tournament in Sturbridge. Imagine yourself 
defending with the West hand on the auction shown, and the play starts:

	    trick #1:  ♥5 from you, 10 from dummy, queen from partner, ace from 
declarer.
            trick #2:  ♥ 3 from declarer, 9 from you, jack, king from partner.
            trick #3:  ♥ 7 from partner, 4 from declarer, 8 from you, ♦5 (ruff) from 
dummy.
            trick #4:  ♦ 6 from dummy, 3 from partner, jack from declarer, and you 
play…..?

            How do you plan the defense from here?  Decide before reading on.

	   *          *         *         *         *         *         *  

        The full deal:

		
                                          North

                                         ♠ K8743
                                         ♥ J10
                                         ♦ 1065
                                         ♣ K72

                     West                                   East

                    ♠ 952                                  ♠ AQ10
                    ♥ 985                                  ♥ KQ762
                    ♦ A84                                  ♦ Q3
                    ♣ 10853                                ♣ J64

                                          South

                                         ♠ J6
                                         ♥ A43
                                         ♦ KJ972
                                         ♣ AQ9



                You must duck your ace of diamonds.  Partner’s play of the third 
heart, encouraging the ruff in dummy, and the play of the trumps suggests that 
declarer’s suit is broken and that partner may have the queen.  If so, your 8-spot 
may have some potential in a trump promotion, but not as long as the 10 is in dummy.
Ducking the ace will also help to clarify the hand generally, as you will have a 
better idea of the layout of the hand based on declarer’s next play:  whether or not 
the trump suit is broken or solid, where partner’s black-suit values lie, and so 
forth.  At the table, declarer did in fact play a club to dummy’s king, then led the 
10 of diamonds:  queen from partner, king from declarer, ace from your hand, leaving 
the following:  

                                                                
                                        ♠ K8743
                                        ♥ -----
                                        ♦ -----
                                        ♣ 72
                                   
                  ♠ 952                                     ♠ AQ10
                  ♥ -----                                   ♥ 62
                  ♦ 8                                       ♦ -----
                  ♣ 1085                                    ♣ J6
                                                  
                                       ♠ J6
                                       ♥ -----
                                       ♦ 972
                                       ♣ AQ

	It is now easy for you to lead a spade, on which declarer plays low from 
dummy, and partner wins the queen.  Partner plays a heart (alternatively, partner 
could have cashed a 2nd spade first), and declarer is cooked.  At the table, declarer 
discarded her remaining spade loser, but this was easily countered with a discard 
from your hand.  Partner, still on lead, continued with his last heart, and your 8 of 
diamonds is promoted to the setting trick.  If declarer ruffs high, you simply 
discard; if declarer ruffs low, you overruff.

	Notice that if you had won the ace of diamonds on the first lead of the suit, 
the trump promotion would not have been achieved.   Say you had chosen to win the 4th 
trick and then led a spade to partner, who could take two tricks in that suit with 
the ace and queen.  The defense would then have been finished.  A heart play from 
partner would have done no good, as declarer could ruff low, and if you overruffed 
with your 8, dummy would be able to capture that trick with the 10, which would still 
be unplayed at that point.  Declarer would then simply get back to her hand and draw 
the remaining trumps with the king, making her contract.
Tuesday, July 19th, 2005
10:11 pm
Weekly bridge column
				       MOYSIAN FIT

			            by Stephen Rzewski

	             vul:  E-W
                     dlr:  South
                     matchpoints
					 North

					♠ 83
                                        ♥ J1097
					♦ AQ64
					♣ 632

		        West                               East

		       ♠ AK1072                           ♠ QJ654
                       ♥ K532                             ♥ 86
                       ♦ 52                               ♦ 93
                       ♣ 108                              ♣ 9754
                                         South

				        ♠ 9
                                        ♥ AQ4
                                        ♦ KJ1087
                                        ♣ AKQJ

	              bidding:   S      W       N       E

                                 1♦     1♠     dbl      3♠
                                 4♣     P       4♦      P
                                 4♥     P       P       P

