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Great Plays - Great Moments!

Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:50 pm
by Joe Andrews

The Kohinoor Hand

This is a wonderful hand -- a true "jewel." It was played many years ago at a local Boston area Hearts Tournament. Richard Freedman (an ACBL Life Master) was sitting South, and demonstrated his Bridge expertise. The endplay is common in the game of Bridge, especially since there is a "dummy" hand. In Hearts, it is very rare, because you are playing as an individual, and the timing of a hand cannot always be calculated accurately. This example is probably unique, as the attempt to make a Slam ("Moon") is dependent on precise play and distribution of three suits. Freedman's absolutely perfect "read" of the West hand, and beautiful technique is what makes this hand so special.

(New game -- After Left Hand Pass is completed) Here is the layout:


Spades - A K Q 8
Hearts - 10 3
Diamonds - K 5 4 3
Clubs - K 9 4


Spades - 7 2
Hearts - J 8 7 6 4
Diamonds - Q 9 8 6
Clubs - 5 2


Spades - J 9 6 4 3
Hearts - 5 2
Diamonds - 7
Clubs - A 10 8 6 3

South (Freedman)

Spades - 10 5
Hearts - A K Q 9
Diamonds - A J 10 2
Clubs - Q J 7

It was the first hand of a match, and South (Freedman) had passed the Jack of Hearts, and the Queen-Nine of Diamonds to West. He was greatly surprised to receive the Ace-King of Hearts and Queen of Clubs from East. "Shooting the Moon" was a very remote possibility unless the Hearts were breaking 4-3-3-3, and the other suits were distributed favorably, as well. The minor (Club and Diamond) suits were quite weak, and an early Heart discard would be disastrous, as the A-K-Q-9 of Hearts were a sure bet for bushels of points! Undaunted by all of this analysis, South decided to embark on a very ambitious journey.

The Deuce of Clubs lead was taken by the Ace, as North dropped the Nine, and South carefully inserted the Seven. East, with aspirations of smoking out the Spade Queen, started the suit with the lead of the (Spade) Three. The Ten and Seven were played, and North was in with the Ace. After a brief pause, the Diamond King was led (clearing the Clubs was better -- but North was anxious to attack the Diamond Deuce). East tossed his lone Seven, and South carefully played the Ten, as West unloaded the Queen. Now the Diamond Five was the natural continuation, and it drew the discard of the Club Ten, South's Ace, and West's Nine. South proceeded with his last Spade, and North immediately played the King after West played a low spot. (East threw the Four).

The King of Clubs drew the Eight, Queen and West's lone Five. Now the Club Four cleared North's suit, and the Six was covered with the Jack. West, who had lots of Hearts, thought that he could release one of his middle spots (the Eight), and still have a guarded suit. While this analysis was logical, it was also faulty -- as the Diamond suit needed to be shortened. Then again, had he tossed a Diamond, there would be no story, as the timing of the hand is shattered. Besides, West could not resist the Heart discard!

South, with a bit of flair and serendipity (and perhaps prayer), now cashed the Ace-King of Hearts, and was thrilled to see that everyone had followed. Of great interest was the fall of the Deuce and Three (suggesting strongly that North and East were now void). If that was the case, there was only one more hurdle. The crossroads had been reached (West had saved the Jack-Seven of Hearts):


Spades - Q 8
Diamonds - 4 3


Hearts - J 7
Diamonds - 8 6


Spades - J 9 6
Clubs - 3

South (Freedman)

Hearts - Q 9
Diamonds - J 2

The Diamond Jack was cashed, as the Eight, Four, and East's last Club appeared. Now we can see why West's errant Heart discard created this ending. Then again, in the heat of battle, some plays are made which seem to be quite correct at the time.

The Diamond two found West's Six, as North helplessly followed suit (East's hand was immaterial). West was endplayed, and had to play from his Jack-Seven of Hearts into the Queen-Nine. Thus the Slam was made, and another "gem" of a hand was recorded for posterity!

A "Bridge - like" play by a great card game Master!