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Bleep Free

I was somewhat injury-prone even before my horrific cliff-fall in 2001, and it was with a broken wrist (whilst playing cricket), and a cardholder, that I arrived at the 1998 World Championships in Lille. Not that I needed two hands (the human variety) for the second (and only) Par Contest to be held in the last 50 years.

Each of the 35 invited experts were seated at a computer terminal. In the same format as eight years before in Geneva, you saw dummy’s cards, but not the opponents’. You sought to avoid the dreaded “bleep”. For three bleeps per deal, and you score no points, and must move on to the next of the 12 diabolical declarer-play problems.

In Lille, there was a 36th competitor, GIB. GIB, one of the world’s leading computer Bridge programs, was leading after three (of four) sessions, but evidently got “tired”, finishing 12th.

I finished 8th, not bad, given the aching wrist. Whilst being a slightly lower position than Geneva, the overall standard was much better, and my absolute score was higher. Furthermore, I was really out of practice, having spent more time walking from Coast-to-Coast of England, and teaching and managing at my Bridge Club, than playing at the table so far that year.

My favourite deal, and one of the easier ones (!), which I managed bleep-free, was this horrendous Six Clubs. Is there any layout that permits success?

South Deals
None Vul
A J 10 9
A 10 9 4 3
6 5 4
4 3
J 10 9 7 5 3 2
Q 9
W   E
Q 8 7 6
K 8 6 5
J 10 2
K 5 2
7 2
8 6 4
A K 8 7 3
West North East South
      6 ♣1
  1. Contract = 6 ♣ [Don’t try to find a
    sensible sequence: there cannot be one,
    and the resulting slam is appalling!]


The answer is just one. With a certain trump loser, you must score four spade tricks, and discard a heart on the fourth. Lacking the entries to hand to ruff two diamonds, you must make something of the hearts, which you can only do if West has honour-honour doubleton. The desired position can only be reached if West’s shape is precisely 2272 (as you will see), so, with East having more spades, you should play him for the queen.

The indicated line is to lead and run the jack of spades at Trick Two, then run the ten (East playing low - best). Cross to the aceking of trumps, cash the king of spades, cross to the ace of hearts, discard a heart on the ace of spades, and ruff a low heart (both West’s honours appearing).

At Trick Ten, ruff a diamond, then lead the ten of hearts for a ruffing finesse. East covers with the king (best), but you ruff, and exit with a trump. East wins, but his last card is a small heart, taken by dummy’s ten, as you throw away your losing diamond. 12 tricks and slam made.

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