                                opening lead:  ♠ A

	A major-suit game where declarer has only a 4-card trump suit opposite 3-card 
support is often referred to as a “Moysian fit”, named after Alphonse “Sonny” Moyse,
 a renowned player of the Culbertson era and editor of “The Bridge World” magazine 
during the 1950s-60s.  Moyse was a strong advocate of this type of fit, although for 
most players, it is one to be avoided because of the paucity of trumps and the 
likelihood that the opponents’ holding will divide 4-2 or worse (the odds of a 3-3 
division are only about 36%).  Occasionally, though, it does prove to be the best 
contract, but delicate judgment is required.  In this author’s experience, the most 
important points to consider when electing to go this route are:  (1) the trump suit 
should be very strong, so that declarer can control its play effectively, and (2) if 
the opponents have a suit to lead which will force declarer to ruff, it helps greatly 
if there is shortness in that suit in the hand with the 3-card support, so that the 
ruff can be taken without reducing the 4-card length. 

	Today’s hand occurred in a Sectional Open Pairs on Cape Cod some years ago. 
North’s double was “negative”, promising at least four hearts and enough in high-card 
values to make a noise.  East’s 3♠ call was pre-emptive.  Holding five trumps and two 
doubletons, he resisted the urge to bid 4♠ because of the unfavorable vulnerability. 
Had he done so, South would likely have doubled and set that contract two tricks to 
score +500, more than the value of a non-vulnerable game.   After North showed a 
preference for diamonds over clubs, South tried 4♥, patterning out his shape as 1-3-5-
4.  North knew that South had only three hearts, since he had not bid hearts at his 
second turn.  Perhaps she should have pulled 4♥ to 5♦ with such weak trumps, but 
South probably wouldn’t have offered the contract unless he had strong hearts 
himself.  Besides, the lure of achieving a superior matchpoint score was too tempting 
to resist, especially since few, if any players figured to be in the major-suit 
game.  

	The defense started with the ace and king of spades, South taking the ruff in 
the short hand. Now came the tricky part:  do you see how declarer played so as to 
bring in ten tricks…..?

	Obviously, in order to enjoy the side winners, declarer must draw some 
trumps.  But if he plays the ace and queen, West will win the king and play a third 
spade.  Now the ruff must be taken in the long hand, and at that point, West will 
have one more trump than dummy, and declarer will eventually lose control of the hand 
from repeated spade leads and go down.  The key play that South must make is to start
trumps with the queen, not the ace.  If West wins and plays another spade, declarer 
can ruff with his remaining ace, then get to dummy with a diamond to play the J109 of 
hearts and draw the remaining trumps.  At the table, West ducked the queen of hearts 
(best).  But South now continued with the ace, then simply abandoned trumps and 
played minor-suit winners.  West scored both his trumps, but whenever he ruffed in, 
dummy had the trump advantage, and thus declarer maintained control.  South scored 
his ten tricks for +420, a cold matchpoint top, as most of the other pairs played the 
routine 5♦ for +400.  The few who bid to 6♦, a reasonable contract which depends on 
the heart finesse, ended up with an unlucky down one.
Sunday, July 10th, 2005
8:45 am
Weekly bridge column (revised 7/19/05)

                                    TEST YOUR PLAY

                                   by Stephen Rzewski

       (from Mashpee game of 7/8/05, board #9; E-W changed to N-S for convenience)

				                  
                                        North

                                       ♠ A2 
                                       ♥ AQ98
                                       ♦ 8632
                                       ♣ 975


                                        South

                                       ♠ Q75
                                       ♥ K7
                                       ♦ 54
                                       ♣ AKQ1086


                        bidding:   S      W      N      E

                                  1♣     1♦     1♥     P
                                  3♣     P      3♦     P
                                  4♣     P      5♣  (all pass)

	North felt he had enough to force to game opposite his partner’s jump rebid. 
His 3♦ call was intended as a probe for notrump, asking partner to bid 3NT with a 
diamond stop.  When South couldn’t oblige, North opted for the eleven trick game.

	West leads the king of diamonds, East overtaking with the ace and leading 
back the jack.  West in turns overtakes with the queen and continues with the 10, 
which you ruff.  Decide on a line of play before reading the answer below.

