ACBL Unit 539
San Diego

Better Bridge Articles

15-May-1975 Individual Tournament

  QT962
T7
A984
J3

Dlr: North
Vul: None
Lead: 4

753
J94
K762
KT6
84
Q853
T5
AQ952
AKJ
AK62
QJ3
874

West

North

East

South

 

-

-

1N

-

3

-

4

-

-

-

 

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

One event that has virtually disappeared from the tournament bridge scene - and good riddance - is the individual tournament. In this form of competition each contestant plays one hand with each other player at the table, before joining battle on the succeeding round with three other players. And so it goes.

Obviously it is impractical to arrange partnership understandings with so many players in the limited time available for discussion, so bidding systems are kept simple and conventional bids held to a minimum. Any deviation from the standard is perilous. And what is standard these days?

It is understandable why many bridge players shy from entering individual tournaments. Today's hand supports this thesis and demonstrates the anguish of the individual.

The bidding is not recommended. North's call of three spades is marginal. Give partner a doubleton king of spades and a minimum 16 high, card points for a notrump opening and the partnership is likely headed for trouble. For three spades is a game force.

Better is a Stayman call of two clubs requesting a major suit from partner. Over a two-diamond or two-heart reply a two-spade call would do full justice to the North hand, showing five spades and inviting a further bid.

Almost as attractive is a relay of two hearts (playing Jacoby transfers), calling for opener to bid two spades. Now responder completes the picture by bidding two no-trump to reflect a five-card spade suit and a good seven to a bad nine points.

A moment ago we suggested keeping conventional bids in check. Remember this is an individual tournament. So scrap Jacoby and handle Stayman with kid gloves.

Any new suit call by opener over three spades accepts spades as trump, shows a maximum no-trump, an interest in slam, and a feature which is probably an ace. It is 100 per cent forcing. In a practiced partnership this treatment is standard. To attempt a cue bid with a new partner is risky. To do so in an individual tournament is foolhardy. South should settle for four spades at his second turn. Had he done so, however, there would be no story.

West led a low trump hoping to cut down dummy's ruffing power (?). Declarer put up the ten from dummy which held the trick when East decided not to sacrifice his queen.

For want of better South continued with three rounds of spades, East trumping the third lead. A club switch was necessary to hold declarer to 10 tricks but East didn't find it. Instead he made the amazing return of the 10 of diamonds which was covered by the jack, king and ace. Now declarer played his ace and king of trumps.

The queen of diamonds was followed by a low diamond to the eight. With trumps gone declarer was able to jettison his three losing clubs on the two remaining spades and the diamond nine. Four hearts making six!

Proper defense will beat four hearts one trick since South should lose two trump tricks and two clubs. Four spades makes four or five depending upon whether or not declarer works out the diamond situation.

South's perseverance and his ability to mask his displeasure with dummy's bidding produced a top result.


19-Jun-1975 Match-point Pairs

  J8763
A54
KQ972
-

Dlr: South
Vul: None
Lead: 5

AQ9
J73
5
AT9873
-
KQT92
JT843
652
KT542
86
A6
KQJ4

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

1

2

2

2

2

-

3

-

3

-

3

-

3N

-

4

-

-

-

 

 

 

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

Contract bridge has assumed several variant forms since its incubation in the late 1920s. Millions of people play rubber bridge at social get-togethers ("Party bridge") with perhaps small stakes hinging on the outcome. Still others play for large amounts, some striving for their livelihood in this way.

The theory behind rubber bridge is simple - as declarer, make the contract; as defenders, beat it. Match-point pairs, the backbone of tournament bridge, is another matter. Here, where the hands are duplicated and replayed as many as a dozen times, the object is to outscore not the opponents of the moment, but rather all other pairs who will hold the same hands you do. Rubber bridge players find it strange that in duplicate bridge a pair usually doesn't play against its true rivals.

The match-point declarer on occasion will jeopardize a makeable contract to play for an overtrick (anathema to a rubber bridge player). Similarly, a defender may surrender all hope of beating a hand for fear of allowing an overtrick. Since you earn a point for each pair you top and only one-half point for each tie it is imperative to make the most of every hand.

