BRIDGE

Business Day - - THE BOTTOM LINE - Steve Becker

. A pass is gen­er­ally re­garded as a sign of weak­ness, but there are times when it can be used to mask an ul­te­rior pur­pose.

For a strik­ing ex­am­ple of the lethal power of a strate­gic pass, con­sider this deal fea­tur­ing Peter We­ich­sel, for many years one of the world's top play­ers.

We­ich­sel, North, over­called West’s club bid with one di­a­mond. East then bid one heart, and South barged in with two spades, a weak bid as played by We­ich­sel and his part­ner. But af­ter West next bid three hearts, We­ich­sel passed!

He knew, of course, that he had the val­ues for a three- or four-spade bid, but he felt con­fi­dent that East would not drop the bid­ding be­fore game was reached.

As ex­pected, East did con­tinue on to four hearts -though af­ter a lengthy pause dur­ing which We­ich­sel no doubt died a thou­sand deaths — and We­ich­sel be­lat­edly bid four spades. This rolled around to West, who thought that North was sacri­fic­ing, so he dou­bled.

This turned out to be a dis­as­trous de­ci­sion when de­clarer made the con­tract with two over­tricks, los­ing only a di­a­mond.

As a re­sult, North-South scored a tidy 1,190 points, di­rectly at­trib­ut­able to We­ich­sel ’ s well-judged sec­ond-round pass.

It is true that the pass of three hearts would have turned sour had East been suf­fi­ciently in­spired to pass also, but We­ich­sel had the courage to back his con­vic­tion that East would bid. His judg­ment was am­ply re­warded when ev­ery­thing turned out ex­actly as he had planned.

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