Ray Lee

Testimony from a non-material witness

Watching the CNTC final yesterday, I saw a fascinating deal that reminded me of one I had seen recently, in Peter Winkler’s soon-to-be-published book Bridge at the Enigma Club. While Peter’s primary purpose in writing this book is to promulgate his ideas on encrypted signalling and bidding, as well as his relay methods, he’s put together an impressive and entertaining set of deals for the casual reader.  In the one that I was thinking of, declarer needs to find the Q , and knows that South started with either 4-0 or 0-4 in the majors.  He manages to bring the hand down to a 3-card ending before making his guess, thereby forcing a major-suit discard out of South, revealing the entire distribution.  Effectively, this is a non-material squeeze for information.  Keep that idea in mind as you watch what happens on this deal from the CNTC:

Dealer: E

Vul: Neither

A J 10 8 6 2
K 3
A 6 2
Q 2
West East
7 5 9
Q 8 6 4 2 J 10 9 5
9 5 4 3 Q 8
J 4 A K 9 8 5 3
K Q 4 3
A 7
K J 10 7
10 7 6

In the Open Room, Dan Korbel opened 1 , after which North-South bid unimpeded to 4 .  The play was not very interesting, and declarer scored up 11 tricks.  Not so in the Closed Room, where Judy Gartaganis opened the East hand with a Precision 2 .  Husband Nick found a tactical 2 response and Keith Balcombe came in with 2.  Judy, who had every right to expect more than a 3-count opposite, cuebid 3 , and Ross Taylor raised his partner to game. Nick was done now of course, but Judy was not — she pressed on to 5.  Ross persevered to 5 , and everyone finally had had enough.

The defense started with three rounds of clubs, ruffed by West and overruffed by declarer. He drew trumps, cashed his two hearts, and paused to take stock.  East was known to have one spade, and probably ten rounded-suit cards.  Surely for an opening bid and a cuebid she had at least another queen.  On the other hand, she could have the Q, and West was known to have the diamond length.  Eventually, declarer finessed into East, conceding a game swing.

Full marks to East-West for pushing their opponents to the five-level, but I think Keith missed an important extra chance here.  Remember the story from Winkler’s book I started with?  Well, if declarer runs all his spades, what three cards does West come down to?  Obviously he must keep three diamonds, or the jig is up.  So he’s going to have to part with the Q.  Surely now, having seen that card, declarer is going to play diamonds correctly?

It’s an idea I don’t think I’d seen before reading Peter’s manuscript, but obviously it’s one to watch out for at the table — and one that can pay off big-time!


Ross TaylorJune 6th, 2010 at 4:40 am

Cool point Ray. Poor Keith should never have been in that situation. I should have bid 4H, rather than 4S and set up a forcing pass. Then when judy bids 5H I can pass around the decision to Keith who will double and we will collect a decent number.

I should have asked what the 3S bid meant. I assumed it was a big hand (Like long strong clubs and great heart fit etc. ) but apparently it just showed a stiff spade.

Without knowing this I was not sure I even wanted to set up a forcing pass – but that was wrong thinking – just bid my hand and whatever happens happens.

DarrenJune 7th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Really nice post Ray. You don’t usually think of squeezes that force your opponents to expose their high cards in order to place the remaining high cards. Thanks.

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