Tem­per op­ti­mism; tend to pes­simism

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - GOINGS ON - By PHILLIP ALDER

Gla­dys Bron­wyn Stern, a Bri­tish au­thor and critic who died in 1973, wrote, “Both op­ti­mists and pes­simists con­trib­ute to our so­ci­ety. The op­ti­mist in­vents the air­plane; and the pes­simist, the para­chute.”

A bridge player should be pes­simistic un­less he needs to be lucky to make or break the con­tract. How would that ap­proach help South in this deal? He is in three no-trump, and West leads a fourth-high­est spade two. De­clarer tries dummy’s jack (in the hope that West has led from king-queen-empty-fourth), but East cov­ers with the queen.

South might have re­sponded one heart, but with game-forc­ing val­ues he was right to keep all of the suits in play. Six or seven di­a­monds might have been the best con­tract if North had a mi­nor two-suiter. North’s twoclub re­bid guar­an­teed at least a six- card suit and de­nied a four-card ma­jor. South bid what he hoped he could make.

De­clarer starts with seven top tricks: one spade, two hearts, one di­a­mond and three clubs. Af­ter tak­ing the spade ace on the third round of the suit, the op­ti­mist un­blocks his club king, plays a heart to dummy’s ace, then cashes the club ace and queen. How­ever, when West dis­cards on the third club, the con­tract can no longer be made. Yes, if clubs are 3-3, South wins 10 tricks, but that is against the odds.

The pes­simist sees that he needs only five club win­ners, not six. He over­takes his king with dummy’s ace and cashes the queen, happy to see the jack ap­pear from West. De­clarer drives out the club 10 and claims. Note, though, that he also suc­ceeds if clubs are 3-3, just not with an over­trick.

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