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Nonagenarian’s nine (tricks)

Bernard Teltscher, recently a nonagenarian, learnt Bridge way back in 1931. He is still playing an extremely accurate game. Watch his fabulous play on this 3 NT deal – which looks a country mile away from making. [Despite their paucity of high cards, the deal theoretically belongs to East-West, who can make the highest contract of 3].

South Deals
None Vul
A J 5 2
K 8 6
10 4
K 10 5 3
K 10 8 7
A J 9 7 3
7 4 2
W   E
6 4
A J 10 9 3
Q 8 5 2
8 6
Q 9 3
Q 5 4 2
K 6
A Q J 9
West North East South
      1 NT
Pass 2 ♣1 Pass 2 
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 NT
Pass Pass Pass
  1. Stayman – a request for four-card majors.

3 NT by South


West led the seven of diamonds, declarer beating East’s queen withe the king. Declarer needed to sneak a heart trick past an unwary opponent’s ace, and that opponent would have to be East [if West held the ace, he would simply win it and cash diamonds].

At trick two declarer crossed to the king of clubs, then led a low heart. East inserted the nine – after all, rising with the ace would present declarer with two heart tricks – and declarer won the queen. That mistake from East was all declarer needed.

Declarer cashed his three club winners, West discarding a spade on the last, then led a low spade to the jack. Realising that West would not be kind enough to discard a spade down to ♠Kx, declarer did not cash the ace, hoping for West’s king to drop. Look at the ending and see if you can work out what he did do.

A 5 2
K 8
K 10
A J 9 3
W   E
A J 10 3
Q 9
5 4 2

At trick eight declarer exited with a second diamond (key play). West could win and cash three more diamonds, but at trick 12 he had to lead from ♠K10. Dummy’s last two cards were ♠A5 and declarer’s were ♠Q9. He ran West’s ten of spades exit to his queen and scored the last trick with dummy’s ace. Nine tricks and game made – bravo Bernard.

Should East have worked out to rise with the ace of hearts at trick three to lead another diamond? Assuming West’s seven of diamonds lead was his fourth highest, he had to have AJ9 (you can use the Rule of 11): the suit was ready to run. Having said that, if West only began with four diamonds (not enough winners), rising with the ace and presenting declarer with a second heart trick might not be so clever.

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