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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

An unexpected recovery

Imagine you are sitting in your favourite Thai restaurant enjoying a spicy, flavourful curry. Suddenly you are ambushed by an explosive chili and your mouth is on fire. You lose all hope that your taste buds will ever live again. But, gradually (with the aid of a large bottle of Singha) you begin to recover. More than that, you discover that you have gained from it all—the food actually tastes better after the ordeal. It is the same with bridge.
For most players, me included, squeezes are difficult to even think of, let alone play for. However, sometimes you are lucky enough to fall into them. When they work, the results seem almost miraculous, resurrecting apparently dead contracts and making certain tricks disappear! This hand was dealt at a table where I was playing, with dealer North and all vulnerable:

  S: AK95  
  H: K9765  
  D: J6  
  C: 42  
S: 84   S: QJ1063
H: 43   H: AQJ108
D: 97   D: 52
C: J1087653   C: 9
  S: 72  
  H: 2  
  D: AKQ10843  
  C: AKQ  

What do you think the contract should be? 6N played by North or 6D by South both work. Both contracts score seven diamond tricks, three clubs and two spades, losing only the heart ace. But this was the bidding:

North East South West
1H 1S 2D P
2N P 4N P
5D P 6N P
P Dbl 7D P
P Dbl All pass

In response to 4N (Blackwood), North bid 5D, which shows one ace. South therefore placed the contract in 6N, to make North declarer and thus protect North’s spade stopper from a lead coming through it. East doubled, expecting that North would have to try and make at least one trick from his bid suit, and relying on his heart stack. The double sounded confident to South (even though this confidence was actually misplaced), and he feared that East had running top tricks, possibly in hearts. Consequently, he pulled to 7D, in spite of the missing ace, in order to limit possible losses and to put West on lead, in the hope that he might lead the wrong suit (whatever that might be!)
West now had to choose a lead. East’s double was not Lightner (asking for an unusual lead) because the grand slam was not freely bid. Also, the double of 6N was certainly not Lightner, because the doubler would have been on lead. Consequently, West led his partner’s suit, spades. After that lead, would you prefer to be declarer or defence?
It looks like the contract is dead—the heart ace must score for the defence. In fact however, the contract is now cold, with likely defence. Watch the heart ace go away! Declarer won the lead in dummy, ran all the trumps and then ran clubs. The key is that he knew, from the bidding, that East held the missing high cards. West kept his only cards of apparent value, the clubs (would you be clever enough to keep the lowly four of hearts—I don’t think I would!). Dummy discarded one spade and all his low hearts. This was the situation as the club queen was led:

  S: A9  
  H: K  
  D: -  
  C: -  
S: -   S: QJ
H: -   H: A
D: -   D: -
C: J108   C: -
  S: 7  
  H: 2  
  D: -  
  C: Q (led)  

West followed suit and dummy threw the heart king, but what is East to do? He has a choice of ways to commit suicide. At the table, he threw the spade jack. Declarer then led to the spade king and took the last trick with the nine. It would have been more spectacular if East had thrown the heart ace. Declarer then leads his singleton heart, and takes the critical trick with a two, on the very first round of the suit! Doubled grand slam made and South, writing plus 2380 on the score pad, felt much better for his ordeal.
I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands—please do contact me at b[email protected] Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes all players. We have members from seventeen different countries already. For information on the Club go to the web site

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An unexpected recovery