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The Magic of Bridge by Andrew Kambites

The Early Days of Bridge

Introduction stories of brilliancies and magical plays by Declarer wins the king of hearts, cashes

the experts. New ideas were surfacing. Many dummy’s clubs and crucially, the ace of

I MUST ADMIT to a certain amusement of these were called ‘Coups’. It is an indi- diamonds, before returning to his hand

when the Editor asked me to contribute a cation of how much the general standard of with the ace of hearts, reaching Layout B.

series on exotic bridge hands. As I have long card play has improved that some of these Now when the queen of hearts is cashed,

contended that most players spend too would hardly raise an eyebrow nowadays. In dummy throwing the six of diamonds,

much time in trying to play complex con- Layout A South is in 7NT; West leads the ™J: East cannot retain the king of diamonds

ventions and looking for obscure plays, it is and four spades. Of course if declarer fails

a bit like asking Sir Alex Ferguson (who for to cash the ace of diamonds, East could

the sake of those who don’t follow football, Layout A safely discard the king of diamonds

was until recently the manager of Man- ´ AKQ6 because declarer could not use the

chester United) to write enthusiastically on ™ K6 diamond queen. Hardly earth shattering

the beauty of the football that is played by t A6 but the cashing of the ace of diamonds

Manchester City. However, I will enjoy ® A Q 10 3 2 was originally considered sufficiently dif-

writing this series. Although I believe that ´ 74 ´ J 10 9 8 ficult to merit the name ‘Vienna Coup’ –

N

most players would greatly improve their ™ J 10 9 8 W E

™ 7432 an unblocking manoeuvre made in prepa-

bridge results by concentrating on doing the t J985 S t K 10 7 ration for a squeeze play.

simple tasks well, it is undeniably true that ® 965 ® 87

part of the fascination of bridge is its ability ´ 532 Some ‘Coups’ Featured Bad Plays!

to produce hands of beauty and elegance. ™ AQ5

My approach is to look at hands that have t Q432 Coups didn’t necessarily have to feature

actually been played or slight variations that ® KJ4 good bridge! Have you ever heard a bridge

could be played at the table. I will try to player claiming he had been ‘Grosvenored’?

analyse the thought processes that led (or in The ‘Grosvenor Gambit’ is named after a

some cases should have led) to success at the South has twelve easy tricks. A 3-3 spade fictitious literary character called Philip

table. break would give him a thirteenth but any Grosvenor who discovered by accident the

In this series you will meet many exotic good county player would realise that if the psychological merits of making an absurd

and beautiful plays. How should you same defender has four spades and the king defensive play which gave opponents a

approach analysing the hands? Before I of diamonds he can be squeezed without chance of making an impossible contract,

played bridge, I was a chess player with lots giving up the chances of a 3-3 spade break. but was so grotesque that opponents could

of enthusiasm but no great technique. The The secret of planning squeeze play is to never believe what had happened and so

endgame (i.e. the part of the game with work back from the desired ending, in this could not take advantage. For example,

relatively few pieces left) was a closed book case Layout B with South on lead: South bids to 7´ and the trump suit is

to me. My approach was: ‘If I do that, he shown in Layout C:

does that, then I do . . . etc.’ A stronger player

could look at the board and know that if he Layout B

could reach a known position it was a win ´ AKQ6 Layout C

for him. So he knew what he was aiming at, ™ — ´ A Q 10 9

whereas I didn’t. This is called technique. t 6

N

The same is true at bridge: when consider- ® — ´ 765 W E ´ K4

S

ing a wide variety of potentially clever plays ´ 74 ´ J 10 9 8

(e.g. endplays and squeezes), the expert is ™ 10 9 N ™ — ´ J832

W E

aiming for a known position and working t J S t K

back to see how he could get there. Many of ® — ® —

my hands will feature this approach. ´ 532 Declarer runs the jack of spades and East

™ Q . . . ducks! With the sight of all four hands

Some ‘Coups’ Were just Good Plays t Q declarer could drop the king of spades, but

® — of course he will do no such thing. He will

The early days of bridge abounded with lose a second finesse and be irritated that

44 English Bridge August 2013 www.ebu.co.uk

Index

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