Temper optimism; tend to pessimism
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.