magazine turns 80 this month. It was founded by Ely Culbertson in New York in 1929. He hoped it would be popular on newsstands but it quickly evolved into a magazine for better than average players and a sounding board for new theories. It is still the highest authority on many aspects of the game, such as the laws.
But it suffers from the American bridge malaise of living in the past. To us foreigners, it makes as much sense to start bidding diagrams with South instead of West as it does for the American Contract Bridge League to outlaw all bidding conventions that do not get the nod from its ageing aristocracy.
Owner and editor Jeff Rubens recently compared the best players of today with those of the 1940s and 50s. He found that a random group of today’s subscribers would beat the world’s best of that time. That says a lot about how the game has progressed. It also gives you an idea of the standard of his subscribers.
Deal one comes from It is a good illustration of how you should count as a defender.
As West, you lead the king of hearts against six spades. The declarer takes the ace, draws trumps and eliminates the diamonds. He then exits with the 10 of hearts to your queen.
The play of such a high card would give you the impression that this is the declarer’s last heart. You therefore might feel inclined to switch to a club for fear that the declarer would trump a heart in dummy while pitching a club from hand. But a little counting shows that this fear is unwarranted.
The declarer is known to hold six spades West — Pass All pass North — 3 East — pass South 1 6 and two diamonds. If he has only two hearts he must have three clubs, so it is always safe to exit with a heart. As you can see from the diagram, the declarer was up to no good and a club switch would be fatal.
Deal two shows the evils of making yourself void. West led a low diamond against three no-trumps. East won with the king and shifted to a spade to the jack, queen and king. The declarer now had nine tricks. The challenge was to make 10.
The declarer started with the queen and jack of clubs. On the second club, West made the mistake of discarding his singleton heart. Now when the declarer played a heart, the whole hand was known. East had five hearts, five clubs, two spades and a diamond. The declarer simply cashed the spades and the other top heart before putting East on play with a heart. The enforced club return into the
A K-9 in dummy conceded the overtrick. Without the revealing heart discard from West, the declarer had no clear reason to adopt this successful line. Paul Marston