         *          *          *          *          *         *          *  


	The full deal:

                                       ♠ A2
                                       ♥ AQ98
                                       ♦ 8632
                                       ♣ 975

                          ♠ J843                     ♠ K1096
                          ♥ J65                      ♥ 10432
                          ♦ KQ1097                   ♦ AJ
                          ♣ J                        ♣ 432

                                       ♠ Q75
                                       ♥ K7
                                       ♦ 54
                                       ♣ AKQ1086

	Looking at just the N-S hands, there are a couple of very unlikely cases that 
might bring this contract home, such as a singleton king of spades or one opponent 
holding J10x of hearts, but your best chance is a squeeze, very much like the ones we 
have been illustrating in our most recent columns. There are actually two different 
squeeze chances, and one can in fact play the hand in such a way as to take both 
possibilities into account.

	The first chance requires that the king of spades be in the same hand as the 
one which holds the long hearts.  This is the case that actually existed on the deal 
in question.

	The proper sequence of plays which will include all chances is to draw trump 
(three rounds required), play the ace of spades (Vienna Coup), lead a heart to the 
king and play off all your trumps.  In the case of the actual deal above, the end 
position will be:

                                                              

                                ♠ -----
                                ♥ AQ9
                                ♦ 8
                                ♣ -----
                                               ♠ K
                                               ♥ 1043
                                               ♦ -----
                                               ♣ -----
                                ♠ Q7
                                ♥ 7
                                ♦ -----
                                ♣ 8

	South plays the last trump, discarding the diamond from dummy, and East has 
no safe discard. He can’t pitch a heart, or else the small heart in dummy will be 
good, so he should throw the king of spades, in the hope that his partner holds the 
queen.  South now cashes the good queen of spades and the two high hearts.

	Because the two menaces (the 4th heart and the queen of spades) are divided 
between the N-S hands, the squeeze is said to be “automatic”, meaning that it could 
operate against either opponent. This can be illustrated by interchanging the E-W 
hands and making the same sequence of plays.   

	The second chance is a possible heart-diamond squeeze against West.  If one 
were to change the West hand slightly by giving him one more heart and one less 
spade, so that he holds, for example: 

                         ♠ J84   ♥ J653   ♦ KQ1097   ♣ J

then in addition to the chances discussed above, West could be squeezed in the red 
suits.  Dummy’s small spade should be pitched early and the 4th diamond should be 
retained, bringing about this hypothetical end position:

	                                 ♠ -----
                                         ♥ AQ9
                                         ♦ 8
                                         ♣ -----

                            ♠ -----
                            ♥ J65
                            ♦ 9
                            ♣ -----
                                         ♠ Q7
                                         ♥ 7
                                         ♦ -----
                                         ♣ 6

          South, who has the lead, plays his last trump, and West is doomed.  If he 
throws his last diamond, dummy’s 8 will become a winner, and if he throws a heart, 
the now useless 8 of diamonds will be pitched, and the hearts will run.  This squeeze 
is described as “positional” (as opposed to automatic), because the two menaces are 
in the same hand (North) and will only work in this case against the West position, 
the opponent who has to discard before the hand with the menaces.   
     
         (Many thanks to my good friend, Michael Klein, who saw the chance for the 
red-suit squeeze, which I had missed the first time I wrote this article).
Thursday, July 7th, 2005
12:55 am
Weekly bridge column

                                       VIENNA COUP

                                   by Stephen Rzewski


				         North

                                        ♠ A6
                                        ♥ A5
                                        ♦ AQ108
                                        ♣ AKQJ9

                        West                               East

                       ♠ J1092                            ♠ K54
                       ♥ J1086                            ♥ K42
                       ♦ 642                              ♦ J973
                       ♣ 85                               ♣ 1043

                                         South

                                        ♠ Q873
                                        ♥ Q973
                                        ♦ K5
                                        ♣ 762

                       bidding:   N      E      S      W

                                 2♣      P      2♦     P
                                 3♣      P     3NT     P
                                 6NT    (all pass)

                                 opening lead:  ♠ J

	
	In today’s deal, which came up in a local club game on Cape Cod, South found 
himself declaring 6NT on the auction shown.  Since an artificial 3♦ call was 
available to South at his second turn, which would have been a “2nd negative” showing 
a very weak hand, 3NT promised a smattering of high-card values, which North hoped 
was enough to produce twelve tricks.  Alternatively, North could have continued with 
4♦, which might have resulted in playing 6♣ from his side.  Although a shaky 
contract, it is makeable on the lie of the cards by leading up to one of the major-
suit queens, establishing a discard for the other major-suit loser.  The 10 of 
diamonds can be ruffed in dummy.
	
