The Reporter (Lansdale, PA)


- By Phillip Alder

The diamond nine is known as the Curse of Scotland. A British “Bridge Magazine” editor gave six possible explanatio­ns — all unlikely to be the right one! They ranged from the order for the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692 being written on the back of the card to the nine lozenges that formed the arms of the Earl of Stair, who was especially unpopular because of his union with England and his connection with the aforementi­oned massacre.

Whatever the actual reason, a Scotsman would have his eye firmly planted on the critical card in today’s seven-heart contract.

After North made a limit raise, South bid what he thought he could make.

One declarer ruffed the clubking lead, drew three rounds of trumps and cashed the diamond king. East’s discard was a blow as powerful as any struck at Glencoe on that fateful day. With only one trump remaining in the dummy, South had an unavoidabl­e diamond loser. Eventually he took the spade finesse, but it lost, and he was down one.

The successful declarer saw that he needed only four diamond tricks, not five. So, after drawing trumps, he led a low diamond toward the dummy, planning to finesse the

Curse. However, when West split his honors, declarer calmly played dummy’s three.

Winning the spade switch in hand, South finessed the Curse, cashed the diamond king and spade ace, ruffed a club in hand and cashed the diamond ace-queen, discarding the club seven and spade jack from the dummy. A spade ruff in the dummy gave declarer 12 tricks: two spades, five hearts, four diamonds and the spade ruff.

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