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Intergalactic Bridge

This deal was played in Sector 9 of the Intergalactic Team Trials aboard the starship Remulus. I was able to download the bidding and play records over the Extranet last week, which means the deal occurred 1.3 million years ago (if my light-speed math is correct). I’ll be sure to upload a copy so in another 1.3 million years they can appreciate their press coverage on earth; and in 2.6 million years I may even get a thank-you note.

The bidding was standard. West’s 2 S opening showed any suit but spades, and North’s double was Octavian (popular Andromedan variation of Septurian). South bid his highest ranking suit, then North’s jump to 6 H was Koplatnik, asking South to choose among 6 S, 6 NT and 7 S. South used excellent judgment to choose the small slam in spades.

6 S by South

None Vul
S A K 9 8
H A J
D A K 5 4
C A K 5
S 2
H Q 10 8 7 6 5
D Q 2
C Q 10 9 8
TableS J 10 4 3
H 9
D 10 9 8 7 6
C 4 3 2
Lead: S 2S Q 7 6 5
H K 4 3 2
D J 3
C J 7 6

West
2 S
Pass
All Pass
North
Dbl
6 H
East
Pass
Pass
South
3 S
6 S

West led his singleton trump. This would not be the choice of most terrestrial experts, but we must respect their advanced civilization. A footnote in the play records explained that leading a singleton trump is 2.7 percent better than leading from a queen. So be it.

Put yourself in the South seat and see if you can make this slam looking at all four hands. It is unlikely you will, however, since our knowledge is so limited in comparison to the universal norm. But, give it a try.

Solution

Declarer began with a routine holdup play — North played the S 8, and East was allowed to win the trick with his 10. This may seem unusual to us, but it was ordinary technique by their standards. Indeed, it was the only way to make the contract. If you win the first spade trick, you cannot succeed.

At trick two East shifted to his singleton heart; low, low, ace. Many of us would have won the trick cheaply with jack, but we have to learn that the finesse is only a primitive tool in card play. Real card players scoff at the maneuver. Ask any Galactic Master how to play A-Q opposite x-x and the answer would be, “What’s the problem? Low to the ace.”

Declarer next won a second trump with the queen, then cashed both top diamonds and ruffed a diamond. Dummy was entered with a club, and the last diamond was ruffed in hand. A club to dummy left the following ending:

North to lead

S A K
H J
D
C 5
S
H Q 10 8
D
C Q
TableS J 4
H
D 10
C 4
S
H K 4 3
D
C J

As the remaining trumps were drawn, South pitched a heart and a club. West was squeezed! He could not protect both hearts and clubs. Note that the C 5 would be good if West threw the C Q.

Key Pointers

You, too, can be a Galactic Master! Boost your game into the next millennium with these key pointers:

Always use the holdup play.
Never take a finesse.

If you should ever fail in a contract when a finesse would have worked, just be prepared with the line, “Unlucky, partner! The king was onside.”

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© 2000 Richard Pavlicek