Today's hand illustrates the different approach of each school.

The duplicate declarer may wonder why he didn't reach six spades. He will win the first trick with dummy's queen of diamonds and lead a low spade. If East produces the nine or queen South will cover. If trumps are 2-1 and West's ace of spades is spent on the initial trump lead declarer can virtually claim six. It is an easy matter to set up the dummy hand with no other loser. If diamonds do break badly, a trump finesse for West's club ace will establish two discards for declarer's queen and jack.

When the hand was played South embarked on this course. East showed out on the first trump lead, West won and shifted to a low heart taken by dummy's ace. When West got in with another trump a heart continuation to East's queen enabled West to ruff a diamond return for the setting trick. East-West won three trumps and a heart.

South was not tempted by an alternative line which would have failed also. Superficial analysis suggests winning the first trick in hand and leading the club king. West will cover the first or second high club lead and dummy will ruff. Since declarer has no immediate reentry he is unable to discard dummy's losing hearts.

Was declarer greedy? Only a rubber bridge player would think so.

Instead of racing hungrily after two overtricks the methodical - plodding, perhaps? - rubber enthusiast seeks to secure his contract before looking beyond. His solution is simple - win the ace of diamonds and fire back a diamond. West may ruff but he will never get a heart trick . The losing heart goes on dummy's diamond queen while West trumps again. This declarer racks up a plus score as only three spades are lost.


26-Jun-1975 Trump Coup

  65
Q63
AT74
A652

Dlr: North
Vul: E-W
Lead: 4

AJ43
A
9653
J984
T82
J875
QJ2
Q73
KQ97
KT942
K8
KT

West

North

East

South

 

-

-

1

-

3

-

4

-

-

-

 

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

The maxims we learn as children we must often unlearn as adults. In the words of the immortal bard, it ain't necessarily so. What goes up no longer must come down. Whoever first suggested you can't have your cake and eat it never heard of the trump coup.

This form of end play occurs when a defender's finessable trumps are trapped without a finesse. The occasion arises when there is no entry to take a finesse. Or, more frequently, when there is no trump to lead for a finesse.

The bidding:

The auction was simple. Having passed, North had no convenient call at his second turn. Partner was apt to pass two clubs or two diamonds and any number of no-trump was out of the question with a worthless doubleton spade. Two hearts would be an underbid, so North chose three hearts although he held but three-card support. With a sound opening South eagerly carried on to the heart game.

Other bidding styles are instructive. Advocates of five-card major systems with forcing no-trump responses would have fewer compunctions about raising hearts. The Western Roth-Stone andor Walsh approach might proceed: one heart - on notrump (forcing); two clubs! (forced, since a five-card major is not rebiddable and a reverse to two spades would show a much stronger hand) - three hearts; four hearts. The three-heart bid here is a limit raise, and, following an initial no-trump response, shows 9 to 12 points with trump support and no singletons or voids.

Those that bid this way reserve an immediate jump to three hearts to show the same high card count including a singleton or void. Other five-card major players do not differentiate and would bid three hearts at their first chance.

Another popular approach is the convention known as Flannery. A two-diamond opening by South would show a minimum opening bid of 11 to 15 high-card points with specifically five hearts and four spades. Here, North would invite game in hearts by jumping to three hearts and South with a maximum for his opening would accept, bidding four.

The play:

In the tournament that produced this hand most pairs reached four hearts or three no-trump, although several stopped on three hearts. Hearts is superior for the limit of the hand in no-trump appears to be nine tricks whereas most declarers at hearts made ten tricks. Top score went to the declarer in four hearts who succeeded in making an overtrick.

The difficulty centers on the trump suit. A spade must be lost. How can South ruff two losing spades in dummy yet lead and later draw trumps while losing only one trick? Abra cadabra.

West led the four of clubs to East's queen and South's king. Declarer played a low trump and when West rose with the ace it suggested strongly that it was singleton. The diamond shift was won in dummy and a spade led to the queen and ace. West continued diamonds, declarer winning. The club 10 was led to dummy's ace and a club ruffed.


