What does he know that you also know?

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Oc­ca­sion­ally at the bridge ta­ble, a player will make a mis­take, think­ing that he is giv­ing an op­po­nent a guess when it re­ally isn’t a guess at all. In this ex­am­ple, North-South were us­ing a strong-club sys­tem with four-card ma­jors. North’s re­sponse was a splin­ter bid, show­ing gamego­ing val­ues in hearts and a sin­gle­ton (or void) in clubs.

This deal oc­curred dur­ing the 1979 Euro­pean Team Cham­pi­onships in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land. Against four hearts, West led the club seven (sec­ond-high­est from a weak suit). The de­clarer, Dano de Falco from Italy, won East’s club queen with his ace and im­me­di­ately re­turned the club jack. When West played low in tempo, South placed the club king with East. De­clarer ruffed in the dummy, drew trumps end­ing in his hand, and led a di­a­mond to the jack and king. East might have shifted to a low spade, but he knew that that was not with­out risk. In­stead, he re­turned his di­a­mond 10. West took the trick and led an­other di­a­mond to dummy’s queen. Now South had to avoid two spade losers, but he knew that West had the ace. How?

If East had held that card, he would have opened the bid­ding. So, de Falco, with no le­git­i­mate way to make his con­tract, led dummy’s spade jack. East, think­ing de­clarer had a guess with the spade king-10 in his hand, played low smoothly. But de­clarer ran the jack, and when the ace ap­peared, claimed his con­tract. East should have re­al­ized that he was known not to have the spade ace and cov­ered the jack. De Falco was awarded the Bols Bril­liancy Prize for this ef­fort.

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