	Playing instead in the notrump slam, South ducked the spade lead in dummy. 
East took his king and returned a spade.  Declarer ran dummy’s five clubs, then led a 
diamond to his king in order to cash the queen of spades.  On this trick, declarer 
discarded dummy’s 5 of hearts, and correspondingly, East held onto all his diamonds 
to keep equal length with dummy and pitched a heart, baring down to the singleton 
king.  The ace of hearts then dropped the king and established South’s queen, but 
declarer had no way to get back to his hand to cash it.  Locked in dummy in the end, 
declarer had to concede a diamond to East to go down one.

	Declarer could have succeeded by playing dummy’s ace of hearts before leading 
a diamond to his king.  The end position would then have been:

				♠ -----
                                ♥ 5
                                ♦ AQ10
                                ♣ -----
                                                ♠ -----
                                                ♥ K
                                                ♦ J97
                                                ♣ -----

                                ♠ Q8
                                ♥ Q
                                ♦ 5
                                ♣ -----

	Declarer plays his queen of spades, discarding dummy’s 5 of hearts, and East 
is squeezed.  If he discards a diamond, dummy’s 4th diamond will become a winner, so 
his best chance is to throw the king of hearts and hope that his partner holds the 
queen and not declarer.  With the lead in his hand, declarer is in position to cash 
the now good queen and then take the two diamond winners.

	The early play of the ace of hearts is known as a “Vienna Coup”.  What one 
essentially does by making this play is establish a winner in a defender’s hand, 
then  squeeze the player out of that winner later in the play.  One curious angle 
about this particular deal is that if West had for some reason decided to lead a 
heart instead of a spade, declarer could make the identical series of plays in 
different suits.  The heart lead would be ducked to East’s king, establishing South’s 
queen.  Then during the middle of the hand, declarer would play the ace of spades 
(Vienna Coup), establishing East’s king, then squeeze him out of that card in the end 
game with the good queen of hearts!
Sunday, July 3rd, 2005
10:53 am
Weekly bridge column

                                       POWER OF 7

                                   by Stephen Rzewski

				        
                                         North

                                        ♠ A9
                                        ♥ AKJ
                                        ♦ QJ73
                                        ♣ K1083

                           West                        East

                          ♠ K863                      ♠ Q1052
                          ♥ 432                       ♥ Q1098
                          ♦ 9865                      ♦ -----
                          ♣ 42                        ♣ QJ976

                                         South

                                        ♠ J74
                                        ♥ 765
                                        ♦ AK1042
                                        ♣ A5

	             
                       bidding:     S      W       N      E                          
                                      
                                   1♦      P       2♦     P
                                   3♦      P       6♦  (all pass)

	                         opening lead:  ♥ 4

	Looking at all four hands in the layout of today’s deal, can you tell which 
card in the South hand provided declarer with the 12th trick he needed to make his 
contract?

	The bidding warrants some explanation.  North’s 2♦ call was an “inverted” 
raise, promising at least four diamonds in support, invitational or better values, 
and was forcing for at least one round. South’s 3♦ call limited his hand, showing 
minimal opening values and probably no stop for notrump in either hearts or spades 
(he would likely have cue-bid 2♥ or 2♠ with such a feature as a probe for notrump, or 
might have rebid 2NT with both majors stopped).  North, with good trumps and a hand 
rich in controls, decided to gamble on the diamond slam.

