He’s got the hots for the smarts

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Richard Thomp­son, one of the great­est-ever gui­tarists, wrote a song called “The Hots for the Smarts” that, sadly, has never been re­leased on an al­bum. But Augie Boehm’s lat­est book, “Bridge Smarts” (HNB Pub­lish­ing), made me think of it. Boehm, who often takes part in du­pli­cates with in­ex­pe­ri­enced clients, of­fers in­sights into key as­pects of play­ing bet­ter -- hand eval­u­a­tion and de­fense be­ing at the top of the list.

The open­ing lead on this deal would be easy for an ex­pert, but missed by many less-ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers. Look at the West hand and the auc­tion. What should he lead against four hearts?

West’s neg­a­tive dou­ble showed ex­actly four spades and six-plus points. His three-diamond re­bid was game-in­vi­ta­tional. But the strange ac­tion was South’s jump to four hearts. One mo­ment, he passed over two hearts; the next, he jumped to game af­ter no fur­ther en­cour­age­ment from part­ner. What is the ex­pla­na­tion? As­sum­ing South is a com­pe­tent player, he must have length and weak­ness in di­a­monds. Af­ter West bid three di­a­monds, South knew that his part­ner had a sin­gle­ton or a void and he could ruff his diamond losers on the board.

To cut down those ruffs, West must lead his trump. (Note that dummy rates to have only three hearts. With four and a diamond short­age, he would have bid three hearts over three di­a­monds.) Then East must play his part, lead­ing an­other round of hearts when in with a high diamond. South will lose one spade, one heart and two di­a­monds.

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