  -
Q
T
6



J
-
9
9
-
J87
-
-
9
KT
-
-

South cashed the king of spades and trumped a low spade. He reentered the closed hand with a diamond ruff to reach this ending:

The nine of spades was played and trumped with dummy's queen. East had only trumps left so had to underruff. The lead of either of dummy's minor suit cards enabled declarer to complete his coup against East. Declarer simply overruffed and won the last trick with his high trump.


14-Aug-1975 East Hesitation

  A7
JT5
AK874
JT7

Dlr: South
Vul: Both
Lead: 9

962
987
62
96542
J4
AQ642
Q93
Q83
KQT853
K3
JT5
AK

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

1

-

2

-

3

-

4

-

4N

-

5

-

6

-

-

-

 

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

Bridge is not poker. The banter and bluffing that have grown up around the poker table are taboo to the serious bridge player.

The bridge ethic is more attractive. It outlaws, for example, deliberate hesitations which are intended to mislead. Accordingly, most hesitations (and there are many) are inadvertent rather than deliberate.

Gratuitous information given away by an obvious pause is frequently costly to the partnership. However, redress to the nonoffending side is not automatic. He who would take advantage of the information does so at his own risk. One who incurs a poor result as a reward for unusual action will keep the result. At the same time the offender may be penalized.

The auction:

South, declarer at six spades was able to make good use of one such balk to bring home 12 tricks. At his first opportunity to call, East hesitated perceptibly before passing. East's assortment of scattered honors appears enticing but hardly warrants action between two bidders in a forcing sequence. Ignoring East's problem North-South reached the small slam with an aggressive auction.

The play:

West chose a heart lead - East didn't have to bid to suggest it after all - to declarer's delight. East won the ace and returned a low heart to South's king. Trumps were drawn in three leads.

Now declarer took stock. To make the slam it was necessary to eliminate the potential diamond loser. Several options were available. First, the club queen might fall in two leads establishing dummy's jack for a discard. With only five clubs in the North-South hands this was unlikely. Alternatively, a diamond finesse might succeed or the queen drop doubleton.

At this point declarer recalled East's anguish during the auction. Perhaps East actually held all the missing high cards. If so, could he withstand the pressure of a squeeze?


  -
J
A8
J



-
-
-
-
-
Q
Q9
Q
85
-
JT
-

The ace of diamonds was cashed. Nothing. The ace and king of clubs did not produce the queen. South ran trumps to reach this ending (East hand is immaterial):

On the penultimate spade declarer threw the eight of diamonds from dummy. East was forced to discard the nine of diamonds or else set up one of dummy's jacks. Having stripped East of all but his three bare queens, declarer guessed the situation. A diamond to the ace brought down the queen. Declarer reentered his hand by ruffing a jack. The established jack of diamonds won the slam going trick.


20-Nov-1975 Exceptional Discard

  543
J52
KQT94
J4

Dlr: West
Vul: N-S
Lead: 7

J986
KT8764
A63
-
AQ7
3
72
Q1098753
KT2
AQ9
J85
AK62

West

North

East

South

-

-

3

3N

-

-

-

 

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

Look at only the North-South hands in the accompanying diagram. What do you think of South's chances at three no-trump?

It appears the only hope for nine tricks is to bring in the diamond suit. There simply are not sufficient tricks without it. The conclusion you reach is that South must find a doubleton ace of diamonds in either defensive hand.

Now consider all four hands. West's diamond holding is secure. He can duck two leads and effectively isolate dummy's diamond threat. It seems declarer's fate, then, is sealed. The limit of the hand appears to be seven tricks- one spade and two tricks in each of the other suits.

Three no-trump, therefore, looks to be an unlucky contract if not a poor one. Why did North-South get there? East's three club bid, a tactical barricade facing a passed partner, preempted North-South of two levels of bidding. South wasn't about to be talked out of anything so he took the aggressive course and gambled on a no-trump game. A double by South instead would have suggested length and strength outside the club suit and have asked partner to choose a suit. Over three no-trump, North was still free to select a suit contract had he held an unbalanced hand.

