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Bridge on Ice?

The Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City this month would seem to have no connection to bridge. Surprise! Bridge teams from over 10 countries will compete in an exhibition match. Bridge is now a sport (says the Olympic committee, not this writer) and evidently it is a winter sport. Wonderful. I’ll be sure to pack my ice skates for the next Nationals.

This deal is from the bridge exhibition at the 1998 Winter Olympics (Lausanne, Switzerland). It occurred in the final match between Brazil and China, which ended in an exact tie.

6 H by South

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

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
North

2 D
3 H
4 D
6 H
East

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 S
2 H
4 C
4 H

Brazil reached the optimistic heart slam on the bidding shown, and West led a club. While there are no apparent losers, it is not obvious how 12 tricks will emerge. Declarer began with a crossruff: D A; C K pitching a diamond; diamond ruff; spade ruff; then a diamond. East was helpless. If he ruffed with the H 10, declarer would overruff and continue the crossruff. East could win a trump trick; but if he returned his last trump, the defenders’ trumps would be gone and the fifth diamond would provide a 12th trick.

What a difference a lead makes. Some people scorn at a singleton trump lead, but the slam cannot be made if West leads the H 7. I know I would have found it on my ice skates.

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© 2002 Richard Pavlicek