Most players, no matter how how good they are, like t0 define themselves as " experts ". But what they fail to recognise is that everything is relative. Compared to that baboon over there I'm an expert at bridge, but once I'm outside the cosy confines of my club, and thrown into the national arena of top class competition, I revert back to being a brain-dead novice. True experts have to possess many skills at the highest level, and top of the list is the ease and completeness they can analyse the hands at the table. True experts even under intense pressure can quickly see the best line of play, or perhaps the only successful line of play, whereas the rest of us others are condemned to live in the world of the blind.
This rare quality of being a brilliant card player can be clearly shown in this following example. The man at the helm was Dr. Harry Molnar of Hungary, who played this hand with such consumate skill that Dr. Paul Stern ( who felt honoured to witness the incident ) was completely enthralled.
Dr. Molnar, sitting South, was in 6S holding : AJ975....AJ...98...A975 facing a dummy, which came down with K43....KQ2...AK72...K84. It quickly transpired that West, his LHO, held a 4-4-3-2 blizzard, but one which contained a very awkward four to the 10 trump holding.
West made a standard heart 10 opening lead from top of a sequence, which declarer captured with his Ace. A small spade went to dummy's king, dropping East's stiff queen ! Declarer now had the problem of having to avoid losing 2 tricks, a club and a trump. However, a true expert always comes up with an ingenious plan:
- So the A/K of diamonds were cashed next
- Followed by a diamond ruff
- Then came the A/K of clubs, ending in dummy
- The K/Q of hearts took the next two tricks
With four tricks to play for, a small diamond was played from dummy and ruffed in hand with the jack of spades. West, who was down to 1086 of spades and the heart 9, elected to lob away his useless heart. Dr. Molnar
then calmly played his "losing " club confident in the knowledge West was obliged to take it with a trump.....and in doing so end playing himself......having to lead away from his 108 into declarer's A9.
But his genius didn't stop there, because as West heaved a forlorn sigh of resigned admiration, the good doctor pointed out that the line he had taken was in fact flawed.....in that West could have beaten the contract by avoiding the end play. All he had to do was under-ruff , when declarer ruffed the diamond with the jack of spades. So when the losing club was played, the heart could now be safely thrown knowing that East was able to take the trick. So then with his partner on lead, West was bound to score with his trump 10.
But the analysis was far from over, because the visionary doctor stepped in again after hearing another forlorn sigh from West. This one, however, was loaded with shame and regret. " Six spades.. " he said reassuringly "... was in fact unbeatable, if I had adopted this superior line of play". This involved declarer, at trick 3, playing a small spade from dummy and inserting the 9 from hand......letting West take his trump trick with the 10. Now the play would go as follows:
- take the inevitable heart return in dummy, followed by the two top diamonds
- next comes the diamond ruff, followed by two rounds of spades clearing West's remaining trumps
- re-enter dummy with the king of clubs
At this point dummy is left with the heart king, 3 0f diamonds and 8 of clubs, opposite declarer's A97 of clubs. Poor East is left desperately clutching the boss diamond queen, and the QJ of clubs. At trick 11, when the heart King is finally played, and East has to throw in the towel.
Dr. Molnar's superb ability to make the well bid slam on a cleverly engineered end play against West, followed by an instant analysis of how that line of play could have been scuppered......only to be followed up by an acknowledgement that a superior line of play ought to have been adopted, which involved a cleverly engineered squeeze against East.....was there for all to see and hear. Analysis which seemed effortless . Yes, true experts are those gifted individuals who take very little time, and mental effort, to spot actual or potential problems, never failing to arrive at the best solutions within seconds of discovering (or surmising ) the shape, distribution and holding of the opponents' cards.
Now if you claim to have that ability , then you are either a liar, or someone lucky enough to have just one of those essential skill requirements needed to classify you as " a true expert ".