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Bob Hamman’s Hand by Tony Forrester

Source: The Bridge Player’s Bedside Book  By Tony Forrester

Tony Forrester
Tony Forrester

Most World Championship finals are anti-climaxes. The quality of bridge is variable, to say the least, and one or other team often runs away with the match. It is generally accepted that the Olympiad Final of 1980, between France and the United States was the best played ever. Here is how the commentators summed up the performance of the teams:

«This was one of the best played matches in the history of bridge. A team is considered to have played well if they hold their opponents to less than 2 IMPs a board. The Americans held the champions to 1.6 per board, but they lost by 20 IMPs. France held USA to 1.4 IMPs per deal, a truly remarkable performance…They didn’t play perfect bridge in the final, only superb, only excellent. The French are true champions.»

One particular hand stands out in the memory, and we will pose it to you as a lead problem. You are Bob Hamman (USA) sitting East, holding:


This is the auction: aaxx

1) Showing both majors

A lot of action, but can you crown your efforts with the winning lead? To add spice, the correct major suit ace would win the Olympiad whereas the wrong choice would leave the French as Champions. This was how you might have argued… Partner has jumped to 4, and therefore is likely to hold longer spades than hearts. Also, the opponents are usually prepared for the lead of your suit. After due consideration, he went for A.aaxxDeclarer ruffed, drew trumps (guessing that West had length from the auction) and cashed his clubs. France gained 19 IMP when they would have lost 9 if East led A. The difference was more than the margin of victory.



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