	South called for dummy’s ace of hearts at trick #1, East signaling positively 
with the 10. The queen of diamonds was played at the second trick, East showing out. 
Declarer had to ruff a spade before drawing all the trumps, so he played dummy’s ace 
of spades, then a low spade, won by West, who played a second heart.  On the surface,
it looks like declarer’s only reasonable chance is to finesse the jack of hearts. 
But South felt sure that East’s encouraging signal at the first trick was honest,
and that West was unlikely to have made the opening lead from the queen against a 
slam.  So he played dummy’s king, hoping that the queen might come down.  When it 
didn’t, declarer could only continue to play the hand out, as follows:  a low diamond 
to the 10, a third spade, ruffed in dummy, then a diamond to the ace and king, 
drawing the last of West’s trumps, leaving:


				

                                   ♠ -----
                                   ♥ J
                                   ♦ -----
                                   ♣ K108

                                                  ♠ -----
                                                  ♥ Q
                                                  ♦ -----
                                                  ♣ QJ9

                                   ♠ -----
                                   ♥ 7
                                   ♦ 2
                                   ♣ A5

	During the play of the trumps, a club was discarded from dummy, and the East 
hand had to sluff down to the queen of hearts and three clubs as shown.  South 
remembered that East had followed hearts first with the 10 and 8, then had discarded 
the 9, leaving the queen as the only outstanding card in the suit higher than his 7. 
So he played his last trump, discarding the jack of hearts from dummy, and East was 
stuck.  To throw a club was suicide, so he discarded the queen of hearts, in the hope 
that his partner held the critical 7-spot.  Unfortunately for him, South held that 
card, and after playing the king and ace of clubs, cashed it for his 12th trick and 
brought in the slam.

		(Thanks to Tony Petronella for providing this deal).
Sunday, June 26th, 2005
10:42 am
Weekly bridge column

                                      SIMPLE SQUEEZE

                                    by Stephen Rzewski
           

	           IMPs	`	          North
                   vul:  both
					 ♠ AK106
					 ♥ A1032
				 	 ♦ 75
					 ♣ Q42
		        West				   East

	  	       ♠ J742				  ♠ 53
                       ♥ 7                                ♥ 94
                       ♦ Q943                             ♦ AJ1082
		       ♣ K1063                            ♣ J975

                                          South

					 ♠ Q98
					 ♥ KQJ865
                                         ♦ K6
                                         ♣ A8

	               bidding:   S          W          N         E

                                  1♥         P          2NT       P
                                  3♥         P          3♠        P
                                  4♣         P          4♠        P
                                  6♥         P           P        P

                                  Opening lead:   ♦3

	Today’s hand occurred in a Swiss team match at the recent Regional tournament 
in Falmouth. Swiss and knockout team events differ significantly in both format and 
method of scoring from the matchpoint pairs games that are typically held at local 
clubs.  In Swiss events, a team of four players plays a series of matches, usually 
seven boards each in length, against other teams.  Scoring is done by a method 
called “IMPs” (short for International Match Points), which gives a weighted 
importance to large differences in the scores that occur on particular hands, 
called “swings”.   Such swings occur when a team bids and makes a game or slam not 
bid or made at the other table, or by making a doubled contract, or by inflicting a 
substantial penalty.

	At one table, N-S reasonably stopped in game on the above hand, but at the 
other, a slam was bid on the auction shown.  North’s 2NT call was “Jacoby 2NT”, which 
showed a game-forcing raise of hearts.  South’s 3♥ bid denied a singleton or void, 
but showed substantial extra values.  The ensuing 3♠ and 4♣ calls promised the ace of 
the suit bid.  At this point, North probably should have signed off in 4♥, but 
elected to bid 4♠.  This call denied the ace of diamonds and promised the king of 
spades, but because the bid goes beyond game, the action really implies more values 
than he holds.  Thus one can not fault South, holding the king of diamonds, for 
bidding the pushy slam.  The contract is decidedly anti-percentage, since it requires
the ace of diamonds to be onside, as well as avoiding the loss of a club trick.

	West led a diamond, the unbid suit, to East’s ace, which solved one problem 
for declarer.  A diamond was continued to South, who drew two rounds of trumps and 
pondered a way of disposing of his club loser.  Other than an improbable singleton 
king of that suit, the obvious place was to try to run four spade tricks.  So South 
played a spade to the ace, then another to his queen, then a third round toward 
dummy.  Both opponents followed all the way with spot cards.  South now paused for a
full minute, trying to decide whether to finesse dummy’s ten or play for the drop of 
the jack by going up with the king.  A lot of IMPs were at stake on this decision.

