A Geza Ottlik Hand by Jay Becker
On 23 September, 2014 At 12:18
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Kentucky New Era – 11 Jun 1969
North Dealer, Neither Side Vulnerable
| A K 4
9 6 5 3 2
A K 9
| Q 10 7 3
Q J 10
Q J 8 7
| J 9
J 7 5 3
A K 8 7 4
| 8 6 5 2
A K Q 10 4
6 4 3 2
Opening lead: Q
Here is an extraordinary hand. It appears in Spotlight on Carol Play by Robert Darvas and Paul Lukaes a book that illustrates the type of thinking that lies behind good card play.
Declarer was the Hungarian star, Geza Ottlik. The contract was four hearts and West led a diamond. It is not easy to make ten tricks, even with 52 cards on view.
Apparently declarer needs a 3-3 trump break as well as a 3-3 division in one of the black suits in order to establish a tenth trick. It would seem that South can make only five trump tricks and two sets of A-K. But Geza Ottlik scored ten tricks by adopting a highly ingenious line of play that made him a favorite for the contract.
He elected to play for six trump tricks instead of the obvious five, and accomplished his goal in the following manner:
After ruffing the diamond lead, he entered dummy with a spade and ruffed a second diamond. He repeated the operation by returning to dummy with a spade and ruffing a third diamond.
Then he played a club to the king, ruffed another diamond, and continued with a club to the ace to ruff dummy’s last diamond with his last trump.
By this time Geza Ottllik had scored nine tricks, consisting of five ruffs in his hand and both A-Ks in dummy. Dummy still had the 9-8 of hearts left and was bound to score a tenth trick with one of them.
The maneuver described here is known as dummy reversal, and is a form of play which is hard to recognize even under ordinary circumstances. Of course, it is infinitely more difficult to spot when dummy has only two trumps and declarer has five. No other method of play is as promising as this one, nor, in the actual hand, does any other method succeed.
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