Criss-Cross – The Gee Chronicles
Dec 102002

None Vul
Dealer: East
Lead: HK

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

2 H



1 D
1 H


Today’s hand begins inauspiciously, as Gee and suspiciously-frequent-partner-who-ought-to-know-better-and-almost-certainly-does Josh Donn reach an underdog, but normal at IMPs, notrump game. The only remarkable feature of the auction is Gee’s spurning his normal bid, the burger 2NT, on one of the few occasions when it’s actually correct — although Josh, given the declarer, would have raised to game anyway.

South leads the heart king and our hero surveys the territory. The diamond king must be on to make; if it’s off then South is marked with the club king for his overcall, and declarer can never come to more than eight tricks. But assuming the DK is on and diamonds break, declarer can play for a ninth trick in spades, finessing into the safe hand; or failing that, possibly in clubs as well, if South holds exactly Kx of diamonds. There are also interesting endplay chances if you win the second heart, run the diamonds and later throw in South with the last heart.

Our hero, however, ducks the first two hearts, obviating the endplay because he sees deeper into the hand. He wins the third heart as North discards the D6, and takes the diamond finesse, which holds. There are now two very good reasons to place South with Kx: he has shown five hearts, and thus is likelier to be short diamonds; and North discarded a diamond on the third heart, which is very likely from three, and gave odd count into the bargain.

If South indeed holds Kx, there are enough entries to drop the diamond king, cross to hand on the fourth diamond, take the spade finesse into the safe hand (which also plays the overcaller for an outside honor), and then still try the club finesse if that fails. Gee has a better idea. He boldly leads a club from dummy for the immediate club finesse! What makes him think the CK is with North? Table feel. Although careful study of these columns can make the STCP™ a better player, nothing, ultimately, can substitute for the intuition of a master.

The club finesse wins, and Gee runs the diamonds, leaving this position:

helpless defender #1
S 9 7 5 3
marveling dummy
D 2
C 10 7 6
[W - E] Maestro
S A 6 4 2
D 9
helpless defender #2
S Q 10 8
H 10 5
C 4


The maestro now plays his last diamond winner. South throws his last club, but North is caught in a criss-cross squeeze. If he bares his CK, Gee cashes the CA and dummy’s last two clubs are good with the SK as an entry. North chooses instead to discard a spade. Gee finesses the SJ, cashes SK, returns to his hand with the CA, and the long spade is good.

“Bet this won’t make Aaron’s web site,” says Gee happily. Nonsense. It is true, sadly, that one cynical spec remarked that the criss-cross was Gee’s best chance for a happy accident because it involves blocking two suits. But here at the Chronicles, where objective reporting is our watchword, such thoughts could not be further from our mind. What does he think this is, The New York Times?

  3 Responses to “Criss-Cross”


    Yet another of Gee’s underappreciated talents is his ability to block suits, without apparent malice aforethought. That he was able to do it twice in the same hand is a measure of his acumen. It was a mix of the exact ingredients necessary to produce the matrix for a crisscross pinch. Who says two wrongs don’t make a right?


    Let me get this straight. At the point in play shown in the second diagram, Gerard has won 5 tricks and needs four more to make his game. No matter how long I stare at the layout, I fail to count less than four winners in aces and kings – no finesses needed here. Gee need only to avail himself of these tricks to fulfill his contract. This he does not do. I check the scoring method. It says IMPs. That can’t be right…the line of play is not consistent with IMP scoring so I check the score. -4.89. Hmmm. That’s definitely an IMP result. Barring some programming error or a huge mixup at the pre-processing plant, i have to conclude that the result is real. Winning 5 for a score of 460 indicates that the datum on the hand is about +260. This means that scoring 400 on the hand would have garnered a modest 3-4 IMP pickup. This also means that minus 50 on the hand would have been lose about 7. So Gee’s line of play risked about 10.5 IMPs to gain 1.5. Thats 7 to 1 against. What’s that? He couldn’t go down on his line of play? Really? Let’s change the N-S hands slightly: let’s switch the jack of clubs with the spade queen. I think you’ll agree that Tx, KQJTx, Kx, Jxxx is still worth a non-vulnerable overcall of 1H. But guess what happens when Gee hooks the spade in the end-game? North wins and exits with his now bare King of clubs. Having blocked suits for the third time, not even the great master can extricate himself from the mess he has created however masterfully. All that remains is for Gerard to consult a map and choose his route to Southern Florida. Ace and a spade (we’ll call that route A1A) leads to Miami from the north. A low spade to the King and then, perforce, a club from the West hand (we’ll call this route Key West) leads to Miami from the south. And you thought this fine example of bridge butchery wasn’t worth a column. Such a kidder that Gerard.


      I thought of that. But when South discards a club, instead of a spade, on the last diamond, leaving only two clubs outstanding, the spade hook is absolutely safe. Gee was of course completely aware of this.

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