Con­tract Bridge

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

The avoid­ance prin­ci­ple

In many hands, de­clarer can­not af­ford to have a par­tic­u­lar de­fender gain the lead and there­fore does ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble not to lose a trick to him.

Take this case where South was in three notrump, got a heart lead and cor­rectly played the queen from dummy. The pur­pose of the queen play was twofold: If West had the ace, the queen would win, and the K-8 would con­sti­tute a stopper if West later gained the lead; if East had the ace, he would win the trick, but then South could duck the heart re­turn, hold­ing up the king un­til the third round. This would serve to neu­tral­ize West’s re­main­ing hearts if he started with five of them.

When the queen held, South cashed the A-K-Q of spades, hop­ing the op­pos­ing spades were di­vided 3-3 or that West had four of them. In ei­ther case, South would then be sure of the con­tract. But East showed up with four spades, and de­clarer went down one after East won the fourth spade and re­turned the heart jack through South’s king.

Ac­tu­ally, the prob­lem of avoid­ing the dan­ger­ous op­po­nent, East, could have been solved in an en­tirely dif­fer­ent way. After win­ning the first heart with the queen, all South had to do was to lead a low spade from dummy and fi­nesse the eight.

This would have lost to the ten, but West would then have been stymied. Noth­ing he could do would stop de­clarer from scor­ing nine tricks con­sist­ing of four spades, a heart, a di­a­mond and three clubs.

Fi­ness­ing the spade eight after East played low was sure to bring the con­tract home if the spades were di­vided 3-3 or 4-2, and there­fore of­fered a much greater chance of suc­ceed­ing than sim­ply cash­ing the A-K-Q in hopes of a 3-3 split.

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