Source: info.ecatsbridge.com

No, I don’t mean questioned the pedigree of your opponents’ mothers. Or their bridge-playing skills. It’s a pity the players in this world championship are not above such tactics. There is more than enough room within the game itself to practice this art without stooping to such breaches of etiquette. I mean the sort of psychological warfare of which Victor Mollo would have approved. Like this hand.

Spade Suit A Q J 10
Heart Suit J 5 3
Diamond Suit A 8 6 3
Club Suit K 8 7
Spade Suit K 6
Heart Suit K 9 4
Diamond Suit 7 5
Club Suit K Q J 6 4

What is the best chance of making 12 tricks in 3NT after West has overcalled 1H? At stake, I thought, was not only a possible IMP, but also the chance of making the defense feel foolish. This, as Mollo would attest, could be worth any number of IMPs. We were playing perhaps the fifth or sixth team we had met so far from the India/Pakistan zone. We were yet to beat one, so I was more than willing to try anything as far as bridge goes.

If East held an honor in hearts, it was most likely the 10, so rising with the Heart SuitJ looked like a good idea. When East followed with 10, it was possible he still held another heart. (I did not think I could afford to release the H9, in case East had two hearts.

Then followed four spades, discarding the Heart SuitK and a diamond; five clubs discarding two hearts from dummy. Yes, West did discard the Heart SuitA and Heart SuitQ — plus 690. Then the bickering began. Maybe it was just coincidence, but finally we did win a match against the subcontinent.

Then there is this example from the first match of the Swiss. This time we are victims. An American declarer, Lee Rautenberg (West), found himself in 6Diamond Suit on this hand.

Spade Suit K 10 7 4
Heart Suit 8 5 3
Diamond Suit 7 6 2
Club Suit 7 6 3
Spade Suit 8 6
Heart Suit 9 7
Diamond Suit K Q J 10 5 4 3
Club Suit A K 2
Spade Suit A Q 5
Heart Suit A K J 6 4
Diamond Suit A
Club Suit 9 8 5 4
Spade Suit J 9 3 2
Heart Suit Q 10 2
Diamond Suit 9 8 3
Club Suit Q J 10

In the “feeling foolish” department, this pair had already acquitted themselves well. On the first board they went for 1100 in 3NT for no particular reason. They remained calm. By this board, though, it was time for a little revenge.

Declarer could make one overtrick in 6Diamond Suit by setting up hearts. That, however, left no chance to make the opponents feel foolish. Instead declarer went for the squeeze. He won the Spade SuitQ, unblocked the Diamond SuitA, crossed to the Club SuitA and ran trumps. North did not keep his club holding in order to break up the squeeze, so there was ample reason for us to feel foolish after the hand, not least of which because it is pretty to make a trick by retaining 7-x-x of a suit.

Such opportunities are not meant to be wasted. Perhaps it was no coincidence that we were the victims of a large loss in this match. I’m sure Victor Mollo would know.