Giving yourself the best chance
BY PHILLIP ALDER
Emily Levine, whose first job after graduating from Harvard was dubbing spaghetti westerns in Rome, said, “I was taught to do math and read at the same time. So you’re six years old, you’re reading ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ and it becomes rapidly obvious that there are only two kinds of men in the world: dwarves and Prince Charmings. And the odds are seven-to-one against your finding the prince. That’s why little girls don’t do math.”
Successful bridge players do a lot of math — in particular, tracking everyone’s high-card points. However, when it comes to playing suit combinations, knowing the exact numbers is not often necessary. Just thinking about the different winning layouts probably will push you in the right direction.
In this deal, how should South play in six no-trump after West leads the club queen?
North used the Gerber aceasking convention, just to check that two aces weren’t missing.
South starts with 10 top tricks: two spades, three hearts, three diamonds and two clubs. Declarer needs to win four spade tricks — but how?
Playing the king followed by the ace will work when the suit splits 3-3 or there is a queenjack-doubleton. But starting with low to dummy’s 10 also succeeds if West has jack-doubleton or queen-doubleton. So this must be better.
South wins with his club king and leads a spade to the 10. East takes the trick and returns a club, but when the spade king drops West’s jack, declarer can claim. His odds are just over 61 percent — much better than the mere 39 percent for cashing the ace and king.
Look for the Saturday Bridge and Chess and local Bridge results in the new Saturday Fun & Games section