Every illustration of a bridge hand is an indication of the great variety that the game offers, in its each and every aspect-in the bidding, in the skills of declarer play and the fine art of defence. Today's hand taken from the bridge. Mastereo Edgar Kaplan's, ingenuity is a classic illustration of how a good bidding is produced, followed by what could possibly have been a skilful defence, failing which, the opportunity for an expert like Kaplan to exhibit a majestic dummy play.
First, let us look at the deal. After two passes, the bidding proceeded with east, opening a third hand light on 11 HCP with a bid of 1C. Kaplan sitting south, holding that massive 17 point hand, vulnerable against non-vulnerable had a bidding problem straight away. Most of us would rush to 1NT straight away holding maximum NT points with all suits covered. But suppose west held what dummy held in diamonds, south would be in a big hole. The experts think in advance.
Kaplan passed 1C and west made his enthusiastic response of IH on mere 3 HC points. When that was passed around to Kaplan, he made his first move to exploit the possibility of a spade fit by making a take out double. And when north duly bid 2D, Kaplan showed his maximum strength by rebidding 2NT, which north with relish raised to 3NT holding a long suit and a good 9 points.
When west made his 4th best heart lead of 6H, Kaplan had to work out a plan of making 9 tricks. The heart lead was a killing one as it was taking away dummy's vital entry early on before Kaplan could do something to run dummy's diamonds even giving up two tricks to gain 3, which along with his 2 hearts, 1 club and 2 spades added up to 8 tricks. A spade split would give him the 9th trick. But for that, the hearts needed to he cut between the defenders.
So Kaplan, ducked the opening heart lead and took the heart king at trick 2. At trick 3 when he played onwards to his QD, east had his first test of skilful defence and failed in it by ducking the KD. The defence error was a huge one for it gave a fillip to the declarer. As south, put yourself in Kaplan's seat and now plan your play for making 3NT. How do you manage it with the diamonds still blocked?
Let us count our possible winners, we can get 3 spades by giving up a spade but with 2 hearts, and a diamond. We need quite a few tricks either in clubs or some sort of an end play to establish diamonds. There are a lot of options but the timing is of the utmost importance.
Well, let us give you another clue as to how Kaplan went on. He rattled off the AK of spades and a third spade. East rushed again to established the hearts for his partner, which was his second defensive error. Can you spot how? For he can see that some sort of an end play is working up on him and his best defence at that stage was to play his diamond to kill the dummy and break a possible squeeze. But east failed to realise that declarer could not be holding more than 2 diamonds for with more, surely he would have persevered with diamonds, instead of switching on to spades. When the last spade was cashed by Kaplan, west discarded a heart and east clutching to his diamonds per force parted with a club leaving this ending.
The ending was a fascinating one for the declarer, for he employed the Chagas. 'Intra Finesse' in clubs, which had taken the world by storm some 35 years ago when Chagas took successive finesses against both opponents in the same suit, which was termed as 'Intra Finesse".
Kaplan playing a small club from hand finessed the 9 of clubs going to east's Jack who now belatedly played his diamond to dummy's ace. When now QC was played, east had no answer for 10C was also pinned leaving Kaplan with an overtrick. There were defensive slips, no doubt in the making of the contract but nevertheless, the declarer would have failed without that 'Intra Finesse".
North West East South
864 J73 Q105 AK92
K10 Q9863 J72 A54
A10876 952 KJ4 Q3
Q97 105 KJ64 A832
North West East South
- - - -
- Q - -
A10 95 KJ 3
Q97 105 KJ6 A832