Two in one
(Author – S.Sundar Ram)
It is very rare to get to see a par event theme happen on an actual deal, so it is truly an event when two such themes happen on a single deal. Before coming to the actual deal, I would like to present the themes, both from the 1997 World par championships.
The first is from Geza Otlik's "Adventures in card play", named somewhat oddly as a "one card squeeze". Here, a defender is caught between the dilemma of discarding a winner & setting up a trick for the declarer - or retaining the winner & allowing declarer to elope with a low ruff. In effect he is squeezed in that one card, therefore the peculiar name.
The second theme is even more rare. Here, declarer does not play a winner early, knowing it is going to be ruffed. Instead he retains it & plays it, when he is in a position to overruff the defender. Now the defender has the choice of discarding, thereby allowing declarer to score an extra winner & permitting a crossruff or ruffing & permitting suit establishment.
The actual hand came up in the P.S.Reddy tournament conducted in Chennai in 2001. The format of the tournament was a complete round robin - all play all. By the time the last round was played, however , our team was so far ahead of the second placed team, that the last round was inconsequential. This is not to justify the fact that neither declarer came close to making the contract. But for what it's worth, I would certainly subscribe to the view that this format is not ideal to get the best out of the competitors- particularly in the last round !!
Finally, the hand - west dealer, none vul:
The bidding, although not similar at both tables, marked length in the minors with east & heart length with west. On the lead of the diamond jack, declarer reads the cards accurately, winning & playing a club from hand. East wins & plays the diamond queen. South plays small & west enters the realm of theme no.1.If he discards a heart, south has enough entries to set up the suit. For example, east returns a trump (he must to prevent a complete crossruff). Declarer wins on the table, ruffs a heart, ruffs a club, ruffs another heart, ruffs another club, cashes heart ace, & ruffs another heart, establishing the suit & reaching this position:
Declarer now plays the diamond king, welcoming west to theme no.2.
Alternatively, west discards a club when he is "one card squeezed". After a similar continuation, the position reached is:
Declarer again plays the diamond king, & west again enters the realm of theme no.2.In fact
there is a type of one card squeeze operating as well.
This confirms the truth of the old adage- "When in doubt, lead trumps" !! In fact, the contract cannot be made on a trump lead & continuation (please let me know if I'm wrong).
Victor Mollo's view is that these kind of esoteric techniques "won't keep a hummingbird in ant's eggs", & I subscribe to this view. I enjoy these hands, but more as I would enjoy a puzzle, without any real expectation of winning imp's with them. Geza Otlik's view, however is that these hands come up with high frequency, but declarers do not have the technique (or time) to recognise them.