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Board of the Day

Board of the Day

By In 44th World Bridge Teams Championships On 22nd September 2019


When I asked Herman to check the frequencies on board 23 of Round 20, I was surprised at the answer. What looked like a difficult declarer problem, had been solved by over half of the field. Perhaps it was more of a defensive problem.

Getting North to be declarer in 4Picche. Over the 96 tables of the four championships, 62 North players became declarers in 4Picche. A further 4 played 4Picche doubled, while one table managed to reach 4Picche redoubled. Two pairs went slightly overboard in 5Picche, one pair even attempted 6Picche (doubled, of course). So a total of 70 North players were playing in spades.

Eight declarers were faced with the problem of making 4Picche from the South hand. An extra South had to contend with playing 6Picche, strangely left undoubled.

Eight pairs found their spade fit unsatisfactory, and ended up playing 3NT, twice from the South side and six times from North.
This was, for example, what happened to the Chinese Open pair:

Some East/West pairs could not contain themselves from entering the bidding. Only two pair managed a more or less satisfactory defence, in 2Quadri or 3Quadri doubled (going for 800 and 1100 respectively). This was the bidding in India – England seniors.

(the deal was a push in the match, actually, as the other table got their 4Picche doubled, scoring 790)

Others ended up in clubs. One player essayed 3Fiorix from West (ending up at -1700), six from the East side. A total of nine contracts for EW.

This was the bidding in Netherlands – Chinese Taipei (Seniors)

An auction with South becoming declarer in the same contract was:

How would you play 4Picche on the lead of the CuoriK, East following with the Cuori2, encouraging.
If you decide to duck, West continues with the CuoriQ, East playing the four.
Short of entries to hand, it would now be a mistake to play a spade – you must continue with the QuadriJ, covered by the king and ace. Now it looks as if you are well placed and can hope to lose just two spades. However, when you cash dummy’s PiccheA West discards the Quadri5. When you continue with the PiccheQ, East wins and returns the Cuori8. You win with dummy’s jack, cash the QuadriQ, overtake the FioriK, discard a diamond on the FioriQ and ruff a club to reach this position:

When you exit with a diamond East has to ruff and lead into dummy’s trump tenace.
When 4Picche was played by North it was generally made when East led the Quadri10, but it is a much tougher proposition if East leads a heart.

One way to go down is to duck the initial lead, when West will probably switch to a diamond. Declarer wins in hand with the jack and plays a spade, West pitching a club. If declarer puts in dummy’s queen (which sort of feels right) East wins and plays a heart. Declarer wins with the ace, cashes two clubs pitching a heart, plays a diamond to the queen and a diamond, but East ruffs and plays a heart and declarer must lose another trick for one down.
Let’s see how 4Picche should be played courtesy of Eric Rodwell:

East led the Cuori2 and West won with the queen and switched to the Quadri5. Declarer won with dummy’s jack and played a spade. When West discarded a club Rodwell found the winning line when he put up the ace. He unblocked the FioriK, crossed to dummy with a heart and pitched a heart and a diamond on the top clubs, before ruffing a heart. Down to PiccheQJ9 QuadriAQ he was sure enough of the position to claim ten tricks.
He was the only declarer who played from North and received a heart lead to make 4Picche.

This was the full deal:


About the Author

Mark Horton

Mark Horton British journalist and expert player, was Editor of Bridge Magazine 1995-2017 and now edits the free online publication A New Bridge Magazine. 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 to contact him. He currently lives in Shrewsbury with his wife Liz.