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Star Performer

Dlr:
East
Vul:
Both
North
♠ A K Q
Q J
K 6 5 4 2
♣ K J 7
South
♠ 9 8
A K 9 5 3 2
J 8
♣ A 4 3
West North East South
Pass 1
Pass 2♣(1) Pass 2(2)
Pass 2(3) Pass 3(4)
Pass 3(4) Pass 3NT(5)
Pass 4NT Pass 5(6)
Pass 6 All Pass

(1) Artificial game force.

(2) Relay.

(3) Asking.

(4) Fair hand, good hearts.

(5) Sets trumps, asks for singleton or void.

(6) Neither.

(7) Zero or three key cards.

Sabine Auken has been a star bridge player for many years. The former U.S. resident once held the record for becoming an ACBL Life Master in the shortest period of time. Although she lives in Denmark, she still plays bridge for her native Germany, as she was doing on this deal against Greece in the World Bridge Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey.

West started with a low spade, taken in dummy. Auken (sitting south) unblocked the hearts, cashed to more spades, discarding a club from hand, crossed to the ♣A and drew the remaining trumps.

Clearly there is no problem if theA or ♣Q is onside, but Auken felt there was a fair chance East might have led the A on the given auction, and it appeared that West was 5-4 in the majors, suggesting any club length would be with East. Auken therefore sought another solution.

She cashed her remaining heart winners, reaching this position:

Dlr:
Vul:
North
♠ —
K
♣ K J
West
♠ —
Q 9
♣ 8
East
♠ —
A 10
♣ Q
South
♠ —
J 8
♣ 4

It was still possible to rely on the club finesse, and East had done well to blank the ♣Q, but Auken was not to be denied, and she crowned a brilliant performance by playing a club to the king to record plus 1430. Note that if East blanks the ♦A, she will be thrown in with it to lead into the club tenace at trick 12.

This type of play is known as a squeeze without the count.

The full deal:

Dlr:
Vul:
North
♠ A K Q
Q J
K 6 5 4 2
♣ K J 7
West
♠ J 10 7 5 3
10 8 7 6
Q 9
♣ 8 5
East
♠ 6 4 2
4
A 10 7 3
♣ Q 10 9 6 2
South
♠ 9 8
A K 9 5 3 2
J 8
♣ A 4 3