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Is it quick ?

by Bernard Marcoux, Ste-Adèle

 

 

 

 

 

 

  On the Grand Canal, in Venice, Italy, on this beautiful May morning, the vaporetto that you took Piazza San Marco, around 7 A.M., will take roughly 45 minutes to reach the train station.  It is your last tour on the Grand Canal and you want to take in all that beauty.  You have already been to Venice 5 times and you can never leave without a pang of pain: what if I never come back !  To live in Venice for 5 days (the more you go, the longest you stay), explore the little boroughs, buy your fish at the market just behind the Rialto, and then, mainly, walk in Venice at night, when the tourists are gone (you need to sleep in Venice to have that pleasure), arrive on Piazza San Marco around 11h at night, through Piazzale dei Leoni, at the sound of the Quatuor of Cafe Florian, is a unique experience.

 

The vaporetto passes in front of Santa Maria della Salute, the most beautiful church in Venice for you, then in front of the Guggenheim Museum, with his bronze horseman in the garden overlooking the Grand Canal.  The cavalier, naked, is sitting on a horse, his two arms extended, and his penis is in erection, all the time obviously, it is in bronze (do I really have to explain everything?).  The excessively rich Peggy Guggenheim, naughty, had nevertheless thought ahead: the penis is removable!  So, when she would receive archbishops and dignitaries from the Vatican, she would unscrew the ‘’object’’ so as not to shock those austere clergymen.

 

A little further, the vaporetto arrives at San Silvestro Station and, approaching, you notice this young American, frowning, serious, stressed, undoubtedly republican (a little to the right of Gengis Khân, as they say), with a young woman (newlyweds?) and their luggage.  They are not close together, not holding hands, not kissing either.  When the vaporetto stops, the employee opens the gate to let the people out and in, and announces the ultimate station: ‘’Ferrovia’’!

 

The young American doesn't want to get in because the boat is quite full, so he says:

-          Let’s wait for the next one.

His wife, probably already fed up with this disdainful puritan, says:

-          I don’t want to wait, let’s take this one.

And the young American, looking at the operative, has then this extraordinary question, revealing an insurmountable abyss of ignorance and narrow-mindedness:

-          Is it quick ?

 

If you are in a hurry, don’t go to Venice and don’t play bridge.  At bridge, the Is it quick approach is always bad.  If you need 15 minutes to play a hand, take 15 minutes.  The club players will be irritated by your slow tempo (they don’t know Venice), but let them stew (vaporetto… stew, you get it?)

 

You have :

 

AKxx K9x xx K109x

 

UD     Partner 

1        2

2NT       3

3NT       4

4        4

4NT       5

6NT

 ´

 

2 showed a game forcing hand with a club fit and no majors.  4 insists for slam, 4 is kickback KCB and 4 says 0 or 3.  4NT asks for the Queen if 4 said 3.  5 says: I have the trump Queen and the diamond King.  You can now count to 11 tricks, 12 if partner has 6 clubs or a queen somewhere.  As this is matchpoints, you choose 6nt.

The lead is a spade.

 

Dummy

102

A53

AK2

AQJ82

 

You

AK54

K96

75

K1096

 

Only 11 tricks, and you see that 6 clubs is cold.

 

In NT, only 11 tricks and no finesse possible.  Maybe west has led under QJ of spades.  You call for the 10, no luck, East covers with the Queen.  Do you win?  99% of the players, in a hurry, tourists of bridge, would win without thinking.  But you are not like them and you decide to listen to me and think.

 

There are not 100 solutions for a 12th trick, there is only one, a squeeze, this mythological animal that not many players have seen.

 

-          How did he make 3nt against you?

-          He squeezed me.

-          Excuse me!  You know the squeeze now?

-          I don’t know, that’s what he said to his partner: I squeezed her.

-          And you let him do that to you?  In front of his partner?

 

I tell you: some get squeezed and can do nothing about that.  Some others make squeezes and they don’t know it.  Even you, you squeezed me once or twice, but I didn't tell you.  What we don’t know doesn't hurt, used to say my mother.

 

So here it is.  The 1rst condition for a squeeze is the number of winners compared to the number of remaining tricks: you need to have all winners except one.  Here you have 11 tricks, so you need to lose one trick to reduce the number of remaining tricks to 12: that is called rectifying the count.  So why not duck that 1rst trick?  You will have 11 winners and 12 tricks remaining.  Too tough, you say?  Not very tough.

 

East comes back the Queen of hearts and you should suspect he has no more spades.  West probably has 6 spades to the Jack, and East, 4 or 5 hearts QJ10x(x).  At trick 2, you already know a lot of things.  And that’s not all: the moment you will play 2 clubs, you will know for sure everything on opponents’ hands.  After 4 tricks, you will know the distributions all around the table.  Bridge is easy, I think, when you apply yourself.  If you play quickly though (Is it quick?), without looking, you are dead.  Take your time.

