Join Bridge Winners
A Grand Time in Philly
(Page of 4)

This is a sequel in spirit to my earlier article34 IMPs.

Last month, I visited Zachary Madden for a weekend, and we played in the Philadelphia Sectional. Two deals were particularly haunting.

First, playing matchpoints, as dealer with both sides vulnerable, I picked up a hand with some potential:

South
9
AKQ7632
AKQ82

With no practical alternative, I decided to treat my red suits as solid and open 4NT, a specific ace-ask. Our auction was brief:

W
N
E
S
4NT
P
6
P
7NT
P
P
P

Before the opening lead, West inquired about our auction. "4NT asked for specific aces, and 6 showed the A and one higher-ranking ace," I said confidently.

"I didn't know that was our agreement," Zachary mumbled.

Uh-oh. Clearly we were having a disaster and the opponents owned (at least) the A. I anxiously awaited the opening lead. After what seemed like an eternity, West put the 3 on the table.

West
North
7543
104
1095
AJ63
East
South
9
AKQ7632
AKQ82
W
N
E
S
4NT
P
6
P
7NT
P
P
P
D
7NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
1

I couldn't believe I had escaped a spade lead, and on top of that, I had a dummy entry now. Dummy's 10 held the first trick as East followed. I cashed the club ace, pitching a spade, and triumphantly called for a heart, ready to claim. Eastshowed out!

The full deal:

West
KJ86
J985
J43
72
North
7543
104
1095
AJ63
East
AQ102
76
KQ109854
South
9
AKQ7632
AKQ82
D

I don't think I've ever gone from euphoria to horror and back again so many times on one deal.

On the first board of the Sunday Swiss, Zachary held:

West
J7
K74
KQ10983
93

I passed as dealer, his RHO opened 2, and he pushed the envelope somewhat with 3. The auction unfolded:

W
N
E
S
P
2
3
P
P
3
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
6
P
7
P
P
P

Responder's pass of 3 showed some values.

5 = 1 keycard

5 = queen-ask

6 = Q, but no outside king

7 = good enough

What is your opening lead?

Zachary tried thenormal K, but this was the full deal:

West
J7
K74
KQ10983
93
North
Q10
Q10862
762
A105
East
94
J953
J
J87642
South
AK86532
A
A54
KQ
D

Declarer won the A in hand, unblocked the A, led a low spade ... and inserted the 10.

When that held, declarer ruffed a heart, crossed to the Q, ruffed out the K, entered dummy with the A, and disposed of his losing diamonds on the established hearts.

Shell-shocked, I was entering -2210 on my scorecard when it occurred to me that the "textbook" trump lead against a grand slam would have forced declarer to use an entry to dummy prematurely, defeating the slam.

After that start, I just wanted to go back to bed.

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