Stock mar­ket ploy at the bridge ta­ble

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Sev­eral top bridge ex­perts have been suc­cess­ful traders in the stock and op­tions mar­kets. They un­der­stand that the mar­ket is volatile, but if a small in­vest­ment even­tu­ally gives a large re­turn, a few pal­try losses along the way are no big deal. How is that rel­e­vant in this deal? South is in four spades. West leads the club jack. East takes dummy’s queen with his ace and shifts to the heart queen. How should the play pro­ceed from there? Although South had only 19 high­card points, his hand was well worth a two-club open­ing. If his part­ner had a 3-3-3-4 Yar­bor­ough, South was a fa­vorite to make four spades, and his hand had some de­fen­sive tricks out­side of its long suit. North’s two-no-trump re­bid promised some points, typ­i­cally 4-7, with no long suit to show. With a very bad hand, he would have re­bid three clubs as a dou­ble neg­a­tive.

South’s im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion was to win with the heart ace and cash his two top trumps in the hope that the queen would drop. But luck­ily he paused to con­sider his other op­tions. Here, if he had played trumps from the top, he would have lost one trick in each suit be­cause he could not have reached the dummy to cash its club win­ner.

In­stead, South made a small in­vest­ment in safety. Af­ter tak­ing the se­cond trick with his heart ace, he led a low spade to­ward the dummy. West won with his queen, cashed the heart king, and switched to a di­a­mond, but de­clarer took that trick, played a low spade to dummy’s 10, and dis­carded his di­a­mond loser on the club king.

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