Lacking a club, West led from his long heart suit. Declarer won in hand with the queen preserving the jack in dummy. Two rounds of diamonds did not fell the ace but West was saddled with the lead on the third round.

A heart continuation would allow declarer to reach dummy's established diamonds so West switched to a low spade. East won the ace and South made an exceptional play, discarding the ten. East continued with the queen of spades.


  -
J5
T9
J4



J
KT864
-
-
-
-
-
Q98753
-
A9
-
AK62

Declarer took the king and immediately got off lead with the carefully Preserved spade deuce, endplaying West in this denouement:

West cashed his long spade as declarer threw a club from each hand. With the defensive book filled West was forced to lead from his king of hearts enabling declarer to gain access to dummy's diamonds and win the remainder of the tricks.

East cannot alter the result by bailing West out on the third round of spades. (East might, for example, return the seven of spades rather than the queen.) In this case the forced return of a club permits the jack to serve as an entry to dummy's diamonds.

If South falls to drop the ten of spades under the ace, accurate defense will set the hand. East-West must duck the third round of the suit - declarer's lead of the ten. This gives declarer an extra spade and his eighth trick but cuts him off from dummy forever.


22-Jan-1976 Unusual Finesses

  A
T73
K63
KJT765

Dlr: South
Vul: None
Lead: Q

QJT92
Q64
Q875
4
K764
J985
4
9832
853
AK2
AJT92
AQ

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

1

-

2

-

2

-

3

-

4

-

4

-

6

-

-

-

 

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

One of the first bits the neophyte learns is how to finesse, and he takes to it eagerly. The expert, on the other hand, looks for a line of play that offers better odds and falls back on the finesse as a last resort.

A simple finesse will work half the time. If you need one of two finesses to succeed the odds improve to 75 per cent. Such would be your chances if you could afford one loser but not two, say, holding a plain suit of A987 opposite J1065.

Today's hand has a familiar ring. It was played at rubber bridge at the famed Crockfords Club in London as reported in the May, 1973, issue of Bridge World magazine. The hand appeared in an article by Ricardo Maria Argerich of Argentina titled "Unusual Finesses."

You are South, declarer at six diamonds and West opens the queen of spades. The contract is sound requiring you to but to find the queen of trumps.

How would you play? Would you finesse in diamonds, and if so, which way?

The spade lead threatens the loss of a spade trick if, in drawing trumps, a trick must be conceded to the queen. Therefore, care must be taken to give up the trump trick - if indeed necessary - early while dummy retains a diamond to control declarer's spade loser(s).

At the table declarer led a low diamond from dummy at trick two and inserted the nine. West, however, foresaw declarer's problem and ducked smoothly. To win would permit declarer to draw trumps and pitch all his losers on dummy's clubs.

Declarer was not taken in. Although the finesse had succeeded he still was willing to give up a trick to the queen. Therefore, he led the ten of diamonds and passed it when West followed low. When the ten held it was a simple matter to draw trumps and claim all the tricks.

South was rewarded for his skill. Had West paused perceptibly before ducking the diamond offering declarer would have known to repeat the finesse the other way. But West did not hesitate. Declarer, of course, fully expected the second finesse to lose.

West's defense was proper. Against a less astute declarer the duck would have beaten the slam. When the first finesse succeeds and West follows to the second lead most declarers, in their greed, would go up with dummy's king Now there is no way to save the slam. The defenders must win at least one spade trick and the queen of diamonds. Which way to finesse? Both ways of course.


19-Feb-1976 Morton's Fork

  A84
KQ975
AT
K96

Dlr: West
Vul: E-W
Lead: K

Q95
T
KQ984
AJT3
JT3
-
J76532
7542
K762
AJ86432
-
Q8

West

North

East

South

1

X

5

6

-

-

-

 

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

John Morton, English prelate and statesman lives in bridge lore though he anteceded the game by some four and a half centuries. A supporter of the Lancastrian party during the War of the Roses, Morton became Henry VII's principal counselor when that first Tudor monarch ascended the throne. Within a period of seven years, Morton was made archbishop of Canterbury, lord chancellor and finally cardinal.

