Experts also make mistakes IV

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The mistakes of experts are legendary, but none were more inelegant than this hand from the 1956 European Championship match between Italy and France.

By Charles Goren
On 15 June, 2016 At 8:07

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Jaïs, Albarran, Le Dentu,Peeters. 1949
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15 August 3, 1990 By Charles Goren & Omar Sharif

East-West Vulnerable West deals

Opening lead: King of Hearts

The mistakes of experts are legendary, but none were more inelegant than this hand from the 1956 European Championship match between Italy and France. Sitting North-South for Italy were Pietro Forquet and Guglielmo Siniscalco; East-West for France were Roger Trezel and Pierre Jais.

You won’t find out how to bid a hand containing two voids from any textbook. Forquet’s bid of four spades is as good as any, and we can’t quibble with Siniscalco’s decision to look for slam—four no trump was a general inquiry and not Blackwood and six diamonds showed a second suit. We are not sure that we would have gone on to seven spades with Forquet’s holding. Had everyone passed, the contract would surely have gone down a trick because of the bad trump break.

However, Trezel elected to double, and now Forquet would probably have made the contract by taking a first-round finesse of the nine of spades, since the double surely marked the 4-0 spade split. Siniscalco thought East must have a sure trump trick to double seven spades. Since he knew that Forquet had to have first-round heart control, and since the heart suit had been bid only once, he presumed his partner held the ace of hearts, so he ran to seven no trump.

The French doubled again, this time on firmer ground. There was nowhere for North-South to run, and South sat back helplessly as the defenders cashed the first six heart tricks. Italy recovered from this disaster to win the event, and the next year defeated the U.S. to win the world championship.

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