Sud­den strength shows sup­port

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - BY PHILLIP ALDER

Robert Graves, whose most fa­mous work was the historical novel “I, Claudius,” said, “Prose books are the show dogs I breed and sell to sup­port my cat.”

In bridge, sup­port with sup­port is a pol­icy that will give you the where­withal to feed your cat if you play for a stake. Typ­i­cally, this is done by rais­ing part­ner’s suit, but oc­ca­sion­ally it can hap­pen in a more ob­scure man­ner. Look at to­day’s West hand and the auc­tion. North’s one no-trump was forc­ing one round, show­ing 6-12 points. What did West do now? (In Stan­dard Amer­i­can, North would have re­sponded two clubs.)

West could have bid four (or five!) di­a­monds, but he chose an­other op­tion: three hearts. Since West had not in­ter­vened over one spade with two hearts or three hearts, he could not have a good hand with a long suit; he had to have hearts and di­a­monds. It was pos­si­ble that four hearts was East-West’s best con­tract. North scotched that idea by jump­ing to four spades to show three spades with, ini­tially, game-in­vi­ta­tional strength that had been up­graded — a nine-card fit is much bet­ter than eight, and the heart fi­nesse was clearly win­ning.

Af­ter four spades was passed out, how did the de­fense go?

West led the club 10: four, ace, jack. East started to cash the di­a­mond king (king from ace-king af­ter trick one), but re­al­ized that West must have led a sin­gle­ton. So, just in time, East led the club two, a suit­pref­er­ence sig­nal for di­a­monds. West ruffed, put part­ner on lead in di­a­monds and re­ceived a se­cond ruff to de­feat the con­tract.

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