The Hamilton Spectator
Sometimes a rule lets you rule
Robert Frost said, “A jury consists of 12 persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.” Who cares about the Law of the Land?
There are many laws — well, rules — that we learn for use at the bridge table. However, it's no good knowing these adages if you don't apply the right one at the appropriate moment. How should the play go in today's deal after West leads a fourth-highest spade seven against four hearts?
Declarer had one spade loser and so could afford two club losers. But if East held the club queen and ace, could South have avoided three losers in the suit?
At trick one, South played a low spade from the dummy. East won with the queen and switched to a diamond. Declarer won with his ace, drew trumps, cashed the diamond king, played a spade to dummy's ace and ruffed dummy's last spade in his hand. Now South played a club to dummy's jack.
East won with the queen but didn't enjoy the experience. A spade or diamond return would have conceded a ruff-and-sluff. Cashing the club ace was equally hopeless.
Well played by South, but East had only himself to blame. If West's opening lead was from shortage, South had the spade king-jack, and East's play was probably irrelevant. However, if the seven was fourth-highest, East could apply the Rule of Eleven. There are four spades above the seven in the North, East and South hands combined — and East was able to see them all.
So East should have played the spade two at trick one. Then if West immediately switched to a club, the contract could be defeated.