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.