The Punxsutawney Spirit

Alder's NEA Bridge: The risk was needless

- By Phillip Alder

Some writers rely heavily on their editors. Others feel that the editor, to justify his position, will unnecessar­ily alter the writer's carefully constructe­d prose. As H.G. Wells said, "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." (I now leave a space for my editor to add his dime's worth!) (Someone is angling for another grammar lecture. — ed.)

When South looked up on today's deal, he found that he had gone down. If only he had counted the nouns (his tricks) with an adverb (carefully), he would have avoided suffering another noun (defeat).

South's rebid of two no-trump showed 18-19 points. This was an accurate assessment of his hand. That excellent club suit was worth another 2 or 3 points. (The 4Cs method gives 18.9.)

The defenders led spades, declarer ducking his ace until the third round.

To play this club holding for no losers, South knew that it was better to take an immediate finesse than to cash the ace first and then finesse. (West can hold five possible singletons: four low cards and only one queen.) Therefore, South played a heart to the ace and finessed the club jack. However, West won with the queen and cashed his two spade winners: down one.

South had four top tricks outside clubs. So he needed only five club tricks, not six. Also, as it was in his best interest to keep West off the lead, South should have cashed the club ace-king, not taken a finesse at all. Here the queen drops, and declarer makes an overtrick. If the queen doesn't appear, South leads a third club, hoping East has the queen (or that the spades are 4-4).

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