Six trumps are enough for game

By Svend Novrup

For a long time eight trumps were considered to be necessary for a suit contract. Then Alfonse Moyse pointed out the advantages of the 4-3 fit, since then called "the Moysian fit", but later years have seen pairs playing successfully in 4-2 or 3-3 fits, even with a 4-2-fit at grand slam level. Some years ago the Danish Blakset brothers redoubled a lead directing double of 3¨ with 3-3 in the suit, making 10 tricks and a load of IMPs in the Cap Gemini tournament in the Netherlands, and probably Anton Maas was present on that occasion. In any case he decided to play 4ª on Board 6 in the match against Croatia in Round 29 knowing that it was on a 3-3 fit.

Board 6. Dealer East. E/W Vul.
  ª 9 6 5
© J 8 5 2
¨ J 8
§ K Q 7 4
ª A K 10
© K 9 3
¨ K Q 10 7
§ A 9 3
Bridge deal ª J 4 2
© 7
¨ A 5 4
§ J 10 8 6 5 2
  ª Q 8 7 3
© A Q 10 6 4
¨ 9 6 3 2
§ -

Maas -- preferring the 3-3 trump suit successfully

West North East South
Ramondt   Maas  
    Pass Pass
1¨ Pass 1ª 2ª
Dble 3ª Pass Pass
Dble Pass 4§ Pass
4ª All pass    

I almost never bid a three card suit but I thought that if it ever could be right, it was here, Anton Maas tells. Partner's double of 2ª was a support double showing exactly three spades with an honour. His next double was competitive, and when he removed from clubs to spades I decided to try out my luck there as I did not know about his club fit.

South cashed ©A and continued with ©Q which I ruffed. To my surprise the contract was not completely hopeless. The ªQ had to be right, and the player with four spades would need to have four diamonds as well -- and I needed a trick for §A. I played a low club from my hand. If South ruffs I make my contract so he correctly decided to discard but chose the wrong card when he let go a heart instead of a diamond. I won §A, discarded a diamond on ©K and continued with ace, king, and queen of diamonds. North ruffed the queen but I overruffed with my ªJ, finessed the ª10, cashed ªAK and my fourth diamond 10 tricks.

We gained 1 IMP on the board as our opponents played in 3NT just making but we might have had a game swing as the best contract probably is 5§ - until you see the location of the club honours.

Maas has another board he wants to discuss. This one from the local derby against Belgium. It was discussed on in another bulletin but Maas looks at it from an entirely different angle:

Dealer East. N/S
  ª K Q J 5 4
© Q 10
¨ Q J 3
§ J 7 2
ª -
© A J 9 5 4 3
¨ A K 9 8 7
§ K Q
Bridge deal ª A 8 3 2
© K 2
¨ 10 5
§ 10 9 8 6 3
  ª 10 9 7 6
© 8 7 6
¨ 6 4 2
§ A 5 4

West North East South
Engel Maas van Middelem Ramondt
1© 1ª Pass 2ª
Dble Pass 3© Pass
6¨ Pass 6© All Pass

I led ªK, declarer won with dummy's ace and discarded §Q from his hand. I felt sick. I could see that diamonds were 3-3, and my ©Q would come down as declarer wouldn't even have any choice. I was absolutely right. About 10 seconds later it was all over, and Zvi Engel had landed his bad contract on the lucky lay-out.

The hand is, however, very interesting from a psychological point of view, and it will remind you of the famous hand from the Bermuda Bowl when Eddie Kantar held the doubleton king of clubs to be finessed with AQ doubleton in dummy. He felt just as sick and did not take the time to find the way to lead declarer astray by playing the king on the first round. You have to think quite differently: Declarer is in a lousy contract. How can we make him go down?

Only when you do that you find that you have to unblock ¨QJ under ¨AK so Declarer does not need to ruff a diamond. Now he has a possibility to finesse in hearts, and seeing your ©10 on the first round of the suit, he will almost certainly do so. You might even consider playing ©Q on the first round but then you risk that you partner has ©9! No, the ten will do (you will play that from ©10x, too), and at least Declarer has a losing option. (We pointed this out in the previous article. Editor)

Declarer had only one road to success so he did his best by playing quickly, making it more difficult to think of tricks. The point of the hand is that I misdefended because I did the wrong thinking , just like Kantar. A very important part of top bridge, I think.

The Really Largest Seniors Swing

By Justin Hackett

When Nissan Rand reported a major swing in the Senior event he was talking chicken feed. (Sorry Nissan!) Take a look at this effort by the team I captain, England 1:

Board 13. Dealer North. All Vul.
  ª A 9 2
© K 8 7 3 2
¨ 10
§ Q 9 6 3
ª K 8 7 5 4
© A 10
¨ 4 2
§ J 8 5 2
Bridge deal ª Q J 10 6
© 9
¨ K Q J 5
§ A K 10 7
  ª 3
© Q J 6 5 4
¨ A 9 8 7 6 3
§ 4

West North East South
  Hackett   Harper
  Pass 1§* 2NT*
3ª Pass 4ª 5¨
Dble 5© Dble Pass
Pass 6§ Dble All Pass

After East's better minor opening the North/South bidding left a lot to be desired. North was not sure which two suits his partner held and Six Clubs went eight down, -2300.

West North East South
  Goldenfield   Hirst
  Pass 1¨ 1©
1ª 2¨* 4ª 5©
Dble All Pass    

Declarer had no trouble collecting +850 for an easy 22 IMPs.
Any advance on that?

Who is this man?

By Svend Novrup

When I saw him coming down the aisle of the aeroplane in Madrid, I was in no doubt. This is Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie's Belgian detective who has solved so many cases by means of his little grey cells.
I know that Poirot is a fictional character but if I ever hear of a film instructor who wants to shoot a Poirot novel, I will tell him to turn to Brendan J O'Brien of the Irish national bridge team. Being a top bridge player he will be able to think like a Poirot. He doesn't even have act.
How does my Poirot play? Well, take this hand from the match against Slovenia in Round 30. Mike MacDonagh/O'Brien sitting North/South. What a deadly combination!

Dealer South. All Vul.
  ª K 8 3 2
© -
¨ A J 8 6 5 4
§ A 3 2
ª Q 10 6
© A
¨ K 9 7 3
§ Q J 9 8 6
Bridge deal ª 7 5 4
© K Q J 9 5 3 2
¨ Q 2
§ 4
  ª A J 9
© 10 8 7 6 4
¨ 10
§ K 10 7 5

West North East South
1¨ Pass 4© Pass
Pass Dble All Pass  

Poirot led his singleton diamond to the ace, and back came ¨4 as Lavinthal for clubs. South ruffed, switched to §5 for the ace, and back came another diamond, ruffed by declarer with the ©J. A heart to the ace was followed by the ¨K, discarding a spade. South ruffed, cashed ªA, continued spades to the king and got another diamond from partner, which promoted yet another trump trick for him. With three black top tricks, the ace of diamonds and three(!) trump tricks, the contract went four down for 1100 to the Irish side.
And the other table? Well, North/South stayed passive over 4© - in two ways. They did not double - and they only made five tricks for down two and 200 to Slovenia; 14 IMPs making Irish hearts happy.