Morton habitually extracted money from wealthy London merchants for King Henry's coffers. His argument was forceful - if the merchants lived ostentatiously, they obviously possessed sufficient income to spare some for the king. If, on the other hand, the merchants lived frugally, they must have substantial savings and could therefore afford to contribute to the treasury. Either way the victims were impaled on "Morton's Fork."

A version of this coup - from which there is no escape - was presented here several weeks ago. Here is another, with South playing at six hearts.

West leads the king of diamonds and declarer considers two losers, a club and a spade. A discard at the first trick cannot benefit South so he plays low from dummy and ruffs in hand. The outstanding trump is drawn and judging West to hold the ace of clubs for his opening bid, declarer leads a low club toward dummy.

West must duck. Were he to win the ace, South would cash the queen of clubs on gaining the lead and subsequently discard his two low spades, one on the king of clubs and the other on the diamond ace. Only one club would be lost.

When West ducks the first club lead, declarer wins dummy's king and then discards his queen of clubs on the ace of diamonds. Again the slam is claimed, South giving up a spade trick instead.

West's opening bid is declarer's key to success. Had the opening bid come from East, declarer would work the same coup against that defender. The initial low club lead would be made from dummy and East's threat neutralized in the same fashion.

On hands such as this the defense is at the mercy of a competent declarer. Hindsight suggests that neither defender indicates who holds the ace of clubs. Declarer might then go wrong.

However, it is the rare bridge player indeed who, when given the choice of passing or bidding, chooses the former. At least the bridge player's fate is in his mouth. Poor Cardinal Morton's oppressed were doomed by their life-styles.


20-May-1976 H. T. Webster

  T92
T73
954
AQT9

Dlr: South
Vul: E-W
Lead: K

6
A52
AKT8632
84
843
KJ94
7
765432
AKQJ75
Q86
QJ
KJ

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

1

2

2

-

3

X

-

-

-

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

H. T. Webster provided humor to a generation with his syndicated cartoons. Although best known for his creation of Casper Milquetoast, "The Timid Soul, '' he is particularly remembered in the bridge world. Webster took great pleasure in exposing the foibles of bridge players at a time when Ely Culbertson had made the game front page news.

Webster's merciless pen flayed the hapless, the poor creature who perpetrated such atrocities as removing partner's business double or trumping his ace. And they were laughed at. In the early days of contract bridge such actions were regarded as the height of ineptitude and a proof of stupidity.

Charles H. Goren first achieved international renown well into the Webster era. Goren, a master teacher, created a whole new reading public for Webster's humor. In fact, Goren is responsible, more than any other, for bridge's popularity today.

Then along came the diagrammed hand giving Goren an opportunity to flaunt a cardinal rule. He gave the bridge community something to think about.

Goren held the East hand. West's double was primarily for takeout. It was a poor choice opposite a passing partner, but these were earlier days and bidding was erratic. In our enlightened time a double would show perhaps 0-3-6-4 distribution with high cards in all three suits.

Goren's pass of the double was also speculative, and as it turned out, the correct choice since four diamonds goes down one trick.

When West led the king and ace of diamonds Goren realized that three heart tricks probably would be needed to defeat the hand, so he trumped partner's ace and found the only killing return, the jack of hearts. Now the defense could not be kept from winning five tricks.

The switch was imperative and it had to come from East. Had West held the ace of spades (unlikely) or the king of clubs, rather than the ace of hearts, there was no way to beat the hand. Indeed, West held little enough.

Goren's ruff and heart shift was in no way risky. Had West begun with four hearts and six diamonds he would switch back to diamonds after winning the ace of hearts. East would ruff again and cash the king of hearts for the setting trick.


2-Mar-1978 Crisscross Squeeze

  632
532
AJ
Q8643

Dlr: West
Vul: N-S
Lead: 9

98
6
KT98762
KT7
AK754
974
4
J952
QJT
AKQJT8
Q53
A

West

North

East

South

3

-

-

4

-

-

-

 

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

Jan Wohlin of Stockholm provides International Bridge Press Association members with bridge hands for unrestricted use. After a lapse of several months four puzzlers appeared in the January IBPA Bulletin. Here is one on the right.

