Pa­tience is of­ten a bridge virtue

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Ben­jamin Dis­raeli, twice the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter in the 19th cen­tury, said, “Pa­tience is a nec­es­sary in­gre­di­ent of ge­nius.”

One clear dif­fer­ence be­tween bridge ge­niuses -- ex­perts -- and less-ca­pa­ble play­ers is the speed with which they take tricks when on de­fense. In this deal, how should the de­clarer-play and de­fense pro­ceed af­ter West leads the heart king against three no-trump? It was rea­son­able for North to use Stay­man, de­spite his poor spades. If South also had four spades and weak di­a­monds, four spades could have been the best con­tract.

South starts with seven top tricks: one spade, one heart, one di­a­mond and four clubs. He has fi­nesses avail­able in both rounded suits, and it is log­i­cal to start with the di­a­monds, be­cause if that fi­nesse wins, de­clarer is home. South should duck dummy’s heart ace twice and take the third round. In this way, he learns the good news that hearts are 4-3, not 5-2. Then he takes the di­a­mond fi­nesse. What hap­pens next? Many Wests would win the trick to cash the last heart. But then South will get into the dummy with the club queen and, per­force, take the spade fi­nesse, and with this lay­out he would col­lect two spades, one heart, two di­a­monds and four clubs. A ge­nius West will duck the first di­a­mond. Then de­clarer would surely cross to the club queen and re­peat the di­a­mond fi­nesse. Now West pro­duces his king, cashes the last heart, and ex­its with a club. Then South can­not get into the dummy to take the spade fi­nesse and will end down one.

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