Feb 132003

E/W Vul
Dealer: East
Lead: S7

S 9 8 3
H K 9 4 3
D 9 8 7 6 2
C 4
S 7 6
H 10 8 7 6
C A K Q J 8 2
[W - E] jdonn
S K J 10 5 4 2
H Q 2
D Q J 4 3
C 9
H A J 5
D A 10 5
C 10 7 6 5 3




2 S
3 C


Let’s say you hear a first-seat 2S opener, and you hold 15 points, 3 aces, a double stopper in spades, and your long suit, clubs, is 10xxxx.

2NT? That’s for STCPs™. The winning bid is 3C! This is passed by a startled West and unhappy North around to East, who makes a Bones reopening double with no extra values whatsoever. Reopening Bones, in this auction, instructs partner to bid with a long suit and no defense, and pass otherwise. West, whose long suit happens to be clubs, makes one of the world’s more obvious penalty passes, and here we are.

Even so, it looks worse than it is. With Qx onside in hearts and a spade lead an ordinary declarer will have trouble taking fewer than six tricks, for -500, an ordinary disaster. Gee, however, is no ordinary declarer.

The opening spade lead is ducked to Gee’s queen, and he promptly leads a trump. East wins the 9 and continues spades. Gee wins the spade ace for his second trick and plays another trump. West proceeds to draw trump. East tosses the diamond 3, showing a diamond preference, and three spades; Gee throws a spade and three diamonds from dummy.

West now shifts to the king of diamonds, taken by Gee with the ace. Three tricks for declarer. The black suits are known. West has five red cards and East has six. How are the suits laid out?

The diamond preference indicates at least the queen, probably the jack as well. (West might also have led diamonds holding KQJ tight.) West therefore holds either the stiff king or KJ. If KJ, hearts are 3-3, and East likely has the queen. (Otherwise he opened 2S unfavorable, and doubled 3C, with KJ10xxx xxx Qxx x. Bones, but still.) In any case there is no choice about how to play the hearts. Lead to the king and finesse the jack.

Gee diagnoses matters correctly, however, and places West with the stiff king, leaving East with two hearts. Now it’s a guess: if East’s hearts are Qx, declarer must finesse. But if they’re 10x, he must play the ace and the jack, pinning the 10. Well, I need not tell you which line our unlucky hero chose. It is true that if the pinning play fails you go down five instead of four on the finesse (West would be forced to lead another heart back eventually, allowing declarer to make two heart tricks.) It is true that if the hearts do happen to be 3-3 the pinning play cannot succeed. It is true that Gee’s line requires East to have made a reopening Bones double with KJ10xxx 10x QJxx x. And yet, so unlucky.

  2 Responses to “Sticks! Wheels!”


    That 3C bid falls into the “Forget bridge, do anything to entertain the specs” category. Were they entertained? Bet they were:)


    I do not agree that if hearts are 3-3 the “pinning” play is always wrong. If west had Qxx he would smoothly duck right? (G could have AJT). He was combining Tx of hearts with this deceptive edge. Experts do, after all, combine chances :)

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