Bridge Over the Summer
I played a lot of bridge this summer, in Hong Kong as well as in Macau and Thailand. There were many interesting and fun deals which I could report.
One such hand was holding
- first seat both vul. I opened 6
and it went pass pass double. Partner came down with nothing... except 2 trumps and a singleton spade! The opponents were actually cold for 6
. One story I heard about this hand was that a Hong Kong player balanced with 6
Axxx after his LHO opened 6
in first seat.
The following deal, however, is the one I remember most from the summer.
I was declarer with the bottom hand in the pretty hopeless contract of 6. It got a little better after the opening lead of the 4 (the 3 is the only missing lower spade). I ducked this in dummy and RHO won with the A. Now RHO shifted to a small heart.
Here was the first decision. The first option is to run the heart to dummy, and if it wins, you will make it if diamonds are 3-3 or if there's a spade-diamond squeeze. The second option is to hop up with the A and play for diamonds to be 3-3 followed by a spade-heart squeeze. It basically comes down to, is the K onside?
By some feel of table presence, or just sheer luck, I ran it to dummy and I won the trick. I next followed with four rounds of trumps (they were 2-2), and a heart back to my hand. The way the opponents have discarded, it seems fairly certain that LHO started with 4 hearts. Now what? Here was the position:
Another decision to be made. I saw that I could pull a simple Vienna Coup by crossing to dummy with a diamond honor and cashing the K, getting back to my hand with the K to play the last trump as the squeeze card against LHO. Another line of play I saw was to run the J, hoping to pin the T in RHO's hand. Let's start by counting out the hand. Assuming LHO has 4 hearts and 2 clubs, if he has 4 spades the diamonds are breaking. If he has 3 spades then I can squeeze him with the Vienna Coup. If he has 5 spades (the opponents were playing 4th best leads and the 3 was still missing) then I need to pin the T. Which was more likely? Well, if RHO did have ATxx or Axxx, then he could have defeated me by playing low to the first trick, as the count will not be rectified. If RHO began with AT, then he must play the A. So in the end, I played to pin the T and went down when LHO did start with 3 spades. RHO made a big mistake in hopping up with the A, but I didn't make him pay for it.
Only when I looked at the hand again later that night did I realize the correct solution. Because we know the Q is with West, there was no need for a Vienna Coup in the above position. There would have been a positional squeeze against West anyway. Therefore, the way to play the hand is to cash 3 rounds of diamonds ending in hand. If they break, you're home. If LHO shows up with 4 diamonds, then you know you have him squeezed by playing the last trump as he must discard before dummy. If LHO shows up with 2 diamonds, there is no squeeze and the only hope is to pin the T (much more likely since now LHO probably has 5 spades).