Con­tract Bridge

The Weekly Vista - - Fun & Games - by Steve Becker (c) 2017 King Fea­tures Synd., Inc.

A self-in­flicted in­jury

In this deal from a club du­pli­cate, only one North-South pair made four spades even though the con­tract was un­stop­pable with cor­rect play.

At most ta­bles, the bid­ding went as shown, and West led the jack of clubs. De­clarer put up dummy’s king in or­der to try a spade fi­nesse, los­ing the eight to West’s queen. A sec­ond club was taken by the ace, and the king of spades then lost to East’s ace. East re­turned a third club, ruffed by South with the nine.

At this point, vir­tu­ally all the de­clar­ers drew West’s last trump with the jack and at­tempted to run the di­a­monds. But when East showed out on the sec­ond diamond, the con­tract went down the drain. Al­though South could ruff a fourth round of di­a­monds in dummy, he would have no en­try to the closed hand to col­lect his last two di­a­monds. So, after cash­ing the A-K-Q of di­a­monds, these de­clar­ers next led a heart to­ward dummy and fin­ished down one, los­ing two hearts and two spades.

At one ta­ble, though, South saw a way to give him­self an ex­tra chance if the di­a­monds broke 4-1. After ruff­ing the club re­turn at trick five, he rea­soned that if the di­a­monds were di­vided 3-2, no harm could come from cash­ing the A-K be­fore draw­ing the last trump. If both op­po­nents fol­lowed suit to the A-K, he could then cash the jack of spades be­fore running the di­a­monds. If the sec­ond diamond hap­pened to get ruffed, the con­tract was doomed any­way.

The ad­van­tage of this ap­proach can be seen in the ac­tual deal. When de­clarer cashed the two top di­a­monds, East showed out, but was un­able to ruff. South then led a low diamond and ruffed it in dummy to establish the suit. Dummy’s re­main­ing trump was led to the jack, and the rest of the di­a­monds were run. West got his heart trick at the end, and South got a well-de­served top score.

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