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For bridge hands of interest

Hall of fame

The Bridge Hall of Fame was started by the Bridge World magazine in 1964. The founding members were Ely Culbertson and Charles Goren (the only two bridge authorities to be totally dominant in their times) and Harold Stirling Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt, who died in 1970, was the inventor of the modern game of bridge. Known to friends and family as Mike, he was the great-grandson of the shipping and railway tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. He invented contract bridge in 1925, but it was as a yachtsman that he hit the cover of Time in 1930 when he won the America’s Cup. He repeated this success in 1934 and then, in 1937, with his wife as the first female fully-fledged member of an America’s Cup team. (The two of them were posthumously elected to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame in 1993.)

Read more: Hall of fame

No escape from surround play

In another hand from a past World Bridge Championship, we look at a textbook defensive situation with which few club players are familiar.

Dealer West, both vul
WEST            EAST (Dummy)
 AK             JT42
 Q87            T54
 K8             AT96
 AKJ742         85

2C       2D
2NT      3C
3D       3NT
All pass

In this hand from a Senior Teams World Championship, North led the S5 (fourth highest) to the S2, S8 and SA. Declarer cashed the CA then crossed to dummy via the DA in order to lead a second round of clubs to finesse to the CJ. This won but North showed out. Declarer persisted with clubs but had to lose the fourth round to South.

South now switched to hearts; but which heart should South lead? Usually it is right to lead low (such as the fourth highest) when your honours are broken rather than sequential, but on the actual layout, declarer could then duck the trick around to North's HK, and a heart back would then set up declarer's HQ as a winner.

Read more: No escape from surround play

A matter of planning – and timing

Sitting South with the hand shown, you open a strong notrump, partner raises to 2NT (to show 8-9 HCP), and you accept the invitation. Against your 3NT contract, West leads the H7, fourth highest. You try the H10 from dummy and it wins, indicating that West has both missing heart honours (the king and jack). How should you plan the hand from here?

Dealer South, nil vul


Pass  2NT    Pass   3NT

Read more: A matter of planning – and timing

Judgement time

We all know how to value our high card points: ace = 4, king = 3, queen = 2, jack = 1. Adding points for shortage (after finding a fit) is also a familiar concept. Sometimes, however, a more subtle assessment is required. Consider this duplicate hand:


           1H   Dbl
3H   Pass  Pass 3S
Pass ?

East opened 1H which was doubled by your partner, South. West raised to 3H which was explained as showing a good fit for hearts (four card trump support) but a weak hand. This pre-emptive raise over a takeout double is increasingly popular, as redouble and other strong bids are available with good hands.

Now your partner has backed in with 3S. What is your assessment of the situation?

Read more: Judgement time

Fraud at Grand Slam level

Have a look at this hand, from the 2007 Venice Cup.

Dealer: East. Both vul.

          ♠ AKQ983

WEST                EAST
♠ J5                ♠ 764
 K843               JT952
 AT763              KJ98
 64                 K
          ♠ T2

            Pass  Pass
Pass  1C    Pass  1D   1C=16+ 1D=neg
Pass  2S    Pass  2NT
Pass  3C    Pass  4C
Pass  5NT   Pass  7C
All pass

Playing Precision, the 1C opening was artificial and strong, while the 1D response was the artificial negative. North showed spades and clubs, then jumped to 5NT “grand slam force”, asking South to bid grand slam with good trumps else sign off in 6C. With limited room to move, South took a stab at the grand.

You are West and your partner leads the HJ on which dummy's HQ is played. How do you proceed?

Read more: Fraud at Grand Slam level

Reading the situation

At the 2007 World Championships, the International Bridge Press Association presented its annual Personality of the Year award.

Past winners of this award had included some of the great players and writers of the bridge world, as well as some who had achieved fame in other areas, such as Chinese leader Deng Xiao-Ping, whose love and promotion of the game helped China achieve its position as a great bridge-playing nation.

The 2007 winner, however, was a full-time professional bridge player and journalist, and perhaps the world’s best known high-stakes rubber bridge player. Patrick Jourdain, presenting the award, stated: “He is one of the world’s best card players but has never won an Open World title. You will guess who it is when I tell you that this man can name three different countries as his home. This past year he can be proud of an achievement that occurred away from the bridge table. When the country of his birth was devastated by earthquake he initiated a fund-raising exercise for $150 000 that has resulted in the building of a school in the earthquake-ravaged part of Pakistan. Our winner is the world’s most charismatic bridge player: Zia Mahmood of Pakistan, Great Britain and the USA.”

The favourites to win the 2007 World Championships were Italy and USA 2, but in the end it was Norway who won with USA 1 as the runners-up. Zia was on the USA 1 team and on today’s hand he read the cards well, in the match against the other American team. How would you have done in this situation in Zia's position, West?

Read more: Reading the situation

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