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The Art of Ducking

by Bernard Marcoux, Montreal

 

A bridge table is always a small theatre where we can see characters of all sorts. 

 

North-South or East-West, you see go by... the Happy one, the Aggressive, the Nervous, the Arrogant, the Professor,

 etc.  And then there is the Expert: the-one-who-once-was-an-expert; the-one-who-wants-you-to-think-he's-an-

expert; the-one-whom-everybody-thinks-he's-an-expert, etc.  There is also the Beginner:  the-one-who-apologises-

for-being-a-Beginner; the one-who-wants-you-to-think-he's-still-a-Beginner; the-one-who-still-plays-with-the-

beginners-because-he-doesn't-send-his-points-to-the-ACBL, etc.

 

At the local club, one night, you might see these three characters:

 

The first one, West, has been a good player but now he is only is an Expert-who-is-always-right; he always find

 profound reasoning to justify his mistakes.

 

His partner, East, once had great ambitions but all she has left now is pretension.

 

Between the so-called Expert and the Pretentious, no pair is possible, they just want to be clever.  She is not as

strong as he is, but she would never admit it.  On defence, she questions, discusses, gets annoyed, cries out; he

makes faces, doesn't answer, avoids discussion, etc.  They have something in common though: they know the art

of ducking.

 

This art seems to distinguish the expert from the ordinary player.  To duck is an art, it is the last word in bridge.

North

KJx

QJx

AQ10xx

xx

West                                                                           East

Axxx                                                                         xx

xxx                                                                            Axxx

xx                                                                              Jxx

AKQx                                                                       98xx

South

Qxxx

Kxx

Kxx

Jxx

 

The bidding:  North                           South

 1                         1

 2                         2NT(!)

 

 3NT

Lead:  Ace of

 

Sitting South we have a Beginner.  Well, that's what the Expert and the Pretentious think of her and they don't even

 say hello:  they already duck.

 

The Beginner's bidding is, to say the least, aggressive.  A quick look at dummy shows five winners; a second look tells

 her she has 6 losers: 4 clubs and the 2 major aces.  Well ,  anyway , she_tells_herself , let ' s_go ,

my_opponents_look_so_nice.

 

On the Ace of clubs, the Pretentious puts the 8; the Expert then plays the King of clubs, 9 from his partner.  Here, the

Expert makes his first deep play: he ducks a club.  Declarer takes the Jack of clubs and plays a small spade: the

Expert, who was not born yesterday, ducks and the King wins.   Life_is_so_beautiful ,

people_are_so_understanding ,  rejoices_the_Beginner.__I ' m_up_to_seven_tricks. Now she lays a small trap, so

small, childish:  she plays Queen of hearts from dummy: the Pretentious, all at showing her superiority, ducks:  8

tricks.

 

The Beginner, starting to feel respect for those altruistic souls, thinks: she has ducked once, she may duck twice. 

 

 Jack of hearts from dummy:  the Pretentious, keeping her cool . . . and her Ace of hearts,  ducks again.  To duck

 once was already a superior play, but what can you say about the second duck?

 

 Good_heavens ,  reflects_the_Beginner , there_are_no_aces_in_this_game. Declarer is starting to wonder what is

 happening, it seems there are no aces in this deck.  She even thinks of calling the Director.  We can see that she

 doesn't understand the expert's play:  To play your Aces, how vulgar! would have said the Pretentious.

 

But now, the Beginner, having received four tricks by gracious ducks, and before calling the director, becomes really

 vulgar and cashes 5 diamond tricks: 9 tricks and a cold TOP.

 

The last two tricks produce spectacular collisions between the Ace of , the Ace of , the Queen of , the Expert

 and the Pretentious, all in front of the Beginner who is still asking herself where are all those Aces everyone told her

 existed.  We can see that she really doesn't understand the deepness of the expert's play because who in the world

 can reduce 6 winners to 4?

 

 Did_I_make_a_squeeze?  

 

-          Did I make a squeeze? she asks, dazzled.

 

-          They did it themselves, answers her partner. You have combined here many techniques: at bridge, there is the simple squeeze, the double squeeze and the triple squeeze; there is also the strip-squeeze (No, dear, it's not what you think.).  There is also the ordinary dummy, the dummy reversal and the double dummy.  Here you made a triple dummy plus an auto-squeeze by East-West, all of which was expressed by Jean de la Fontaine, a long time ago, when he said:  The dum(m)est of the three is not the one you think.  the_dummiest_of_the_three_is_not_the_one_you_think.