Ralph Ma of Beijing

Ralph Ma (rma on OKB) has become our very good friend. We adore him. He was given the name "Ralph" by an Anglican Priest/School Teacher during his early years. This name stuck with him since. In any case, it is easier to pronounce, lol. A regular partnership developed on OKB between Ralph and me during the course of 12 months, and the friendship extends to beyond OKB. We exchange souveniers and artefacts (we both love our countries) and it is his turn to reciprocate now.... wonder what I get ?

Ralph is called a "bear" by his friends and he is a freelance agent for musicians - this explains the OKB pic he has (see top right of this page.)

His wife (Di) is the loveliest and sweetest girl in all of Beijing. She has a voice that can thaw ice in a jiffy too. His constant OKB armchair expert, Feifei, his dog, is adorable. (I have pictures)


I have seen Ralph play many hands on OKB worthy of publication. Here is one of them. Enjoy!

OKB,     MPs,    Board 420,     week ending 8th November 1997.

We are playing against two compatriots of mine - Janice East (sweetie) and Adele McGibbon (stevemcg), both from Cape Town.


Dealer: EAST
Vul: BOTH

NORTH
A K Q J 9 8 6
A 5
J 8
10 6
(Hand rotated
for convenience)
  WEST
10 2
J 8 4 2
5 4 3
K J 9 5
EAST
7
Q 9 7 6
Q 10 9 2
8 7 3 2
 
  SOUTH
5 4 3
K 10 3
A K 7 6
A Q 4
 

  WEST
stevemcg
----
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
NORTH
elsid
----
4 *
5 *
7
EAST
sweetie
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
SOUTH
rma
1 NT
4
5
Pass
 

Lead : 2.

Now Ralph is an extraordinary player. Give him a choice between a simple finesse and a squeeze, he would opt for the squeeze each and every time. This is the "expert" way, he says! And much more fun, yes. Anyway, on this hand, Ralph avoided the club finesse as East had two occasions to double the Gerber enquiries for a club lead.

Ralph won the trump lead with the ace and drew another. Sweetie discarded a baby club on this. Ralph now played the diamond tops and ruffed a third, isolating the menace.

Next came a club to the ace (Vienna Coup) and Ralph went back to the table and started reeling off trumps. When the last trump was played, the position was -

  NORTH
8
A 5
---
10
 
  WEST
---
J 8 4
---
K
EAST
---
Q 9 7
Q
---
 
  SOUTH
---
K 10 3
7
---
 

On the last trump East has to hold on to the Q, else declarer makes the 7, and she therefore pitches a heart. South now discards the diamond, having fulfilled its duty, and it is now West that comes into the spotlight. Forced to retain the K, West also pitches a heart. Declarer now makes all his hearts.

Isolating the menace, Vienna Coup, and a double squeeze.
  Expert stuff.     A most gratifying +2210.

Well played, Ralph!!


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