Having preempted in diamonds West chose a spade lead against four hearts. East took the first two tricks and gave him a ruff. Declarer won a diamond return in dummy with the jack and drew trumps. When East turned up with three hearts South gave up the idea of trying to ruff his queen of diamonds in dummy. Certainly East, in the bidding, could not hold three diamonds.

Declarer ran all his trumps. Now, many players treat trumps as a security blanket. They fear releasing control in the form of their last trump. Yet it is this card that often exerts the pressure that cracks the defense. South had no such fear.


  -
-
A
Q86



-
-
KT
KT
-
-
-
J952
-
8
Q5
A

Here is the position at the moment he cashed the eight of hearts.

West bad no safe discard. If be let go a club declarer would cash the ace, enter dummy with the ace of diamonds and claim the queen of clubs as his tenth trick.

Throwing a diamond would not help. Now the ace of diamonds is cashed first and the closed hand regained with the ace of clubs to score the queen of diamonds.

Declarer had executed a crisscross squeeze after forcing West to commit himself. West could have destroyed this at trick four by shifting to a club rather than a diamond, knocking out declarer's entry, but it would have availed him naught.


  -
-
AJ
Q86



-
-
KT9
KT
5
-
4
952
-
T8
Q53
-

South would still run trumps and reach this five-card ending:

Now West is caught a trick earlier when South leads the ten of hearts. If he parts with a diamond declarer finesses the jack of diamonds, cashes the ace and ruffs a club to reach the good queen of diamonds.

Letting go a club instead enables South to set up dummy's queen by ruffing after a successful diamond finesse.

Either way - crisscross squeeze or trump squeeze - West is helpless.


12-Jul-1978 Declarer's Complaint

  KT62
Q
QJ653
QT4

Dlr: South
Vul: Both
Lead: 2

854
T8642
9
9762
AJ9
K753
AT84
85
Q73
AJ9
K72
AKJ3

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

1N

-

2

-

2

-

3N

-

-

-

 

 

 

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

Seeking solace the aggrieved declarer cries out, "There's no way I could have made that contract."

A less-than-compassionate partner; having witnessed the dismemberment, agrees. "You are right. There is no way YOU could have made it."

Familiar? Declarer's complaint - certainly. Most partners are more circumspect however, and resigned to not overturning the cart, if not hopeful of righting it, leave their sentiment unspoken.

Select the seat you occupy accordingly. If you are the better player or given to critical outbursts, sit South. Put partner where he can do less damage - make him dummy.

If you are unlucky by all means sit North. Declarers always complain of their poor luck.

Look at yet another declarer gone astray.

For want of· better West began with a low heart striking South's weakest suit holding. East's king forced the ace. Assured of six tricks in hearts and clubs and seeing no danger, declarer went after diamonds, leading low to the jack. East won and returned a low heart. South tried the nine but this lost and another heart removed his last stopper.

The king of diamonds brought further bad news. When West showed out South had to pin his remaining hopes on East holding the ace of spades and no more hearts. Since this was not the layout, and East grabbed the first spade lead, the contract was down one.

East can hurt declarer by an early heart play but West cannot. Therefore, East must be kept off lead. At trick two declarer must enter dummy with the ten of clubs and lead a low diamond. East is forced to duck (or give up four diamond tricks) and the king wins. Dummy is regained with the club queen and now a low spade is led. Once again East must play low. On winning the queen South shifts back to diamonds and comes to nine tricks despite the 4-1 division.

Should West turn up with either missing ace he can do no immediate damage and South gains the tempo he requires to make his game.


9-Jan-1980 Grand National Pairs District Playoff

  AT962
53
72
KJ65

Dlr: North
Vul: N-S
Lead: 5

KQ87
J92
K94
T72
J3
AK864
QT8
Q43
54
QT7
AJ653
A98

West

North

East

South

 

-

1

-

1

-

1N

-

2

-

-

-

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

Here is perhaps the most interesting hand from two sessions of play in the Southern California Grand National Pairs district playoff.

