Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Hugh McGann Magic

Hugh Kelsey said in his introduction to "Logical Bridge Play"
the brilliant card player achieves his results through a combination of logic and flair. And although many people may think flair plays a disproportionate part, the expert player, in fact, produces his sometimes unbelievable results almost entirely by the application of logic.
I was reminded of this when I first viewed this hand by another Hugh from the round robin of the World Mind Sport Games - which at first blush I couldn't believe he had found the correct line.

Click the NEXT button in the diagram to follow the play

I will now go through the logic that led to Hugh being the only declarer to make the contract.

Trick 1: If you duck and get a heart switch you could be off four tricks before you start so grab the Ace.

Trick 2: If we draw trumps - even getting Qxx onside - we will have two club losers and at least two heart losers. One diamond discard does no good so we must finesse the Jack. By doing so immediately we may gain some residual chances on a kind break in diamonds.

Trick 3-4: There are two reasons to discard hearts instead of clubs: 1) even the third round of hearts might be a loser so we may be discarding two losers 2) there is a possibility of a ruff in clubs.

Trick 5: If South is short in diamonds, North may be able to promote a trump in South's hand by leading diamonds. We can prevent this by drawing trumps or by throwing a losing heart on a diamond. This is what Zia did at the other table. Destroying the J♠ makes no sense and we have no quick entry to hand - unless North shows out of diamonds - to take the trump finesses so leading the diamond is the clear winner.

Trick 5.5: When North shows out the loser-on-loser is no longer necessary. Interestingly North pitched a heart. If he has the Q♠ this likely puts him with a doubleton club or 4+ . If he had three then I think he unblocks the Q♣ in preparation for a trump promotion. Anyway, if we ruff now we can run for home if South has Qx or Qxx.

If we can get a club ruff we would be able to survive a trump loser. If we try this it feels like we should now ruff the diamond. One definite layout where this gains is when South has the stiff A♥ and Tx/9x of spades. By discarding we enable him to exit the heart and let his partner win our club exit to give him a trump promotion.

Another benefit of ruffing is when trumps are 4-1 and the singleton is Q,T, or 9. By reducing our trump length we may be able to set up a trump endplay - foreshadowing!

Trick 6-8: Unless South has a singleton heart that is not the Ace then it must be better to pursue the club ruff.and the heart returns help us to shorten our trump length - not that E-W can do anything now.

Trick 9: we take the club ruff and North shows out in clubs. Since all red suit cards are gone we know that North has nothing but four spades left.

Trick 10: Cash the K♠ and hope that the Q,T, or 9 drops from South.

Trick 11: The most spectacular part of the hand is now double dummy.


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