The Herald (South Africa) - - ARTS FUN & GAMES - By B Jay and Steve Becker

There are not many ac­tiv­i­ties in life where know­ing how to count to 13 is as im­por­tant as it is in bridge. In fact, it’s of­ten said that count­ing to 13 is re­ally the name of the game. To­day’s hand should pro­vide proof for any doubt­ing Thomases.

De­clarer won the heart lead with dummy’s ace and could count 12 top tricks -- three in each suit. The 13th would have to come from ei­ther di­a­monds or clubs, and South knew the odds were very good that one suit or the other would pro­vide him with the ex­tra trick he was look­ing for. But rather than just pro­ceed on the as­sump­tion that one of the two suits would di­vide favourably, South found a way to over­come the pos­si­bil­ity that both suits would break badly.

His first step was to cash the K-Q of hearts, dis­card­ing a di­a­mond from dummy. This re­vealed that West had started with six hearts. De­clarer then led the A-K-Q of clubs, hop­ing the jack would fall, but dis­cov­ered in­stead that West had be­gun with four clubs to the jack. To com­plete the pic­ture of West’s hand be­fore he tack­led the di­a­monds, South next cashed the ace of spades and led a spade to the queen, not­ing that West fol­lowed to both spades. With 12 of West’s cards thus fully ac­counted for, it was now a sim­ple mat­ter to cash the di­a­mond ace, lead dummy’s ten and, af­ter East played low, let the 10 ride. A di­a­mond to the king, fol­lowed by a spade to dummy’s king, al­lowed South to score the queen of di­a­monds for his 13th trick.

Ob­serve that if South had played any two of his three top di­a­monds ear­lier in the hand, as many play­ers might have done, he would not have made the grand slam. By util­is­ing the magic num­ber 13 from the out­set, South wound up plus 2 220 points in­stead of mi­nus 100.

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