BRIDGE

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - PUZZLES - With DOU­GLAS NEW­LANDS

To­day’s hand arose in a re­cent club ses­sion. The auc­tion shown was typ­i­cal. The lead was the 2H and de­clarer’s only prob­lem is to find the QS. There are two ways to deal with this which, in football ver­nac­u­lar, might be called play­ing the man and play­ing the ball. Firstly, let us deal with play­ing the ball. South has six hearts and seven un­known cards which are called ‘ va­cant spa­ces’. North has three hearts and 10 va­cant spa­ces. Any non- heart card is more likely ( 10 to 7) to be with the hand with more va­cant spa­ces. Thus, it is clear to play North to have the spade queen. This form of rea­son­ing, based on length, is much stronger than in­fer­ence based on how many high card points a player might have. You should def­i­nitely not in­fer that South is more likely to have the queen since they bid and should have more points. These play­ers start trumps by lead­ing the JS and watch the re­ac­tions of North and South. If North hes­i­tates, sug­gest­ing they hold the queen, they run the jack. If North doesn’t hes­i­tate, they put up the king and fi­nesse the other way. Even South can get caught by this ploy. If, when the jack is placed on the ta­ble, South pre­ma­turely pulls a card to play to the trick, it can be in­ferred that South does not have the queen. If there is no hes­i­ta­tion or pre­ma­ture pull on the JS, these de­vi­ous play­ers will just hes­i­tate for a very long time wait­ing for the per­son with­out the queen to ask why they are tak­ing so long. Un­for­tu­nately, it is il­le­gal to pro­duce fake hes­i­ta­tions, how­ever short, and early de­tach­ing of cards to de­feat this player. You must sim­ply pro­duce cards at an even tempo so they have noth­ing to go on.

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