ACES ON BRIDGE
Switzerland would make a mighty big place if it were ironed flat.
— Mark Twain Jean Besse was Switzerland’s greatest bridge player, who wrote intelligently about the theory of the game. In one column, he referred to the irrelevant small cards as neutrinos and explained how you had to be careful not to void yourself prematurely in a suit and give away unnecessary information to declarer to allow him to count out your hand.
This deal from the 1993 Epson Simultaneous Pairs (held at the top of the Post Office Tower in London) demonstrates the principle to good effect.
When North-South reached six notrump, West elected to make a passive heart lead. Declarer cashed the club ace and king, then ran the hearts as East discarded diamonds. West threw three diamonds, and now declarer played a spade to the queen and king.
West carefully returned a low club, and declarer misguessed by inserting the queen, East throwing a spade, and South a diamond.
So far, so bad, but at this point, the diamond ace forced a spade out of West. Declarer now knew that both defenders only had one spade left, since East was guarding diamonds and West clubs. He could thus play a spade to his ace in complete confidence, and drop West’s jack.
Did you note West’s error? Since she was going to have to pitch a spade sooner or later, it would have been right to discard it on the sixth heart. Then declarer would not get the complete count on diamonds and eventually would have to guess spades. ANSWER: This is a hand where slam might be laydown or 10 tricks might be the limit. You have too much to go quietly and settle for game, but start with a game-try of three diamonds (yes, this is forcing) to see whether partner can cooperate. If not, settle for game.