Tuesday, 20 April 2010

I have always liked the idea of creating fantasy bridge hands, which would always cause mayhem and amusement at the bridge tables. Dreaming up nightmare hands provides a safe release for my sadistic tendencies, where only fantasy figures are on the receiving end.
Well, 40 years ago when I first took up bridge I had the good fortune to pick up one of all time favourite bridge books " Playing With The Aces " by Ira Corn Jr. And just the other day when I dipped into it again, there on page 30 was Bobby Wolff's very own fantasy hand. The chapter was entitled " A Bridge Player's Nightmare ( The Wolff in Wolf's Clothing) " , and it is a story which provides a lesson to us all.
The contract was 6S with dummy (North) offering very little in the way of 943....Q7.....Q976....J854 opposite declarer's massive AQ108765.....A6....A.....AKQ.
In Wolff's dream he made N/S vulnerable, and the man himself was sitting East with a 2-6-5-0 distribution. He knew that a double for a club ruff would achieve very little. Declarer would have no choice after winning the return at trick 2 but to lay down the Ace of spades. This line of play would see the contract home when the West's stiff King falls underneath it. Next would come the queen of spades drawing the jack, two top clubs, a low spade to dummy's 9, and the losing heart going away on the jack of clubs.
Oh no, this story had to have a different ending. Defenders had to be smarter than that. And so in this fantasy hand West led the jack of hearts from J109, and when the queen was played from dummy, the crafty and wily Wolff played small !.........luring and enticing an unsuspecting declarer into a trap. He had fortuitously got into dummy and was now in a position to make a safety play in spades. From his point of view, the only way the contract could fail was if he found East with KJx of spades....and he failed to take the finesse.
So at trick 3, a trump appeared from dummy, and the Wolff played low......cunningly low....and the finesse of the queen lost to West's stiff king. Back came a club for the Wolff-man to ruff. Such joy. Such delight.
Indeed, for people wanting to improve their game, there is so much to learn from this story : defenders always need think ahead.....never rushing in at trick 1........having a real understanding of how declarer's mind will be working.......using cunning and guile to steer declarers away from a winning line of play ( into one which will fail )...... and even when contracts look unbeatable defenders must never give up ( nil desperandum )...... always looking to use deception and smokescreens to induce declarer errors.

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