Thomas Bessis – selected Fisher-Schwartz hands

Here are some hands collected by Thomas Bessis in the period 2012 – 2014

Fisher – Schwartz : Hands 2012-2014

1) Cavendish Teams 2013

I have tried to find on the Cavendish website those two boards I played against Lotan and Ron in a Team match in Monaco in 2013, but I haven’t been able to. I looked over in the whole 7 matches + the last of the final, I haven’t found the set of boards I was looking for.
Maybe it was in the Monaco patton, as this tournament’s archives are not available on the website, but I really doubt it as I remember there were screens.
Anyway, here were the two hands :

(a) On the first one, Ron Schwartz holds :

H Ax
D KQxx
C xxxx

Let’s say he is West.
Neither vul, the auction goes :
South             West                 North               East
M.Bessis       Schwartz         T. Bessis            Fisher
–                       –                      Pass                  Pass
1H                  X                       Pass                  1S
Pass               Pass                 1NT                    X
Pass               Pass                 XX                      Pass
2C                   X                      2D                      Pass
2H                  Pass                Pass                    X
Pass               Pass                Pass

I have nothing to say about the auction.
What would you lead with his cards ?

Ron Schwartz led the King of diamond.
This was the full deal :


KQx                                                           98xx
Ax                                                              Q107x
KQxx                                                         Ax
xxx                                                            A10xx


The defence started with 2 rounds of diamond, and a low spade from East .
Declarer of course didn’t guess to play low, and the defence was off a great start. Declarer probably could have escaped for down 2 at this point, but it ended up with down 3, -500.

On a top spade lead declarer has basically 7 tricks on Top as long as he decides to run the 9 of Hearts at trick 2, and the defence has to be careful not to let declarer make his contract.

The King of diamond lead in dummy’s known 5-card suit instead of the Kind of spade in partner’s known 4-card suit seems… strange, to say the least.

(b) On the second one, Ron Schwartz again, holds :


I am not 100% sure about the honors, but definitely a 1462 shape with a small singleton spade, good diamonds, and a 10 count.
His partner opens a vulnerable 15-17 NT.

Ron Schwartz bid stayman, his partner bids 2D, and Ron Schwartz… jumped to 3NT.
His partner had KQ10 of spade.

2) Cavendish Teams – Patton of Monaco 2012

This board has been reported me by Giorgio Duboin.
It happened in the match Lavazza-Vytas of the Patton of Monaco – I think it was the Patton, not the Cavendish Teams, but I am not sure.

Lotan Fisher held :


And the auction went :

Fisher                              Schwartz

3C                 Pass            Pass                          Double
Pass             4C                Pass                          4H
Pass             Pass            Pass

What would you lead ?
The Jack of diamonds looked probably too obvious for Lotan Fisher, as he selected a low spade. I don’t know the full deal, but I know that it was the only lead to defeat the contract. His partner had the stiff King of spade and the Ace of Heart, so the defence could take a spade trick, a spade ruff and two Aces.

3) Spingold semifinal 2014

Segment 2. Click on board 20, Closed room

Ron Schwartz is defending 3H after the shown auction and leads a Top club. I am not 100% sure that Antonio Sementa played the 2 of clubs at trick one as shown. Operators often don’t look very carefully at the spot cards. Sure, by dropping the 9, you could sometimes lose a trick if RHO has Jx, but certainly, when the 3 appears on your right, you would like to mix opponent’s signal.
Anyway, the best would be to ask Antonio himself, I am sure he remembers the board as he was the one who reported it to me. He was really surprised by the defence of his opponent.

At trick two Ron Schwartz switched to the King of diamond. He got his ruff, but declarer could then easily ruff two clubs in dummy after this and draw trumps, pitching his losing spade on the 4th diamond in dummy, for +140.

Well to be fair, I would guess – I have no idea though – that most of the top pairs use suit preference signals in this situation, when partner leads a Top honor and there is a singleton in dummy. Although here, when partner bid his suit three times and not being supported once, it might not be smart to play this way, but whatever.

Let’s say they use suit preferences signals in this situation.