Though blessed with 21 of the 40 high-card points and the dominant suit, east-west were not destined for a plus score. At one table the bidding went as shown.

West "stole" North's suit with his first response and his partner became declarer, North wondering whether he had been psyched out of the auction. He was, in a small way, but the result left him no room for complaint.

South began with the five of spades. North permitting declarer's jack to win. After drawing two high trumps, East put North on play with a second spade. North could see a sure discard coming on dummy's king of spades since he was not looking at the ace of diamonds. Whether partner or declarer held it, the king was a certain entry to dummy.

His only hope, therefore, was to score quick tricks in clubs. Normal defense, however, would not prevail since East would duck a low club to dummy, with the ten limiting North-South to two tricks in the suit.

North saw one ray of hope. He shifted to the jack of clubs and, on the actual lie of the cards, earned three tricks in the suit, declarer having no counter. The diamond ace then became the setting trick, worth 25½ of 38 matchpoints for the defense.

North, of course, was fortunate to find partner with precisely the ace, nine, eight, but years of hoping for the best finally paid off.

One North player earned an even better score by opening with a weak two spades in first seat. Lest you think this reckless, be advised that the bid promised eight to 11 high-card points, a five or six-card suit, and two or three-card support for the other major. The understanding reduces the risk a bit.

North was allowed to play there and East had a terrible time. First, he was convinced that lie had been bamboozled in the auction and then he had problems defending. · After cashing a high heart he realized a shift was mandatory. Unfortunately, he switched to a club, blowing the suit and the defense. The contract was made after declarer knocked out East's other heart honor. He lost, in all, two hearts and three spades, but earned 110 points, an even better result than setting the opponents a trick.


5-Mar-1980 The Pendulum Swings

  765
8643
K97
A52

Dlr: South
Vul: Both
Lead: Q

9
QJT
J652
J9874
JT83
K9752
T84
T
AKQ42
A
AQ3
KQ63

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

2

-

2

-

2

-

2N

-

3

-

3

-

4

-

5

-

6

-

-

-

 

Click here to see the original article in PDF format.

By ROBERT D. ROSENBLUM

Copley News Service

The pendulum swings.

In business terminology we convey a sense of urgency compactly, tersely, yet inoffensively thus: "Time is of the essence. Presto! Do not dawdle. We need it now."

In the theater the essence is in the timing. The mot brilliant piece falls flat when the pace is wrong. Chekhov cannot be rushed, nor O'Neill. Comedy, however artless it appears, requires precision, a lively flow.

At the bridge table, proper timing is equally essential. The pendulum swings. Handled exactly, in correct sequence - success; improperly - failure.

Sometimes the timing necessary involves only a single move. On occasion three or four plays must be made in consecution to achieve the desired goal.

Here is an example of a simple sequence:

North-South bid smartly to a good slam. Moreover, they did well to bid it in spades rather than no-trump for the suit slam has extra chances.

West had a natural lead, an unbid suit to boot, and so began with the queen of hearts, East signaling encouragement with the seven. Declarer had no foreboding and wondered whether he had missed a grand slam.

Two rounds of high trumps reassured him as West showed out on the second, uncovering a trump loser. He continued with two more, West discarding a club, a diamond and a heart. East won the jack of spades and returned a low heart, South ruffing. There was no way to avoid the loss of a club, however, and declarer had to admit defeat at the last trick.

Having suggested a club suit in the auction, South could not expect either defender to unguard it, holding four or more. Of course, the suit might lay 3-3 but that only happens for the opponents not for you and me.

A better plan was available.

After West failed to follow to the second spade, South must enter dummy with the club ace to lead another club. East cannot gain by ruffing for now South comes to five spades, the ace of hearts and six minor suit tricks, so he discards a heart. Declarer wins and reenters dummy to lead a third club. Since the scenario has not changed in two leads, South wins this, then ruffs his fourth club with dummy's last trump.

Whether or not East overruffs the end result is the same for declarer gains an extra trump trick in either case. Six no-trump does not stand against a heart lead and a 4-1 spade division; six spades does if the timing is right.


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