 

Should you win this heart Queen in hand or in dummy?  Try to look ahead, like Peggy Guggenheim.  When you will cash dummy’s clubs, with K9 of hearts in your hand, you will just have to watch for East’s J10 of hearts.  So the 2 most important cards in your hand are the 9 of hearts and the… 5 of spades.  These 2 cards will be of no use, except to frighten East/West.

 

So win with the heart Ace in dummy, West playing the 8, and play clubs.  At the 2nd round of clubs, West discards and… you know everything.  Here how probably were the hands at the start:

 

Dummy

102

A53

AK2

AQJ82

West                                                        East

J98763                                                   Q

8x                                                          QJ10xx

?xxx                                                       ?xxx

x                                                            xxx

AK54

K96

75

K1096

 

and we are now here:

 

Dummy

2

43

AK2

QJ8

West                                                        East

J986                                                      --

x                                                           J10xx

?xxx                                                       ?xxx

--                                                          x

AK5

K9

75

K10

 

Now ask yourself this question:  if West has to keep the spades and East the hearts, who will guard the diamonds?  Nobody!  But do you have to count the diamonds as well?  NO!  The diamonds are of no interest, even if it is those diamonds that will give you this contract.  Follow closely.

 

Is it quick?  No.  You have to take your time, first to watch the important cards, and then to enjoy the progression of the squeeze.  At the beginning, the defenders don’t feel nothing and they wonder why you look so closely at their cards (like on the Grand Canal, on this last morning, you admire Palace Barbarigo and his magnificent mosaics, then Ca’Rezzonico; you go under the Rialto, soon on your right you rediscover the Ca’ D’oro where you can see the Venus by Tiziano; then Palace Vendramin-Calergi where Wagner died).

 

The defenders seem puzzled by your manners.  They look at their cards a second time, trying to be funny.  They don’t know that you don’t really look at their cards on the table; you are focusing on the image of their hands in your mind.  After a few cards, the defenders become less ironic, they move on their seat, change positions, they don’t smile anymore, they notice that discarding, which was so easy at the beginning, is getting more and more complicated.

Now play AK of spades, pitching a small heart from dummy.  East can’t follow, so he pitches his last club, then a heart.  No problem yet for East-West.

 

Dummy

--

4

AK2

QJ8

West                                                        East

J9                                                          --

7                                                            J104

?xxx                                                       ?xxx

--                                                           --

You

5

K9

75

K10

 

Now cash your 3 clubs.  On the 2nd and 3rd club, East has to keep J10 of hearts, so he has to discard 2 diamonds.  As you didn't see the J nor the 10 of hearts fall, you discard your now useless 9 of hearts.  Lets see West now: he can let go of a heart, then a spade, but he cannot discard his last master spade, so he discards a diamond.

 

Dummy

--

4

AK2

--

West                                                        East

J                                                            --

                                                             J10

?xx                                                        ?x

--                                                            --

You

5

K

75

--

 

And now the coup de grâce for West: small heart to your King.  He can’t let go of his master spade, so he discards a diamond.  We have now:

 

Dummy

--

--

AK2

--

West                                                        East

J                                                            --

                                                             J

?x                                                          ?x

--                                                           --

You

5

--

75

--

 

Magic, isn’t it?  East and West each have a winner which is useless and you have now 3 diamonds winners without ever having played a diamond.  12 tricks.  The most fascinating thing here is that you never look at the diamonds.

The squeeze is the most exhilarating play in bridge. A squeeze is actually quite easy, it works or it doesn't work.  If it doesn't work, it is not your fault; if it works, it is not because you are brilliant.  A squeeze works by itself, as long as you put in place the measures we have explained.  And you don’t have to be in slam for a squeeze to happen; you cat make a squeeze in 3NT, 2, even 1.

 

When you notice that you are executing a squeeze, especially the first time, slow down and savour this flawless machinery, this infallible logic, and you will know the supreme pleasure in bridge.

To visit Venice, is it quick?  NO.

 

Same at bridge.

 

When you apply yourself, you access another world, you don’t hear nothing, you are a 100% concentrated on what is happening, you are elsewhere and in the present moment, you admire Palace Foscari-Contarini, the San Simeon Piccolo Church and you don’t want to get off the vaporetto…

 

-          Ferrovia !!!

 

The operative announces the train station, the last stop.  The hand is over and you have to leave Venice.  The young American leaves the boat in a hurry, ignorant and narrow, as he was when he arrived.

But you know you have enjoyed the ride to the maximum, you have counted the hearts and the spades, the clubs and the diamonds, you have walked a long time and everywhere, in the morning and in the evening, in the small streets and on the Grand Canal, at all times of day and night

When you will succeed in performing your first squeeze, consciously, you will be so excited that you will start to look for that play in every contract you play.  You will want to experience again this unforgettable extra sensorial state, you will want to go back to Venice and relive this ecstasy, like the horseman in Peggy Guggenheim’s garden.