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Olympic Preview

  by Richard Pavlicek

The upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City hardly suggests bridge in any way, shape or form. But wait! Bridge is now a sport (I disagree completely with this logic) and apparently it is a winter sport — is this because people often go down in ice-cold contracts? In any event, bridge teams from 10 countries will meet in Salt Lake for an exhibition match, hoping that bridge will soon become an official medal competition.

This deal is from the bridge exhibition at the previous Winter Olympics (1998) in Lausanne, Switzerland. Amazingly, the final match between China and Brazil ended in an exact tie (167-167 IMPs).

West dealsS 10 3WestNorthEastSouth
E-W vulH A 8 4PassPassPass1 C
D K J 7 3Pass1 DPass2 NT
C Q J 10 4Pass3 NTPassPass
S K Q J 7 6TableS 9 5 4 2Pass
H 9 7H K 6 5 2
D 10 9 8 6D Q 5
C 6 2C 9 5 3
S A 8
H Q J 10 3
D A 4 2
3 NT SouthC A K 8 7

The Chinese declarer played flawlessly to combine his chances: He won the second spade, ran the clubs, then cashed the D K and D A — bingo! If the D Q did not drop, he would be obliged to try the heart finesse. As it happened he won 10 tricks because West pitched a diamond on the run of the clubs.

At the other table, Brazil also played 3 NT but from the North side, and East did not lead a spade (would you?). Declarer won the friendly heart lead and returned the suit, losing to the king. When East belatedly shifted to spades, declarer faced his hand and claimed 10 tricks. This was accepted, but note that declarer really has 11 tricks with the D Q falling and can actually make 12 on a squeeze.

The price for being careless? A push board! Imagine the sleepless nights when one measly IMP would have won the match.

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© 2002 Richard Pavlicek