A void con­tin­ues to stop Black­wood

Cecil Whig - - INSIDEBASEBALL - By Phillip Alder

Voltaire said, “Chance is a word void of sense; noth­ing can ex­ist with­out a cause.” That is a tad melo­dra­matic. One can of­ten cal­cu­late the chance that a con­tract will make, but it does some­times need an “ap­prox­i­mately” at­tached. For ex­am­ple, a six-spade con­tract that seems to rely to­tally on the trump fi­nesse is not ex­actly 50 per­cent, be­cause an op­po­nent might be able to get a trick-one ruff. But the chance of that will be very low. In today’s deal, what is the chance that six spades will make? How should de­clarer plan the play af­ter West leads the club queen? In the auc­tion, af­ter North raises spades, South shouldn’t use Black­wood, be­cause when North shows one ace, South will not know if it is the valu­able di­a­mond ace or the less use­ful heart ace. In­stead, South should con­tinue with four clubs, a con­trol-bid show­ing a firstround con­trol (ace or void) in that suit. Here, North con­trol-bids four hearts, deny­ing the di­a­mond ace and show­ing the heart ace. South ends the auc­tion with a plunge into six spades. South has three pos­si­ble losers: two di­a­monds and one club. The club six will dis­ap­pear on dummy’s heart ace, but to hold the di­a­mond losers to one, de­clarer must find East with the di­a­mond ace -- a 5050 chance.

Af­ter win­ning with his club ace, South plays a trump to dummy, pitches his low club on the heart ace, then leads a di­a­mond to his king. When it wins, de­clarer re­turns to dummy with a trump, and plays an­other di­a­mond through East to get home.

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