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Reverse Geometry

In elementary geometry, we are taught that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Then along comes the Theory of Relativity to prove this wrong and boggle our minds forever. And so it goes with bridge: In basic technique, we are taught to attack suits that will benefit our side; then we find there are times when a devious approach is the only hope to succeed.

On this deal South reached an aggressive 4 S. Two notrump was an artificial game try (asking), and North elected to show values in diamonds (showing heart values would have worked better) which caused South to be optimistic. West led a low trump.

None Vul
S A 9 8 7
H K J 4
D K J
C 10 6 5 4
S J 10 5
H A Q 10 7 2
D 7 5 3
C K J
TableS 2
H 9 6 5 3
D Q 10 8 2
C A Q 8 2
Lead: S 5S K Q 6 4 3
H 8
D A 9 6 4
C 9 7 3

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
1 C
2 S
3 D
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
2 NT
4 S

The straightforward play is to lead the singleton heart early. Alas, West would win the ace and realize the need to shift. Out comes the C K — down one.

Instead, declarer took an indirect approach, attacking the suit the opponents should be leading. When the S 9 held in dummy, he led a club. East hopped with the ace; then a second club went to West’s king, and a spade was returned to South’s king. Next came the singleton heart, won by the ace, and a third trump went to dummy’s ace. The H K was cashed to pitch a club.

Despite avoiding three fast club losers, declarer was still a trick short; but when the H J was ruffed in hand, East was squeezed. If he pitched a diamond, three rounds of diamonds establish South’s nine. If he pitched a club, declarer would cross to the D K, then a club ruff establishes the 10.

Which defender was the culprit? Some might say East for winning the C A, but this was a reasonable play (South might have held a stiff king). Actually, West gets the charge. After winning the C K, he should shift to a diamond; then another diamond after winning the H A breaks up the squeeze. Declarer’s only hope now is a crossruff, but this fails because of West’s trump holding. Try it.

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© 2002 Richard Pavlicek