Ted's Bridge World Dante's Infernal

The Roving Ace of Trumps

The Wednesday duplicate invariably provides excitement unrelated to normal bidding and play.  But today's deal tested the limits of the bridge universe.

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Opening Lead: SJ

The bidding was not good.  At the least, south should have raised spades at his second turn.  In general, the best approach is to set trumps first, then worry about cuebids.  Additionally, north's 5 call was misinterpreted.  It asked partner to bid 6 with good trumps, meaning at least two top honors.  Had north's holding included the heart ace, she would instead have tried 5NT directly over 2 the time-honored Grand Slam Force convention, requesting south to bid 7 holding two of the top three trump honors.

Amazingly enough, someone actually realized that something was wrong by the time that dummy appeared.  It seems that west was still holding her hand from the previous board!

The director was called; he judged that west was deemed to have held the correct cards throughout the proceedings.  That player was instructed to replace her errant hand with the right one, and play would continue.  "Is it still doubled?" she asked.  "Yep." was the reply.  This was the deal now, with the king of diamonds specified as the opening lead:

*

Declarer ruffed the diamond in dummy, following low from hand.  Nothing yet seemed amiss to any player; but when a trump was led at trick two and east followed with a duplicate three-spot, it was time to summon the director again.  For it seems that the east player also was holding a hand from the previous board!

After restoring order, a valid deal finally was available for play:

*

Imagine east's surprise and delight upon discovering that her own corrected holding included the ace of trumps.  What are the odds against that?

As a heart trick had to be lost, declarer duly went down one.  A spade ruff could have been negotiated as well (and a spade shift was east's correct play), but the defenders' score of +200 was a top anyway.

Today's players would do well to review Ted's Law #WTF-18:

* Never bid a grand slam when both opponents hold the ace of trump!

Life never is dull at Dante's Infernal.

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Note: the Grand Slam Force convention, introduced by Ely Culbertson in his Gold Book in 1936 and used by every good player ever since, is one of only two conventions that never have had to be specified on a convention card.  The other one is the takeout double.

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