1812 - Eighteen Twelve

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 02/01/2011
Level: General Interest

I suppose "1812" has many famous connotations in history, but for this bridge deal, the meaning is bizarre. In the Round of 64 at the 2010 World Championships, there were swings of 18,17,16,15,14,13 and 12 IMPs all on this board!

Records aren't kept, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is the first time a deal produced a swing to cover every single possibility from 18 to 12 on the IMP scale.  This is what the deal looked like:


Vul: N-S
Dir: South
?7 4
?A 5 4 3
?K J 8 5 4 3
?A J 9 6 5 2
?K 2
?A J 4 2
  ?K Q 10 8 3
?10 8 6
?Q 10 6 2
  ? --
?Q J 9 7
?A 9
?K Q 9 8 6 5 3

At most tables, the first round of bidding was probably as shown below:

 1?  X 4?  ??

What should South do? The choices seem to be 5? or 5?, but maybe 4NT ("takeout") is more flexible. In that case 4NT would beget 5? from North and N-S would play in 5?. When South goes to 5?, West might be tempted to bid 5?.

How would West do in 5?? North leads his singleton club and declarer does best to play a diamond right away. If North falls from grace and rises with his ?K, the contract will be made (declarer can later throw a heart on the ?Q because the ?A will ruff out). If the defense doesn't err, 5? is down one. You will notice on the scoresheet that 5? (usually doubled, once redoubled!) was defeated every time except at table 8.

More interesting is the play for South in either 5? or 5? (doubled). Incidentally, have you ever seen the final contract doubled at so many tables? Out of 64 plays, the final contract was doubled (or redoubled) on 53 of them!

Against 5?X, the defense leads spades. Declarer knocks out a high club and the spade attack continues. Declarer knocks out the other high club and gets tapped a third time. After he draws trump, he has none left. He must play on a red suit without losing the lead. As you can see, if he crosses in diamonds and runs the ?Q (and later guesses hearts), he can take 11 tricks for +750 (recorded at many tables). If instead he works on diamonds...disaster! Notice all the big numbers such as 800,1100 and even 1700. That's down 3, 4 and 6!

A heart contract is much more complex. The defense can always prevail (double dummy), but as you can see in the scoresheet, three tables made their contract.

Unfortunately, we can see only the final contract and opening lead (and result). It would be fascinating to study the bid-by-bid and play-by-play records on this incredible deal.


Updated: December 2020