Saturday, February 4, 2012

Step it up

When I was an advancing bridge player, books by Terrence Reese were eye-openers for me. Master Play was one of my favorites. In it, Reese wrote about a maneuver called a Stepping Stone Squeeze where declarer has a certain number of winners, but can't score them all because of blocked transportation. He uses an opponent to help him get from one hand to another, hence the name.

Playing on BBO last night, I picked up:
K J Q 10 9 8 3 2 Q J 3 Q 8.

Influenced by my good heart spots, I opened a light 1, my left-hand opponent doubled and I eventually became the declarer in 3NT. West led a low diamond, and this was my dummy:

I played low and was disappointed when the finesse lost to East's K. He returned a diamond, and I won in hand to advance the Q. West won with the ace and shifted to the 2. I won with the jack and led another club. West took his king this time and exited with the 6 to dummy's ace.

At this point I could take my club tricks, but spades rated to be divided 4-2. I couldn't unblock the king and get back to dummy and the suit, therefore, wasn't likely to run. On the fifth club, however, West discarded the 7, and I saw my chance.

With four cards left, I led a spade to my king and exited with a heart. West won the ace and had to lead to dummy's good spades. Here are all four hands:

Do you see where West erred? He needed to discard his A instead of the 7. I wonder if West has heard of the song by the Monkees: "(I'm not your) Steppin' Stone"?

Even though the deal was flawed (the defense could always cash one diamond, two clubs and two hearts), I enjoyed it. Afterwards, my partner and friend, Kate, sent me a chat box message: "You got lucky on that one."

What is a stepping stone? According to the Merriam Webster dictionary:
1. a stone on which to step (as in crossing a stream)
2. a means of progress or advancement


  1. Hi MOJO! Re your comment on Ocala DP: I probably took that picture because my mind was subconsciously telling me that people my age need a nice place to sit and rest! :-)

  2. Hi Mojo

    Wasn't Terrence Reese the guy accused in a bridge playing scandal back in the 70s or something? I seem to remember that proving once again I am no spring chicken

  3. @Neophyte: You have a good memory. It might have even been back in the 60s.

  4. Thanks Mojo, now ask me what I had for lunch on Thursday. If memory serves me right, I read a book about it by Alan Truscott? in the early 80s back when I played bridge everyday (before marriage, kids, etc). It was a fascinating read.

  5. I've forgotten when the original came out, but the book was republished a couple of years ago. The name is The Great Bridge Scancal.

  6. I'm gonna have to see if I can add that to my ereader. Wish I had known you were coming down this way. If you ever get over to the Tampa area let me know as I'd love to meet you sometime.

  7. @Neophyte: This was a family thing (sister and mom), but I'd love to meet you, too. Fun to put a face with a name/blog.