THE ACES ON BRIDGE
“One has not only an ability to perceive the world, but an ability to alter one’s perception of it; more simply, one can change things by the manner in which one looks at them.” -- Tom Robbins .....................
John Armstrong’s death some six years ago robbed England of one of its finest players. He was in action on today’s hand, demonstrating some neat inferential card reading.
The bidding in both rooms to three no-trump saw the lead of the club two to the three, jack and king. The first declarer set up his clubs by conceding a trick to West’s 10. That player’s low heart switch went to the ace, and when South played low on the heart return, the defenders could set up hearts and cash the 13th heart when East got in with the spade ace.
In the second room, Armstrong drew the right inference from the lead as to West’s distribution. Given that most defenders would prefer to lead a major when Stayman has not been employed, the lead from a broken four-card suit suggested that West might have no second four-card suit. Instead of continuing with clubs and setting up a winner there for the opponents, Armstrong played a diamond at trick two.
West won the second diamond and shifted to the heart two. East took the ace and returned the three, but since West’s low heart two suggested that West might hold a heart honor, declarer rose with the king, blocking the hearts.
Next he dislodged the spade ace, and although East could play a heart to West’s queen, nothing could now stop declarer from regaining the lead. At that point, he could take three clubs, three diamonds, two spades and one heart for his contract.