Shanghai Report

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 10/06/2007
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Image from WBF Daily Bulletins

The on-line coverage of the World Championships from Shanghai (October, 2007) was excellent.  I'd wake up each morning and pour through the deals.

There were wildly entertaining matches and deals. I've selected my three favorites to present here.

1) Third-hand high?

Vul: Both
Dlr: West
?10 2
?Q 6
?Q 5 4 2
?Q 10 9 8 5
?7 6 4
?J 10 9 5 2
?K J 9 8
  ?J 5
?K 8 4 3
?A 10 7 6 3
?6 4
  ?A K Q 9 8 3
?A 7
?A J 7 3 2
Pass Pass Pass 1?*
Pass 1?** Pass 2?
Pass 2NT Pass 3?
Pass 4? Pass 5NT
Pass 7? All Pass  

*Precision (Strong)



The deals were pre-duplicated and played at all tables in all matches (Women's, Seniors, and Open). This deal produced many different contracts from North-South all the way from 4? up to 7? as shown.

Something went wrong in the auction (5NT was meant as the Grand Slam Force, asking for two of the top three honors). North had only one, so seven was reached missing the trump king. At least it wasn't the ace that was missing.

The ?J was led and the ?Q was played from dummy. At all other tables with this start, East played the ?K and declarer won the ?A.

With no fast entry to dummy to take a club finesse, declarer had to lay down the ?A and say a prayer. The prayer was answered when the singleton king dropped, resulting in 13 tricks.

At this table, East was Michelle Brunner of England. She worked out (for the right reason) to play low(!) at trick one and let the ?Q win in dummy!

Declarer, not suspecting anything sneaky (maybe the lead was from ? KJ10), innocently took the club finesse for down one. This brilliant piece of work earned East-West a huge swing.

2) Test Your PlayAdvanced-Expert Level

Another exciting (but more complicated) grand-slam deal was this one:

Vul: Both
Dlr: North
?K 8 3
?A K Q 4 3 2
?10 6
?Q 10
?10 7 4
?J 8 5 3 2
?7 5 4 2
?9 7 6 5
?K 9 7 4
?K J 9 5
  ?A Q 9 6 5 2
?10 8
?A Q
?A 8 3

In one match (China vs. USA1 -- Venice Cup), the Chinese ladies stopped in only 4? at one table. Their counterparts reached 7?. This contract requires decent luck in the trump suit (either 3-2 or a singleton jack). On this layout, the opening lead was crucial. North was declarer and East was on lead. It isn't normal to lead a singleton against seven (you aren't expecting a ruff), but the spade lead would sever communications for declarer.

On any non-spade lead, declarer could win, play the ?A, cross to the ?10, then come back to the ?K to finish drawing trump. At the table, East led a trump, and the rest was easy. Plus 2210 (against 680 in the other room--on a spade lead) gave the USA1 women a 17-IMP gain.

In the Seniors, there was another huge swing. USA1 stopped in 6? at one table, making 1430. At the other table, USA2 reached 7?--a superior contract. The opening lead from West was the ?7 which went to the 10 and ace.

Declarer carefully played a spade to the king (the way to pick up 4-0 with East having all four), then finished drawing trump. The hearts could wait (if they were 3-2 they would always be 3-2). Declarer wisely ran all his trumps, to produce this ending:


Vul: Both
Dlr: North
?A K Q 4 3
?J 8 5
?5 2
?9 7 6 5
?10 8
?A Q
?8 3

Notice that East had to cling to all of his hearts. Now, if hearts come in, declarer still has 13 tricks. He played the ?8 to the ?J and ?A in dummy. The moment of truth had arrived. Declarer played another high heart from dummy and the 4-1 break doomed him.

However, declarer had misplayed. It costs nothing in the diagramed position to play a heart to the ace and then cash the diamond ace. If nothing interesting happens, then try the hearts and claim if they split.

On the actual layout, the diamond play would have brought the king from East (he had no choice but to keep the cards you see above). Then the ?Q would be cashed, squeezing East out of either his ?K or the long heart.

Missing this play swung a whopping 30 IMPs. For down one, declarer lost 17 IMPs. Had he (correctly) made his contract he'd have won 13.

For experts:

One other note about this deal: What if you were South, declaring 7NT? Would you start spades by leading low to the king, guarding against 4-0 with East? NO! It is better to play a high heart first. If no ?J drops, then you can play the ?K and pick up the right 4-0. If the ?J does drop, it is better to abandon 4-0 spades and cross to the ?10, claiming if spades behave. This produces an amazing defensive chance. Say that East was indeed dealt ?J10xx and the ?Jx(x). On the play of the first heart East drops the jack! Now, declarer will use the ?10 to come to his hand and will no longer be able to pick up the 4-0 spades.

3) Hold Your Breath

This was the 96th and final deal of the semifinal matches in Shanghai, 2007. In the USAI (women) versus China, it would decide the match. USAI held a 9-imp lead.

Vul: North South
Dlr: South
?J 10 5
?Q 4 3 2
?6 4 3
?9 6 3
?Q 9 7 4
?J 7 5
?A J 8 2
?7 4
  ?K 8 3 2
?A K 8 6
?K Q 7 5
  ?A 6
?10 9
?10 9
?A K Q J 10 8 2


At one table, the USA E-W pair achieved a great result, scoring 420 in 4?. It would seem that with a 9-IMP lead and +420 in the bank, there was no way to lose. That was until this scary auction unfolded at the other table:

China USA China USA
-- -- -- 1?
Pass Pass Double 3?
Pass 3?! Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Double All Pass


Oh-oh. North was mighty aggressive with her flat 3-count to look for a game. Without a double, all would be well. Once East doubled, all eyes were on West for her opening lead. With a spade lead, declarer would take the first eight tricks and actually do better than the -420 that the Chinese N-S incurred at the other table. No. West led the ?J. Devastating. Declarer ducked in dummy and West played another heart to East's king. Now what? A diamond switch would give the defense the first eight tricks for +1100 and a berth in the final. But no, East switched to spades and declarer gratefully took the ace and cashed out for down one and a 6-IMP gain for USA. The American hearts could start beating again. They went on to the final and won convincingly against Germany to capture the Gold Medal.