Saturday, October 8, 2022

Spider bridge

Of course, you've heard the story about Robert the Bruce and the spider. Twice the spider failed to connect its web, but succeeded on the third try. That spider and, thus inspired, Robert the Bruce, refused to give up and were successful in the end. Here are two consecutive deals which looked hopeless at first. But I refused to give up...

Rixi Markus was fond of saying "most contracts can be made, and most contracts can be defeated." That's what makes bridge so much fun (and occasionally frustrating). Both of the the contracts shown here could (and maybe should) have been set. But they weren't!

Sometimes, I take the descriptions of the robot's hand a little too optimistically. As David Bird would say in the title of his excellent book: "Somehow, we ended up in 6NT." 

Assuming RHO doesn't have DT7653, we have 11 tricks after knocking out the spade ace.  So, all I had to do was to win the opening lead of CQ, and play a spade up to the queen. If it loses, I've "rectified the count" for a squeeze, and it it wins... then I've still got my 11 tricks, but without having rectified the count.

At this point, the double dummy play is to duck a spade to RHO's now singleton ace. But, in any case, I should have cashed the CK before crossing back to dummy, in order to tighten my grip on the defenders. I suspect that, had I done so, they would have defended correctly and I would go down.

Instead, RHO felt squeezed in three suits (he wasn't squeezed in clubs and should have known that from the opening lead). Nevertheless, we pitched three hearts in quick succession. Up to this point, I had no trouble pitching losers from my hand: the three small black cards. On the last diamond, the "squeeze card," RHO played yet another heart and I discarded the C4. It was unlikely to be useful since LHO who was certainly guarding clubs would be playing after me.

At this point, there were only four hearts out and if they all fell under the AK, the contract would be mine. And so it proved.

If there is a moral to this story, it is this: even if you don't have a true squeeze, and even if you don't play it perfectly, your opponents may not quite know what's going on and give you the contract anyway.

The next hand was an example of that uncommon situation: the "impossible spade." Kudos to the robot for knowing this convention but shame on him for not understanding the follow-up bids. My 3D was "to play!" If I'd wanted to be in game, I could have made any other bid. Notwithstanding his minimum invitation and poor trump support, my CHO put me in 4H.

The D8 looked ominously like a singleton (although it wasn't). I had two spade losers, at least one club loser and, since I was missing KJ9743 of trumps, it looked like at least one, if not three trumps losers. Was there any hope at all? I opted to win the opening lead in the dummy and play a low trump to my queen. For better or worse, I decided to return a trump, using the ten to force at least one of the top honors out. LHO, somewhat obligingly, played the nine while RHO followed the principle of playing the card he was known to hold, the king.

At this point, RHO made a play (CQ) that wasn't exactly wrong, but certainly made my life a little easier, since I was the one with the jack. After caching the spade ace at trick five, he can easily get himself a trump promotion by continuing with a low spade to his parter's king. But this is where the play of the CQ led to their failure: believing that RHO had the CJ for the setting trick, he gave up on the trump promotion and played a club. After winning the trick and drawing the outstanding trumps, I could claim another impossible contract.

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