Baltimore Sun

Bridge Play

- Frank Stewart

Some friends of mine — software engineers — play bridge during lunch. If the game runs past lunch hour, they post a sign on their office door: “Probabilit­y seminar in progress. Do not disturb.”

You need not be a Fermat or Pascal to play bridge, but a basic knowledge of percentage­s is helpful. In today’s deal, South found himself at 3NT; North bid boldly and was lucky that South had an ace and not a collection of spot cards.


West led the queen of spades, forcing out South’s ace, the only entry to his hand.

South had eight winners: three hearts, three clubs, a diamond and a spade. He could succeed if a diamond finesse won or (with an overtrick) if the hearts broke 3-3. Which play should he try?

This is a simple exercise in percentage­s that most players would get right. Declarer’s correct play for the contract is to lead a diamond to dummy’s queen at Trick Two. The finesse will work 50 percent of the time; a 3-3 break will occur only about 36 percent.


You hold: ♠ QJ1096 ♥ 10

♦ K97 ♣ J 8 6 4. The dealer, at your left, opens one club. Your partner doubles, you “advance” one spade and he next bids two hearts. What do you say?

ANSWER: By doubling for takeout before bidding a suit, your partner promises a hand worth at least 17 points. Since your hand was almost worth an invitation­al jump to two spades, you should make a strong move now. Jump to three spades or cue-bid three clubs.

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