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Intergalactic Bridge

by Richard Pavlicek

This deal was played in Sector 9 of the Intergalactic Team Trials aboard the starship Remulus. Yesterday I was able to download the bidding and play records from the Extranet, which means the event occurred 2.6 million years ago (if my light-speed math is correct). I plan to upload a copy of this article, so in another 2.6 million years the participants can appreciate their press coverage on Earth; and in 5.2 million years I may even get a thank-you note.

Their bidding was completely standard. West’s 2 opening showed any suit but spades, and North’s double was Octavian, a variation of Septurian popular in Andromeda. South bid his highest ranked suit, and North’s jump to 6  was Koplatnik to ask South to choose among 6 , 6 NT and 7 . South used excellent judgment to choose the small slam in spades.

 Board 8None Vul A K 9 8 A J A K 5 4 A K 5 WEST2 PassAll Pass NorthDbl6 EastPassPass South3 6 2 Q 10 8 7 6 5 Q 2 Q 10 9 8 J 10 4 3 9 10 9 8 7 6 4 3 2 6 SouthLead: 2 Q 7 6 5 K 4 3 2 J 3 J 7 6

West led his singleton trump. This would not be the choice of terrestrial experts, but we must respect their advanced civilization. A footnote in the play records explained that leading a singleton trump is 2.7 percent better than leading from a queen. So be it.

Put yourself in the South seat and see if you can make this slam looking at all four hands. It is unlikely you will, however, because our knowledge is so limited compared to the universal norm. But, give it a try.

Solution

Declarer began with a routine holdup, playing the 8 from dummy and allowing East to win the trick with his 10. This may seem unusual to us, but it was ordinary technique by galactic principles. Indeed, the holdup is necessary, as winning the first trick leaves no successful path to make the contract.

At trick two East shifted to his singleton heart; low, low, ace. Many of us would have won the trick cheaply with jack, but we need to understand that the finesse is only a primitive tool. Real card players scoff at the maneuver. Ask any Galactic Master how to play A-Q opposite x-x and the answer would be, “What’s the problem? Low to the ace.”

Declarer next won a second trump with the queen, then cashed both top diamonds and ruffed a diamond. Dummy was entered with a club, and the last diamond was ruffed in hand. A club to dummy left the following four-card ending:

 win all A K J — 5 — Q 10 8 — Q J 4 — 10 4 North leads — K 4 3 — J

As the remaining trumps were drawn, South pitched a heart and a club. West was squeezed! He could not protect both hearts and clubs. Note that the 5 would be good if West threw the Q.

Key Pointers

Boost your bridge game into the next millennium! You, too, can be a Galactic Master just by following a few simple rules:

Always use the holdup play.
Never take a finesse.

Should you ever fail in a contract where a finesse would have worked, you would find great sympathy in Andromeda. On Earth, however, all you can offer is, “Unlucky, partner. The king was onside.”

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