	I’m actually not going to tell you whether declarer got it right, because the 
point of this hand is that declarer did not have to face this guess.  Suppose that 
instead of playing spades early, declarer played off the ace of clubs and all his 
trumps, ending up in this position:

					♠ AK106
                                        ♥  -----
					♦  -----
	                                ♣ Q
                             ♠ J742                                                 
                             ♥  -----
	                     ♦  -----
                             ♣ K
	                                ♠ Q98
                                        ♥ 5
                                        ♦  -----
                                        ♣ 8

	At this point, South plays his last trump, and West is stuck between the 
proverbial rock and a hard place.  If he discards the king of clubs, dummy’s queen 
will be good, and if he throws a spade instead, the queen of clubs will be pitched,
and the spade suit will run for four tricks without declarer having to make any 
guess.  This play is called a “simple” squeeze:  simple, because it operates against 
one opponent who guards two suits, and who is forced to make a discard which will 
establish a winner for declarer.  The cards which have the potential to become 
winners are referred to as “menaces”:  here they are the 4th spade and the queen of 
clubs.  For the squeeze to be operative when both menaces are in the same hand, the 
opponent guarding the two suits must have to discard before the hand with the menaces.

	Playing the hand in this way gives declarer an extra chance, since if the 
actual position did not exist, declarer would have to make the same play in spades as
before and be no worse off. Curiously, the squeeze will often work even if declarer 
does not understand its mechanics, provided that he defers playing the spades and 
plays off all his winners first, discarding the queen of clubs unless the king 
appears beforehand.  So even if you don’t entirely understand the principle, when you 
have all the remaining tricks but one, play off all your winners before attacking the 
critical suit. Sometimes miracles happen.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2005
11:46 am
Weekly bridge column

				      TRUMP COUP

				  by Stephen  Rzewski

				
		dlr:  South		North
		IMPs	
				       ♠ KJ
				       ♥ KJ10762
				       ♦ QJ4
				       ♣ J10
	                West		 	     East

	               ♠ 842			    ♠ A763
	               ♥ Q983			    ♥ 4
                       ♦ 1062			    ♦ 975
	               ♣ AK8			    ♣ 97632
					South

				       ♠ Q1095
				       ♥ A5
				       ♦ AK83
				       ♣ Q54

		   bidding:      S        W          N         E

			         1NT       P         2♦         P
				 2♥        P         4♥  (all pass)

		                  opening lead:  ♣A

	One of the qualities unique to the trump suit in bridge is that under certain 
circumstances it is possible to take a finesse without actually leading a trump 
card.  This somewhat infrequent play, called a “trump coup”, requires imagination, 
careful planning, entries, favorable distribution, and timing.

	In today’s hand, taken from a Swiss team event in a Sectional tournament, N-S 
were playing Jacoby transfer bids.  North’s 2♦ call promised five or more hearts and 
requested South to bid the suit.  This treatment offers greater bidding flexibility 
than natural methods and sometimes creates an advantage in having the strong hand be 
declarer, although not in this particular case.

	West started with the ace and king of clubs, East playing low-high to suggest 
a switch.  At trick #3, West played a spade to dummy’s king and East’s ace, giving 
the defense their “book”.  East exited with a spade.

	South had to avoid the loss of a trump trick in order to make his contract. 
With five trumps out including the queen, the odds favor taking a finesse as opposed 
to simply playing off the two top honors and hoping for the queen to drop.  South 
could play either opponent for Qxx, but he decided that the percentages favored 
taking the finesse through West, for two reasons:  (1) finessing East would mean 
leading the jack from dummy and passing it on the first lead of the suit, which might 
lose to a possible singleton queen in the West hand, and (2) it might be additionally 
possible to pick up Qxxx in the West hand via a trump coup, as long as West was not 
short in diamonds.  

