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Games: Bridge

WHEN I started playing bridge I used to watch Joel Tarlo at Stefan's Bridge Circle in London, where many experts played. Joel was a former British International, and in 1987, aged 82, he represented Spain in the European Championships. Joel once showed me this hand, which he had played some 30 years earlier. Of course, I didn't find the fine line that he took at the table.

Against Four Hearts, West led ]J, won by the king. Joel returned a spade to dummy's eight and East's ace. A club to West's ace and a club return put Joel in dummy, and he led _7, which held. Having already lost two tricks he had to find a way to restrict his trump losers to one. He now knew that all the outstanding hearts were with East, so he needed to reduce his trumps to the same length as East. A club ruff and a diamond to dummy were followed by ]9. East discarded a diamond, Joel ruffed, and now he and East had three trumps apiece. Crossing to dummy with a diamond, the 4-card ending was: North ]Q _6 +32; East _KQ10 [Q; South _AJ9 +Q; West - immaterial. Joel now led ]Q, which East ruffed with _K - under which Joel discarded his nine of trumps - the key play. If East plays a trump, South covers, cashed the other and his +Q is his tenth trick. East actually played his [Q. Declarer discarded his +Q and ruffed with dummy's _6. A diamond from dummy finished East.

The contract can be beaten if East plays a top honour on the first trump lead, as declarer is then an entry short to dummy.


] Q 9 8 5

_ 7 6

+ A K 3 2

[ K 5 4

] A 3

_ K Q 10 4

+ 10 6 5

[ Q 10 8 7

] K 4

_ A J 9 8 5 2

+ Q 9 7

[ 6 2

] J 10 7 6 2

_ 3

+ J 8 4

[ A J 9 3