Vancouver Sun


- bobby wolff

“If you cut up a large diamond into little bits, it will entirely lose the value it had as a whole; and an army, divided up into small bodies of soldiers, loses all its strength. So a great intellect sinks to the level of an ordinary one as soon as it is interrupte­d and disturbed, its attention distracted and drawn off from the matter in hand.”

— Arthur Schopenhau­er

Today’s auction sees South open one spade. When North responds with a game-forcing two diamonds, South naturally rebids his spades and eventually signs off in four spades after an unrevealin­g auction.

West’s lead of the heart queen is won in dummy. The key to success is dummy’s “useless” diamond ace. While South plans to discard a club on it if he has only one trump loser, the diamond ace will serve better as a phantom menace today.

Declarer finds the bad news in spades at trick two and puts in the queen. West takes the spade king and persists with hearts. Declarer wins dummy’s king and, leaving the diamond ace stranded, presses on with trumps. West scores his spade jack and plays a third heart, ruffed by South.

Now declarer draws trumps, followed by a fifth spade. East, who has so far shed two hearts, a club and a diamond, has a tricky discard. If he lets go of another club, afraid that declarer began with king-doubleton in both minors, he will surrender the game, for South can establish two long club tricks in one fell swoop.

East can hardly expect declarer to have no diamonds, so it might seem safe to discard two clubs, expecting West to hold three of them. For the defense to prevail, West would have to throw an encouragin­g diamond on the fifth spade (not obvious), whereupon East may deduce to pitch a second diamond. In any case, though, declarer gives the defense a losing option with this line of play.

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