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BRIDGE
By: Omar Sharif

December, 1996


As one who has been known to make the odd wager in his time, I am particularly interested in two-way shots. So I would be happy to predict that a player many of you will shortly be hearing about is Fred Gitelman of Canada. At 30, Fred was by far the youngest player in the most recent Bermuda Bowl Final in Beijing, which Canada lost narrowly.

However, his main claim to fame at the moment is that he devises the computer technology for the Vu-graph display that is used at many major events, and he is one of the few people who is successfully putting Bridge on the World Wide Web.

In addition to all of that, Fred is a good journalist in whatever spare time he has left over and, more importantly, he is a pleasant opponent and an excellent teammate.

As a writer, Fred is particularly honest about focusing on his own mistakes and helping us all to learn from them. This was one of the hands he showed me recently, and I think that you will agree that it is a challenging example.

It arose during the trials to select the Canadian National team for the world championships that were held in Rhodes this October, which Gitelman's team won.

After Fred opened the East hand with a strong no-trump, South drove his side to 3, having shown a good hand with a long suit. Fred's partner George Mittelman (Fred and George probably have the most euphonious surnames in Bridge!) led the 2; as they play third and fifth leads, this card promised an odd number of diamonds, so Fred put in the Q as a sort of discovery play, since declarer was known to have two or more diamonds. South took his K and played the K. Mittelman took the A and sensibly shifted to the 2.

Declarer played low from dummy and Fred took the K; what should he do now? The answer is to go back to the previous trick and play the right card if you want to have any chance of beating the contract!

The bidding and play so far strongly indicated that you have three tricks in the minors and one trick in each major - so long as you can keep declarer out of dummy, to stop him taking the heart finesse.

If you win your top clubs, it will be easy for declarer to cross to dummy and take the heart finesse. You must take advantage of declarer's error in not playing a club honour from dummy at his first turn by ducking the first club trick. Declarer will win in hand, and exit with a minor suit.

You win, take your other minor suit winners, and play another spade. Declarer cannot take this in dummy since he has only trumps left in his hand, so he will have to ruff his own trick, which means you will score your heart trick eventually.

If you did not think of ducking a club holding the ace-king, you should be cheered by the thought that neither did Fred until it was too late!

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