The Punxsutawney Spirit

Alder's NEA Bridge: Deflationa­ry point-count

- By Phillip Alder

Inflation affects us all, especially today. As Henny Youngman pointed out many years ago, "Americans are getting stronger. Twenty years ago, it took two people to carry 10 dollars' worth of groceries. Today, a fiveyear-old can do it."

In contrast, deflation has hit high-card points. To open the bidding, few people wait for 13 points these days. For most, 12 are ample, and 11 satisfy some, especially Europeans.

On today's deal, I agree with North's oneclub bid. He has two aces, which are undervalue­d at 4 points each, a strong suit to show and good intermedia­tes. Edgar Kaplan's 4Cs method rates the hand at 12.6 points. Also, without the opening bid, North-South might not have bid the good six-spade slam.

After West led the heart king, South saw that he was facing a potential loser in each red suit. Rather than rely on a lot of luck in diamonds, declarer preferred to put dummy's club spots to good use.

After winning with the heart ace, declarer drew two rounds of trumps. Next, he led the club nine to dummy's ace and continued with the club jack. When East played low, South discarded his heart loser. West won with the queen and tried to cash the heart queen, but declarer ruffed. Now South led a diamond to dummy's ace and continued with the club 10. East played low again, but declarer threw the diamond eight. When West followed with a low club, South ruffed out the club king, crossed to dummy with a trump and discarded the diamond 10 on the club eight.

Watch out for ruffing finesses.

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