Source: Thursday, 29 June 1995. 42nd GENERALI European Bridge Championships Daily Bulletin.

Best Bidding? Best Play? Or the Best Show In Town? The Mother of All Hands

Dear Journalists! Pick up your pens and get away! Switch off the computers, there is nothing more to do. Here we present the mother of all hands:

Italy v Israel Open Teams Round 22. Board 16. Dealer West. E/W Vul.

A 3
3
A K Q J 3
10 8 7 5 3
Q J 10 9

7 6 4
K Q J 6 4 2
K 2
Q 9 8 7 6 5 2
10 9 5
A
8 7 6 5 4
A K J 10 4
8 2
9
West North East South
Versace Birman Lauria Zeligman
11 2NT 2 33 Pass 4
Pass (!) Pass 5 Oops 6
Franco Broccoli
Franco Broccoli

The explanation of all this:

(1) We are modern painters, undisciplined, and you should understand that.

(2) Minor two-suiter.

(3) Transfer to hearts, limit.

(4) A limit hand with hearts? Oh, how unpleasant (licking his lips).

(5) What is going on? Anyway, for them to make 3I have to revoke at least twice! Let’s wait and see!

(6) Has he forgotten one of our conventions or are they all three playing against me? This is what you get when your partner is an impressionist.

Versace thought about his partner’s limit bid in hearts: ‘There we are. What can I do? My partner has got the hearts, and South has them as well. I cannot repeat my spades and for sure, South will be dangerous in this suit as well.The missing clubs will all be over my shoulder. So what?’

Alfredo Versace
Alfredo Versace

Suddenly, he got a luminous idea: ‘Pass! Let’s take some time and tell partner that I won’t see hearts again, not even on a picture.’

But if you think you have got the whole story by now, you are quite off the track.The pass by Birman, who could be sure of only one thing, namely that the opponents would not have made their contract, then closed a more or less unusual auction.

Ladies and Gentlemen: may I have the pleasure to introduce you to the play of the hand:

The lead was the 9, which clockwise, as always, went round to Lauria’s Ace. A low heart was ruffed in dummy, taking out North’s singleton in the suit in the process. A spade came next. Birman went up with the Ace and thus deserved the play of the King by Lauria.

Lauria-Birman
Lauria-Birman

Birman then returned a club, because if he draws trumps, he will be forced to hand dummy a number of tricks.

Lauria ruffed this with the 10 (not a bad idea), played a spade to dummy and ruffed another club with the 9 (see previous comment).

Let’s count the tricks: A, Q, two ruffs in hand and one in dummy: voilà, five tricks.

At this point, Lauria put the 5 on the table and the defenders had to play well to avoid having to present declarer with only one trick and not two.

In the other room, the more human contract of 3was doubled and was penalised by two tricks. So the hand produced a swing of 200 points or 5 imps to Italy. Curtain.

P.S. A propos: what about a trump lead against 3?

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