Barnet Shenkin

Spectacular Duck a Record? by Barnet Shenkin prev/next

Playing in his local rubber bridge game at the Palm Beach Country Club Benito Garozzo Found an unusual play that had both the opponents confused and his partner a little worried.

The bidding with Benito as South:

Pass 1♦Pass 1♠
Pass 2♥Pass 3♣
Pass 3♠Pass 4♠

West led the ♠6 and as dummy I tabled
♠A 9 3
♥A J 5
♦A K J 10 7
♣8 4

Benito appeared to study the hand and called for the ♠3. When East played the 5 he followed with the ♠2!

West had won the trick with the his opening lead of the trump 6! At this stage the players except Benito started laughing . Had the pressure got too much and finally he had pulled a wrong card? Everybody waited for him to say sorry I pulled the wrong card and in our friendly game he would be allowed to change it. However his face as usual gave away nothing and West now switched to a heart.

Here was the full layout.

N ♠A 9 3
♥A J 5
♦A K J 10 7
♣8 4
W ♠J 10 8 6
♥9 7 3 2
♦8 5
♣A Q 5
 E ♠7 5
♥Q 10 8
♦9 6 4 3
♣K J 10 6
 S ♠K Q 4 2
♥K 6 4
♦Q 2
♣9 7 3 2

Benito won the heart return in hand played the ♠A and when both opponents followed he claimed 10 tricks. Now in order to speed the game up we play a rule that declarer cannot score overtricks in his undoubled contract. His only concern was to make his contract. Benito decided not to play ♠A ♠K and then play on diamonds as in this actual layout West would ruff the third round put partner in with ♣A and a club to the K and would score a second diamond ruff with the ♠J for the setting trick .Another possible danger in immediately playing 3 top trumps was in a 5-1 diamond split that would allow the defence to score a trump and three clubs. So Benito found this safety play by letting the ♠6 hold the trick and keeping control. If the defence played 3 rounds of clubs he could ruff in dummy cash the trump ace and return to hand to draw the remaining trumps and claim.

Of course he could have played the ♠9 on this occasion and held the trick. But then there would have been no story to tell. Any mere mortal can win the first trick with the trump nine but it takes a 13 time World Champion to lose the opening trick to the lead of the trump six and still come out on top with his contract!