Con­tract Bridge

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

An anti-per­cent­age play

As­sume that in a given case you have three low clubs in dummy and A-J9-8 in your hand, and that your aim is to lose only one trick in the suit. When you lead a club from dummy and the next player fol­lows low, is it bet­ter in the long run to play the eight or the jack?

The an­swer is very clear. The eight is a far bet­ter play than the jack be­cause your right-hand op­po­nent will be dealt Q-10-x or K-10-x twice as of­ten as K-Q-x.

How­ever, in a par­tic­u­lar case — such as the present one — it may be bet­ter to play the jack than the eight. All rules have ex­cep­tions, and to­day's hand pro­vides an il­lus­tra­tion.

West leads a spade against five di­a­monds, and South can tell from the bid­ding that East is highly likely to have the ace of hearts. Con­se­quently, af­ter tak­ing the spade with the ace, draw­ing a round of trumps and lead­ing a club from dummy, on which East fol­lows low, South should play the jack.

As it hap­pens, the jack wins the trick, and when de­clarer then plays the ace and an­other club, he winds up mak­ing the con­tract be­cause he can later dis­card one of dummy's hearts on his fourth club. All he loses is a club and a heart.

The rea­son de­clarer abandons the usual per­cent­age play is that he can­not af­ford to lose a club trick to West, which would then sub­ject him to a killing heart re­turn through the king.

Given the cir­cum­stances, South's best chance to avoid two heart losers is to as­sume that East has the K-Q of clubs, and he shapes his play to cater to that as­sump­tion.

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