	So thinking, South won the queen of spades in his hand at trick #4, then used 
the entry to lead the good queen of clubs and ruff that card in dummy.  He then led a 
heart to the ace, followed by a low heart, putting in dummy’s 10.  When East showed 
out, South’s foresight was about to be rewarded.  He next led a diamond to the ace, 
then a third spade, again ruffing a good card in dummy and reducing dummy’s trumps to 
K-J, the same length as West’s Q-x.  Then a diamond was played to the king.  As long 
as West had to follow to this trick, South was home, in the following position:

			        	♠ ---
				        ♥ KJ
				        ♦ Q
				        ♣ ---
		       ♠ ---
		       ♥ Q9
		       ♦ 10
		       ♣ ---
		 		       ♠ 10
				       ♥ ---
				       ♦ 83
				       ♣ ---

	South did not have a trump card to lead from his hand, but it did not 
matter.  He led the good 10 of spades.  If West ruffed, dummy would overruff and draw 
his last trump; so West discarded his diamond.  South countered by also discarding 
dummy’s queen of diamonds.   With the lead still in the South hand at trick #12, West
had to play a trump before dummy, and the K-J took the last two tricks.

	To execute this play, one has to reduce the trumps in the long hand until the 
length matches that of the defender.  This requires sufficient entries to the 
opposite hand, and sometimes cards that would normally win tricks themselves have to 
be ruffed.  Finally, the sequence of plays requires that the lead come through the 
defender’s trump holding at the right moment, when that hand has been reduced to 
nothing but trumps.  In this case, the lead must come from the South hand at the 
penultimate trick.
Monday, June 13th, 2005
9:29 pm
Weekly bridge column

				       CROCODILE COUP

				      by Stephen Rzewski

	     vul:  N-S
	     dlr:   S
	     matchpoints
                 			  North

					  ♠ 73
				          ♥ 8543
					  ♦ KJ83
					  ♣ 982
		        West				  East

		       ♠ KJ96 			         ♠ Q10
		       ♥ J10			         ♥ A972
		       ♦ Q95			 	 ♦ 7
		       ♣ AJ103			         ♣ KQ7654
		 			  South

				          ♠ A8542
					  ♥ KQ6
					  ♦ A10642
					  ♣  ----

                  bidding:    S          W          N          E

                              1♠         P          P          2♣
                              2♦         3♣         3♦   (all pass)

		opening lead:   ♥J


	In today’s hand, from a recent session at the Puritan Club in Braintree, 
E-W missed the optimal boat when they failed to bid on to 4C, which they might 
have been allowed to play.   Only a few pairs did so, however, so they could 
still recover a reasonable number of matchpoints if they could defeat the N-S 
contract.

	The heart lead was taken by East, who switched to a club, declarer 
ruffing.  South was a believer in “getting the kids off the street” quickly,
so she drew trump by playing off the ace and king of diamonds.   She then led 
to her ace of spades, followed by a low spade from her hand, in the following 
position:

				      ♠ 7
				      ♥ 854
                                      ♦ J8
				      ♣ 98
			   ♠ KJ9		     ♠ Q
			   ♥10			     ♥ 972
		           ♦ Q                       ♦ -----
			   ♣ AJ10                    ♣ Q765
				      ♠ 8542
				      ♥ KQ
				      ♦ 106
				      ♣ -----

	West had to be on his toes when South led a spade from her hand at 
this point.  If he inattentively follows with the 9, East will win the queen. 
Whether East returns a heart or a club, South has sufficient entries to her 
hand to ruff two spades in dummy and establish the 5th spade.  West can ruff 
in at some point with the high trump, but declarer will end up with ten tricks.

	West, however, was paying attention.  He saw his partner play the ten
of spades on the first lead of the suit, and figured that South had no reason 
not to finesse the queen of spades had she held that card.  So he opened his 
jaws wide to play the king and swallow his partner’s queen.  This particular 
play is colorfully referred to as the “crocodile coup”.   He was now able to 
draw some trumps himself with the queen of diamonds, then tap declarer out of
trump in her hand with another club.  South could take her two high hearts and
the last trump in dummy, but that was it.  Down one.

