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The dangers of overcalling (Le Bridgeur Magazine n°903)

Article written by Jérôme Rombaut and published in the French magazine Le Bridgeur n°903 (May/June 2016)

As you may know, Funbridge is the partner of the French, Norwegian and Swiss bridge federations and gives you the opportunity to play federation-sanctioned tournaments to improve your rank in your own country.

Here is a deal played precisely at the French Bridge Federation premises at the last stage of the France Open Team selection process for the European Teams Championships. France was playing against England.

The bidding proceeds as follows and your final contract is 4H:

West E

 
You and your partner hold the hands below:

S A 6 2
H A Q J 4 3
D 10 5
C K 9 5
S K 8 4
H 9 8 6
D A Q J 9 7 2
C 8

 

North leads the spade 10.

The first thing that comes to mind is to hope you can guess where the club ace is, which would allow you to eliminate the spade loser and ruff a club at one go. But if the club king is taken by the ace, you are pretty much obliged to find out where the two red kings are.

Here is how Jean-Christophe Quantin played the deal: spade 10 taken by the king in dummy (the queen appears, suggesting that spades are split 5-2) and clubs to the king taken by the ace. Spade return to the jack and ace. Unsuccessful diamond finesse and heart return. At this stage, Jean-Christophe has two choices: hope that the heart king is in the position he has imagined or that the heart king is bare or second after his hand (with only two diamonds in the hand). He chooses the heart finesse which is statistically more frequent but fails, so his contract doesn’t make.

At another table, Thomas Bessis takes the lead with the spade ace and makes a diamond finesse. He makes the trick on the spade return and draws two rounds of diamonds to discard his losing spade. North ruffs with the 5 and plays spades, ruffed in hand by declarer. Thomas thus plays the heart ace (!) to catch the by then bare king. He continues with the club king to give North the lead and quietly ruff the two losing clubs. Thomas won 64 IMP on this deal compared to 5 other players on the same deal. Now you must be thinking that he is a clairvoyant who can see through the cards! Of course, he is not. But then how did he manage to guess where the cards were? There is nothing easier. He took advantage of an overcall (1♠ by North) that should not have been made. Then a perfect analysis of the situation did the rest.

The full deal was:

S 10 9 7 5 3
H K 5
D 6 3 
C A J 6 3
S A 6 2
H A Q J 4 3
D 10 5
C K 9 5
S K 8 4
H 9 8 6
D A Q J 9 7 2
C 8
S Q J
H 10 7 2
D K 8 4
C Q 10 7 4 2

 

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