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The Only Way

By In 46th World Bridge Teams Championships On 24th August 2023

Article by Barnet Shenkin

You may sometimes be rewarded for watching a match right to the end. Here is the final deal from the R12 encounter between Switzerland and Netherlands in the Bermuda Bowl.

The CuoriJ was led to the queen and both declarers cashed the CuoriA and ruffed a heart, West pitching a diamond. The contract can no longer be made. This did not look right to me, and I examined the board with the following results:
In the BB 14 declarers went down and only1 made the contract – that was Warren Spector who played undoubled. For USA1. In the Venice Cup, 2 declarers were successful and 9 went down. In the d’Orsi 2 declarers made the contract and 7 went down. In the Wuhan 5 declarers made the contract and 5 went down. Interesting – while there are only play records from VuGraph, the only sure winning line is to play a diamond at trick 2 (or 3. Editor) and finesse the queen. Now cash the QuadriA and ruff a diamond and West cannot prevent declarer from making 10 tricks either by ruffing hearts in dummy or setting up dummy’s diamonds. If declarer does not take the diamond finesse but instead ruffs a diamond West can gain the upper hand in the end game by ruffing in with the J at the right time- when declarer either ruffs his second diamond or is trying to ruff his second heart in dummy.

Declarer is in dummy after making 5 tricks. If he ruffs a diamond with the Picche6 West overruffs cashes one high trump then plays a club. South can ruff one heart but still has a heart loser. If he comes off dummy with a club and plays a heart, West ruffs in with the jack, plays 2 high trumps and a club with same result. So, the only genuine winning play is to take a diamond finesse.

(If West’s spades were PiccheAKJ8 declarer would have to ruff the third diamond with the Picche10 or PiccheQ – and that also works on the actual layout, as declarer will be able to ruff two hearts in dummy and eventually score a trick with the Picche7. Editor)

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