Janet de Botton

Bridge | 15 August 2020

Bridge | 15 August 2020
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I am frankly repulsed by the latest cheats, exposed after the online invitational Alt and OCBL tournaments. When F2F bridge became impossible, a few innovative bridge organisers came up with a sensational alternative that enabled world-class players to compete against each other online and the rest of the (bridge) world to watch and learn from their play. Sadly too tempting for Michal Nowosadzki and Sylvia Shi, respectively Polish and American World Champions, who, when investigated and confronted, ‘voluntarily confessed’ to self-kibitzing (seeing all four hands by logging on with two devices) throughout. Of course kibitzing was instantly banned (as were they), ruining the fun for thousands and making everyone else’s results and efforts meaningless.

Imagine playing today’s grandslam double dummy (see diagram).

After South opened 1♣ and reversed into 2◆, there was no stopping North, who propelled the partnership into 7♣. West led a small trump. There are several ways to play this hand. Declarer can play for ♥Q, J onside — a 25 per cent chance. With three strong trumps in dummy and the fact that he can ruff Spades in hand, a dummy reversal could be better? Or he could finesse in Diamonds, only needing one card right. South wins the trump and then plays the ♠Ace and ruffs three Spades in hand using one trump and A,K of Hearts as entries, draws the last trump in dummy and tries the Diamond finesse. That should work if trumps are 3–2 and the ◆Q is onside, altogether a 34 per cent chance. However, without any more entries to dummy, Declarer is only able to take one finesse in Diamonds, and so will need the Queen to be short. The correct way to play the hand — and congratulations if you found it — is to win the lead in dummy and finesse in Diamonds straight away. So much easier double dummy!