In Boynton, an exclusive small town outside Palm Beach, Florida, in the USA, there is a very peculiar museum annexed to the local bridge club: the Boynton Bridge Academy. Its exhibits are not paintings or sculptures or anything remotely connected with the visual arts but rather consist of one of the largest collections of famous bridge hands ever assembled.
To be selected for admission, a hand has to be proposed by a standing member of the club and has to have been published in a major international bridge publication. An expert committee will then evaluate the merits of the hand: it may be a totally routine hand that was the source of a newsworthy event or it may be the bridge equivalent of a “Mona Lisa,” under whose spell every bridge player will readily fall.
Here is one item from this unique collection: a hand discovered by J.R. Vernes, a well-known expert in the field whose ingenuity and creativity in manipulating the 52 cards to produce spectacular results is renowned around the world.
IMPs Dealer North, N/S Vul.
A 10 7
4 3 2
A K 8 6 4
8 6 4 3 2
Q J 10 9
|Q J 10 9
K Q J
Q J 10 9
|A K 8 4 2
A K 6 5
After a normal bidding sequence, N/S will usually get to 3NT whether East opens or not. It is easy to see that the contract is a hopeless one since both black suits do not split.
“Unlucky partner” would be the normal reaction and the deal would be quickly archived into the recesses of our mind as another non-event. But there is a lot more to this hand than meets the eye.
Would you be able to guess if there is any makeable game contract for N/S and if so, which one?
The answer will no doubt be the last thing you expected: no game contract makes…apart from 4! Let us see what happens in this unlikely spot. Assuming a heart lead, declarer takes the ace and plays AK, AK, AK, ruffs a spade with the 7, ruffs a club with the 9 and finally ruffs a spade with the 10 while West is drowning in his trumps. Et voila’!
Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Vernes!!