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By In 1st IMSA World Masters Championships On 15th May 2019

When the final deal of the round robin settled on the table in the match between Sweden and England, the situation was clear – Sweden needed a swing.

East led the Cuori10 and declarer won with the jack and played a club for the six, jack and ace, West returning the Picche8 for the king and ace, East continuing with the PiccheJ. Declarer won with the queen and played a diamond for the queen and ace. West exited with the Quadri5 and declarer put up the ten and cashed three hearts. That forced West down to QuadriJ6 Fiori104 and declarer could cash the FioriK and exit with a club, forcing West to lead a diamond into declarer’s QuadriK8 – a Stepping Stone squeeze no less.
If East ducks the PiccheK declarer would play a diamond to the queen. It would be superhuman of West to duck that, but even if she does, she must then take the QuadriA on the second round of the suit and switch to a low club.
Maybe Alpha Zero could find that defence, but I certainly couldn’t – had Sweden stepped into the final?

West led the Quadri6 and declarer won with the nine and played back the queen, West winning and switching to the Picche8, covered by the king and ducked by East. The Fiori8 was covered in turn by the queen, king and ace and East won the spade switch with the seven and exited with the Cuori9. Declarer could now have secured an overtrick by following declarer’s line at the other table. However, there may be something wrong with the play record, as declarer is credited with ten tricks, +180 – and 6 IMPs to Sweden that saw them into the Final by 0.16 of an IMP.

About the Author

Mark Horton
Mark Horton

Mark Horton British journalist and expert player, was Editor of Bridge Magazine 1995-2017 and now edits the online publication Bridgerama+. At one time, his business cards were inscribed: Have Cards will Travel, but following the death of his most famous sponsor, the Rabbi Leonard Helman, he has tended to concentrate on his writing exploits (in 2018 he had five books published!). Anyone wanting to discover how to lose at bridge on a regular basis (and pay for the privilege) should feel free to contact him. He currently lives in Shrewsbury with his wife Liz.