	Of course, South could have made those ten tricks by the simple 
expedient play of ducking a spade before playing the ace and king of diamonds.
Thursday, June 9th, 2005
1:25 pm
Weekly bridge column

(Note:  today's hand is on a more basic/intermediate level than most of the articles 
presented on this site)


                                  THIS IS A HOLD-UP

                                  by Stephen Rzewski

		
			               North

                                      ♠ J7
                                      ♥ K64
                                      ♦ KQJ42
                                      ♣ 532

		         West                      East
                         
                        ♠ K9854                   ♠ Q103
                        ♥ 9872                    ♥ A103
                        ♦ 85                      ♦ A96
                        ♣ 76                      ♣ J1098

                                       South

                                      ♠ A62 
                                      ♥ QJ5
                                      ♦ 1073
                                      ♣ AKQ4

                     bidding:     S       W          N          E

                                 1NT      P         3NT   (all pass)

                                opening lead:  ♠ 5


	A hold-up in bridge is a deliberate refusal of a player to win immediately a 
trick in a suit being attacked by the opponents.  The usual intent behind the play is 
to attempt to exhaust one of the opponents’ hands of all cards in that suit, thus 
breaking or limiting communication between the two enemy hands later in the play.  

	In today’s hand, South called for dummy’s jack of spades at first play with 
the hope that West had led from a holding including the king and queen.  When East 
covered, South’s chances dimmed considerably.  Normally, when the opponents attack 
your weakest suit against a notrump contract, one hopes for an even (4-4) division, 
which would translate into fewer potential winners for the defense. However, with two 
aces outstanding, that would mean South would be set automatically, since the defense 
would always take those two tricks plus three established spades.  So South had to 
assume that the spades would divide unevenly, and that the hand with the greater 
length would have neither of the red aces, thus not being able to obtain the lead and 
cash the long spades.  Not a great chance, but better than none.

	So South “held up” his ace of spades on the first trick, and did so again 
when East continued the suit.  When South finally won the ace on the third trick, 
East was now out of spades.  When East regained the lead later in the play, he would 
be unable to lead a spade to his partner, and as long as West did not have a red ace,
the long spades may die on the vine.

	Declarer started about the business of establishing his red-suit winners and 
led a diamond. Now it is the defense’s turn to apply the same principle.  In order to 
deprive declarer of at least some of the tricks that dummy might produce, East must 
hold up his ace of diamonds.  It is essential that he win the ace at the precise 
moment when South plays his last diamond.   West, at this point feeling cut off and 
having little interest in the remaining play, might be tempted to lean back in his
chair and take a short nap.  He has, however, an important task to contribute to the 
defense:  he must give honest count in the diamond suit by playing first the 8, then 
the 5, thus informing his partner that he holds an even number of cards in the suit. 
East will then know that South started with three diamonds and will hold up the ace 
until the third round.  On another day, if West held three diamonds, he should first 
play low, then high, to show an odd number.  In that event, East would know declarer 
held a doubleton and would win the second round.

	After winning the third diamond, East exits with the jack of clubs.  South 
must continue to assume that East has the ace of hearts, lest West get in to cash the 
spades.  The bad news in that case is that East will hold the ace over dummy’s king,
the only card that can give declarer access to dummy’s diamonds.  So South tries to 
create an entry to dummy by leading the queen of hearts from his hand.  East should 
understand what declarer is up to and, once again, must exercise patience by holding 
up his ace of hearts.  When South continues with the jack of hearts, East must hold 
up again.  With nothing else to try, South leads the rest of his top clubs, hoping 
for a 3-3 split.  No such luck, down one. This would be a normal result for this 
hand, if both sides have played optimally.

	Although hold-up plays pertain most often to notrump, occasionally the 
opportunity for such plays may occur in suited contracts.  For example, say a 
defender, having overcalled during the auction, leads the king of that suit in which 
you the declarer hold A-x-x opposite dummy’s x-x-x.  If you can be reasonably sure 
that your right-hand opponent has a doubleton, it may be good strategy to hold up the 
ace on the first round and win the second.  If you can then control the play such 
that only RHO gains the lead, that defender may be out of that particular suit and 
unable to lead one to his partner.  Thus, it may be possible to prevent the defenders 
from cashing their second winner in the suit.
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