Firstly, the 3 of club might be a singleton, or a forced card, as with Q3, or maybe even J3 and you don’t want to give away the position if declarer has Q9x, which is the case here.
Also, and that’s more embarrassing, even when partner HAS the Ace of diamond, it is not always right to get your ruff. Say partner has QJ of spades and the A10xx of diamond…
So, even if you know partner has the Ace of diamonds, it is still not sure it is right to play a diamond.

That is why to me : playing the King of diamond at trick 2 is a non logical play, which can only be explained if you are 100% sure partner has the Ace of diamond.
And it seems hard to me to be 100% sure of anything here.

Segment 2. Click on board 27, Closed room

I have no words to qualify Fisher-Schwartz’s auction.

Until 2H, everything seems normal. For a large majority of good pairs who play natural, this auction shows a 4315 typed-hand with extras, say 14+. I guess some pairs play, as I do, that 2 of the other minor from the opener at this point shows the same typed-hand but weaker, 11-14. It is actually a 2-way bid for me, as it could also show an 18-19 HCP 4324 or 4333 hand, sorry to be french and not rebid 2NT with this ?

Anyway, I have no words to qualify Ron Schwartz’s bid of 3C. Four trumps, A10xx of Hearts and Kx in spades. Really ?
But what about Lotan Fisher’s jump to 5C ? He is likely at this stage to be in a 5-3 fit and have between 20 and 22 HCP combined in his line. What happened ?

Segment 4. Click on board 50, Closed room.

This board is to me one, if not THE most relevant one of all the ones I have seen or heard about Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz.

Ron Schwartz is in defence against 3NT, and leads his partner’s suit, ducked all around, and declarers plays a spade to the Jack, taken with the Ace.
At this point, he can count that declarer has maximum 3 spade tricks and maximum 2 heart tricks. If declarer has all these tricks (which means he has the 9 of spade and AQJ of Heart) AND three diamonds tricks (unlikely though when partner jumped to 2D vulnerable), then nothing can prevent him from making 9 tricks.
If he doesn’t have that, there is no rush either for anything.

The switch of the King of club at this point doesn’t make any sense. It is just not possible to play this card. There is not a single good case of defending this way, and it doesn’t need to be a Top player to realize this.

Segment 4. Click on board 56, Closed room.

This one is almost as amazing as the previous one.
By the way note Schwartz’s 1C opening with 4-3 in the minor. I heard that many many times by friends against whom they played, it seems like whenever they are in the 12-14 balanced range and are 4-3 in the minors, they open their 3-card minor instead of their 4-card one.

So Lotan Fisher is defending 4S after the shown auction, and leads the Queen of clubs, which holds the trick.
At this stage, he knows that partner either has AK or only the King of clubs. In this latter case, declarer has almost certainly three clubs, as otherwise it is hard to imagine why he would duck. Also, declarer wouldn’t have ducked the first round if he was scared of the diamond switch while he could establish hearts. But on the other hand, knowing he already has 5+ spades and 3 clubs, he would only have two diamonds maximum if he had a chance to establish hearts, as that would mean having at least 3 of them. Also note that with a 5233 hand with AK tight of heart, declarer, if he wants to establish hearts, doesnt want to ruff a club in dummy. So he would definitely take the first trick, cash AK of Heart, and go on trumps.

So, all this to say that a diamond switch isn’t actually as attractive as it looks. If it right to play a diamond, it is very likely the same to play a club and wait for our natural tricks.

But the point is : the diamond switch being not as attractive as it looked at first sight, doesn’t make the Jack of Heart look better ! How, at this point, could one ever play the Jack of Heart in this position, looking at 109xxx in dummy ?
What if declarer has a random 5323 or whatever possible hand with AQx or AKx of Heart, in which case the return of the Jack of heart offers him a free trick ?
What if declarer has a hand like AJ8xxx, A8, Ax, Axx, in which case he now has a complete free roll without having to guess the Queen of trumps ?

If you don’t know for sure that your partner has AK of the suit, this switch of the Jack of Heart makes absolutely no sense for a good player.