Con­tract Bridge

The Weekly Vista - - Fun & Games - by Steve Becker

Fa­mous hand

Those who con­sis­tently per­form well at the high­est lev­els of the game cer­tainly are de­serv­ing of the rep­u­ta­tions they have earned. But the chances are that if you watched a top ex­pert play, you would not be greatly im­pressed.

The fact is that an ex­pert sel­dom does any­thing sen­sa­tional. His most valu­able trait is that he rarely makes a mis­take. The abil­ity to play one ses­sion af­ter an­other with­out er­ring is his stock in trade, but it does not in­duce kib­itzers to stand up and cheer.

Take this deal from a na­tional cham­pi­onship. South was in four spades, and West led a heart. East took his A-K and re­turned a heart, won by de­clarer with the jack. South played the ace of clubs, ruffed a club and cashed the ace of di­a­monds. Next came the jack of spades, which lost to West’s king. When West re­turned a club, de­clarer ruffed and eas­ily took the rest of the tricks.

What did South do that was ex­tra­or­di­nary? On the face of it, noth­ing. He had to lose two hearts and a spade — and he lost them. Yet, upon closer study, South did some­thing re­ally good, and if he hadn’t done it, he would have gone down. He made the key play of cash­ing the ace of di­a­monds be­fore tak­ing the trump fi­nesse.

And what did this ac­com­plish? To see the dif­fer­ence, let’s say that af­ter South ruffed a club at trick five, he had next led the jack of spades, los­ing to the king.

West would then have re­turned a di­a­mond, and the con­tract would have been lost. South would have been un­able to lead from dummy with­out los­ing a sec­ond trump trick to West’s ten, and he would have gone down one. Gi­ant oaks from tiny acorns grow.

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