A Bridge Phantasmagoria
Four friends on holiday in Las Vegas had been able to obtain temporary membership of a bridge club famed for its large number of experts and international players. Spectating only at their visit, they soon discovered that quite often cards were returned to the board without being exposed and the result agreed to the apparent satisfaction of all concerned.
Love all: South deals
Expert South quickly got to Six No-trump and West led the ten of spades. Making a pronouncement, South declared, “Duck spade: automatic squeeze if spades fail to break,” and made to return his cards to the board.
Plucking up courage, East, who fancied his queen of clubs, spoke up. “I’m no expert, so please would you demonstrate by playing the hand.”
South graciously assented. He ducked the spade and won the ace and king on a continuation. He followed with five diamond tricks and everyone was down to five cards, viz.
He played the ace and king of clubs, squeezing West in spades and hearts. East apologised for wasting time.
At the close of the tournament they quizzed their friends about this hand and were told that when the spades failed to break, declarer had taken the club finesse to go one down in the Six No-trump contract. They got into close conclave to study the “Automatic Squeeze” and finally they switched some of the East-West cards to change the hand thus wise.
On the same play as before for the first eight tricks and a follow up of the ace and king of clubs, no squeeze would materialise and declarer would lose a heart trick and go down.
They decided to take the hand back to the Expert and show him that his play would have failed on this different lay-out and his answer shook them rigid.
“I take it you guys are going back to the UK in a day or so, and so if you promise to keep quiet, I will let you into a secret.” They promised and so Mr. Expert continued.
“It all depends on who has the queen of clubs and with your hand the ending would be as follows:
I now play the ace and king of hearts and West is squeezed in spades and clubs.”
“But you squeezed with the ace and king of clubs in one case and the ace and king of hearts in the other. How can you know which way to do it?” they chorused.
“It all depends on who has the queen of clubs and who asks me to play the hand. If East asks, it is because he fancies his queen of clubs and if West asks, it is because he realises that I am no longer allowed to finesse. So if East asks, I squeeze with the ace and king of clubs and, if West asks, I squeeze with the ace and king of hearts. Mark you, you have to be smart to be able to do this. Pretty cute, don’t you think?”
Our friends greatly regretted their promise of silence, which prevented them reporting such reprehensible conduct.