Try to give him just enough rope

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Margery Alling­ham, an English au­thor of de­tec­tive fic­tion whose best-known char­ac­ter was Al­bert Cam­pion, said, “Chemists em­ployed by the police can do re­mark­able things with blood. They can weave it into a rope to hang a man.” Ex­pert bridge play­ers can do re­mark­able things with cards. They can weave them into a rope to hang an op­po­nent -- as in this deal.

How should West try to de­feat four hearts by South? West leads the spade queen. De­clarer wins with dummy’s king and runs the heart 10. What hap­pens af­ter that?

North pro­duces a neg­a­tive dou­ble, which shows four hearts (the un­bid ma­jor) and some eight-plus points (or six or seven if he re­ally likes his hand). He might hold five or even six hearts and only 6-9 points, too few to re­spond two hearts; but that is rare.

South has four po­ten­tial losers: one spade (on the third round), two hearts and one club. But there are dis­cards avail­able on di­a­monds. Yes­ter­day, when de­clarer ran the heart 10, West won with his queen and per­se­vered with spades. South won in the dummy and took three rounds of di­a­monds to shed dummy’s last spade. Then the con­tract made.

West missed a great op­por­tu­nity to of­fer de­clarer a noose. He should have won the first heart trick with his ace! Then, when he led a sec­ond spade, South might have thought it couldn’t hurt to draw trumps with an­other fi­nesse through East’s ap­par­ent queen. But West would have pro­duced that queen out of his back pocket and cashed the spade 10 and club ace to de­feat the con­tract.

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