The Union Democrat

Bridge’s survival needs young blood

- By PHILLIP ALDER

Bridge in schools is commonplac­e in many countries outside North America. How do we persuade school boards that playing bridge doesn't lead inexorably to gambling, that it is an excellent mental exercise, promotes teamwork and cultivates social skills?

In today's deal, played some years ago during a Polish Schools Team Championsh­ip, East was 13-year-old Malgorzata Zalewska. South was in three no-trump. West led a fourth-highest spade seven. How did East defend?

In the auction, North's aggressive three-heart cue-bid asked his partner to bid three no-trump with a heart stopper or two.

At first glance, it looked as though South would probably take one heart, six diamonds and two clubs. However, Zalewska won trick one with the spade king and then found a fiendish shift to a diamond. This destroyed declarer's communicat­ions. South won with his diamond ace, cashed the club king, played a diamond to dummy's 10 and took the club ace, discarding a heart.

Now came a heart, but Zalewska put up her ace and cashed the club queen. What could South discard? If the heart king, the defenders would run that suit. If a diamond, East would cash her spade queen, then exit with a heart or a diamond, leaving declarer with only eight tricks. South's one chance was that East had the doubleton spade ace-king. But when South pitched a spade, the defenders ran that suit for down three.

When asked how she had found this defense, Zalewska said, “We have been taught to lead up to dummy's weakness.” A little learning was dangerous only to declarer.

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